We are all weighing the unknown right now, as the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted nearly every level of each of our lives. As race directors, our small event is greatly outweighed by our concern for the health of our community and the quickest possible return to normalcy.
Quad Rock’s scheduled date of May 9 lies right on the outer edge of the current 8-week window recommended by the CDC for cancellation of large events. We are in constant contact with our permitting agencies, and monitoring recommendations from public health administrations.
We are continuing to prepare as if the race will occur on May 9.
If higher authorities do not make the decision for us, we will make the final go/no-go decision on Monday, April 27.
If the race does not proceed on May 9, we are working to postpone rather than cancel, targeting a mid-August date. Current entrants will have the option to:
Stay registered for the Quad Rock 2020 makeup date later this year
Receive 100% transfer credit toward Quad Rock 2021
Receive 75% transfer credit toward any of our other events
Both transfer credit options are available starting today, out of respect for runners who wish to withdraw before our own final decision is made. If you would like to request a transfer, please contact: email@example.com
We are taking the precautionary step of discontinuing invitations from the waitlist. With the high degree of uncertainty, we do not feel comfortable taking additional registrations until a decision is made. If the event proceeds, invitations to cover any open entry slots will go out on April 27. Wait list invitees will only be charged if they accept the invitation.
If Quad Rock does take place in May, it will include:
Drop bag service for every aid station
Individual servings at aid stations (no communal bowls/plates)
Gloves for every volunteer and hand sanitizer on every table
And other steps as appropriate – your recommendations are welcome!
As ultrarunners ourselves, we are doing our best to strike a balance between doing right by you and ensuring we have the capacity to continue Quad Rock next year and beyond. Please contact us any time with questions.
Location: Horsetooth Mountain Park, Fort Collins, CO
Race Cap: 300
What’s New for 2020?
The 2020 Never Summer 100km maintains its status as a qualifying race for the Western States 100. In addition, it serves as a qualifying race for the UTMB series of races, earning finishers 4 ITRA points. The Quad Rock 50 & 25 mile races are worth 3 & 2 points respectively. The Blue Sky Marathon earns finishers 1 point.
With the continued excitement surrounding the Gnar Slam, we’ll again be offering end-of-season awards and a free entry into the 2021 Quad Rock Trail Races for all runners that complete the Quad Rock 50, Never Summer 100km, Black Squirrel Trail Half, and Blue Sky Marathon.
After a successful roll out of our 4-race Summer Trail Series, we plan to continue offering shorter-distance trail fun in August 2020, with distances ranging from 5k to 7 miles.
On the road side, we’re delighted to again be managing the Horsetooth Half Marathon, Northern Colorado’s largest and oldest half marathon. The 2020 race will be held on April 19. Group training runs begin January 12 with a kick-off party at New Belgium Brewing.
Also on the road side, we’re excited to be hosting the second running of the Long View Marathon and Half Marathon on October 4, 2020. The inaugural running was a huge success, seeing close to 700 runners complete the journey from Fort Collins to Loveland.
We are incredibly humbled to have been able to staff a total of 662 volunteer positions across all races in 2019. Volunteers are the lifeblood of any race organization, and we count ourselves as incredibly fortunate to be able to draw from such an enthusiastic and talented local running community. Thank YOU!
Hosting events has an impact on the resources we use. We are keenly aware of that and our responsibility to be good stewards of public lands. In 2019, we helped organize five trail work days, focusing primarily on the trails that we host races on. Our team of over 50 trail volunteers put in three days of work on the Valley Trails in Lory State Park and two days of trail improvement and rebuilding work up in the Never Summer Mountains at State Forest State Park. Across the five work days, we laid tread and worked on drainage across a total of 18 miles of trail. Up in State Forest, we cleared upwards of 100 downed trees, cleared a similar number of sapling stumps and re-routed a severely mauled Pennock Trail. And we loved every minute of it! To learn about 2020 trail work opportunities with Gnar Runners, please visit our Volunteer Trail Work Page.
When we’re not organizing races, we love to get out and help fellow race directors and clubs with their events. We always enjoy the annual Gnar outing to the Golden Gate Dirty 30 where we host the Forgotten Valley Aid Station. In addition, we’ve enjoyed helping out with local Fort Collins community races such as the Mountain Avenue Mile, the Fort Collins Running Club’s Tortoise & Hare 7-race series, and even the 2019 North American XC Unicycle Championships held on our home trails this year!
We’re incredibly thankful to the wonderful Gnar Team and other community run leaders who come out week after week throughout the year to organize local trail runs. These folks are the lifeblood of our running community, and we’ve been especially stoked this year to see the growth of women-specific weekly trail runs and workouts. If you’re interested in learning more about local group runs, be sure to join the Fort Collins Trail Runners Facebook group for updates.
In addition to the weekly group runs, we really enjoy hosting some bigger, race-specific runs and weekends. As always, the Quad Rock training runs were incredibly well attended through the winter and spring months and we had record crowds up at State Forest State Park for the Never Summer training and trail work weekend. We’ll be doing it all over again in 2020, beginning with the build-up to Quad Rock. Stay tuned for details.
Never Summer 100km (men): Hannes Gehring (11:47:06)
Black Squirrel Half (women): Rachel Rudel (1:42:35)
Blue Sky Marathon (women): Addie Bracy (3:35:25)
Blue Sky Marathon (men): Drew Holmen (3:10:22)
A double rainbow for our final Quad Rock finishers
In the Works for 2020
Transition to 100% compostable and/or reusable dishware
New website with rich visual content
New volunteer rewards program
And some new race ideas/distances are percolating….
Part of the reason we’re able to offer such great race experiences is because we’ve worked tirelessly to partner with quality sponsors that share our vision for well-managed events. In 2020 we’re incredibly excited to be partnering again with Salomon Running, one of the greatest brand innovators in the sport.
We’ll be offering special Salomon shoe & gear deals with our retail partner, Altitude Running, at all pre-race packet pickups. We’ll also be offering the opportunity to demo Salomon kicks at training runs, community events and race-day expos.
We’re also incredibly thankful to Colorado in Motion for providing fantastic training and injury prevention presentations and advice at numerous training events across the season. Your next opportunity to check-in with the team will be at the Jan 12 Horsetooth Half training run kick-off at New Belgium.
And, of course, innumerable thanks to Justin Liddle DMD, a Gnar supporter from day one, and simply the best prosthodontist in Northern Colorado. What would our races be without dental hygiene products among your packet pickup goodies?
Thanks for a great 2019 season, and we’ll see you in 2020.
Much like last year, we had beautiful conditions for the 12th running of the Blue Sky Trail Marathon. The brisk pre-dawn temperatures gave way to a cool but comfortable morning, and a light wind out of the south picked up as runners were making their way to the Hunter turn, offering a friendly tailwind for the last 8 miles of the race. And, once again, we had a fast field ready to take full advantage of the ideal running conditions, with new course records being set in both the men’s and women’s races, and a total of 249 runners hitting the finish line from a total of 254 starters.
In the women’s race, course record holder and defending champion Addie Bracy came in as the pre-race favorite. And she lived up to the billing with aplomb, leading the women’s race from start to finish, progressively chipping into her course record splits from last year before crossing the finish line in a massive 10 minute course record (3:35:27).
Former race winner Meghan Spieker completed her fifth Blue Sky Marathon in style, registering another podium finish for second (4:15:07), while Marisa Watson ran strong through the back half of the race to claim third (4:24:19).
The men’s race was a closer affair, with Drew Holman and Tyler Fox running together off the front for the first 20 miles of the race. It was in the last six miles that the race was decided, as it often is in the marathon, with Holman pulling away in the Indian Summer hills and powering to the finish over the last 5 miles on the Blue Sky Trail. His closing 5 miles were a minute quicker than Peavy’s course record split from last year and good enough to reset the bar at 3:10:22.
Tyler Fox would hang on for second in 3:15:22, while Fort Collins-based Grayson Lowe rounded out the podium in 3:24:17.
In the men’s master’s category, it was former race winner and now five-time finisher Ryan Burch bringing home the win for Loveland, CO in an impressive 3:30:42. Rebecca Flowers edged out Tara Carter over the last mile for the women’s master’s victory (4:39:54), while the grandmasters wins went to Amber Allen (4:47:12) and Rick Granquist (3:56:27).
All award winners took home beautiful pottery awards from local artisan Amy Hayman.
This year we saw 11 runners complete the Gnar Slam, the exact same number as last year, but this time with a record five female finishers. The Gnar Slam is a recognition of those runner that complete all four Gnar Runners trail races in a calendar year:
The points in the final standings for the Gnar Slam are derived as a percentage of the overall winner’s time in each race (male and female), allowing us to offer equal weighting to each race despite the difference in distance.
This year, we combined the men’s and the women’s standings and it was an incredibly close run thing at the top. Tara Carter came into Blue Sky with a slender four point lead over Travis Massey. After it was all said and done and the points had been computed, Tara jut edged out Travis on top with an overall points win of half a point (330.27 vs 329.81). Tara’s cumulative time across the four races (33:23:06) was good enough to best Colleen Weitzel’s record from last year.
A hearty congratulations to all of our 2019 Gnar Slam finishers! It’s been a fun journey to watch you all progress through the season, and we can’t wait to do it all again next year.
And of course, our races would simply not be the same without the magnificent support of our volunteers. From Towers to the Hunter turnaround, the Blue Sky volunteers were out there on course keeping runners motivated, fed, and hydrated. As always, race participants were glowing in their praise of our volunteers, whether parking cars in the morning, marshaling runners at the turns, or filling bottles at the aid stations. Thank you to each and every one of you.
The 12th running of the Blue Sky Trail Marathon is this Saturday. We hope that your training has been on point and that you’re ready for a strong run.
All information relevant to the event is available from the race website. In addition, we’d like to bring your attention to a few key details.
The weather forecast through the rest of the week and into Saturday looks fantastic with daytime highs in the low 60s. However be aware that the Blue Sky course is very exposed over the last 18 miles and even in the low 60s the trail can get toasty under full sun, so please plan accordingly if we get warmer than predicted temperatures.
An optional packet pickup will be available on Friday from 4pm to 7pm at Altitude Running. Altitude Running is located at 150 E Harmony Rd on the northeast corner of College and Harmony.
Packet and bib pickup will also be available on race morning at the Blue Sky trailhead from 5:30am to 6:45am.
Limited parking is available at the Blue Sky trailhead by the race start for carpools of two or more *runners* (55 spaces, first come, first serve) and additional parking will be at the Inlet Bay Marina off Shoreline Drive, 3/4 of a mile from the start. If you are driving solo and parking in the Marina, please give yourself adequate time to get from your car to the start. Race day parking passes will be handed out when you arrive at the Marina.
Runner Drop Off will be available at the pullout on Shoreline Drive by the fire station around the corner from the Blue Sky Trailhead.
**Parking is not allowed anywhere on 38E, along Shoreline Drive, or on any connecting residential street.**
We will have a start/finish gear drop area if you want to avoid heading back to your car before the race starts – or think you might need or want to drop or pickup something when coming back through at mile 9.2 of the race after the Horsetooth loop. Bags should be labeled (we’ll have duct tape and sharpies at the start). There are no other drop bag locations on course.
Aid stations will be checking bib numbers. Please make sure your bib is visible from the front. It would also be helpful if you could call out your number as you leave and/or enter the aid station. Bib numbers are being checked for both aid station split data and, more importantly, runner safety.
This is a cup-less race. We ask that all runners carry a water bottle or hydration pack for refills at the aid stations. Be sure you have enough carrying capacity so you can hydrate adequately between aid stations.
The four aid stations (six total, as the two Indian Summer aid stations are visited twice) will have water, VFuel sports drink, in addition to assorted snacks and fruit. The first Towers aid station will have water and Vfuel drink only.
We will have VFuel bulk gel at the start of the race and at the Blue Sky aid station at mile 9.2. Bring your own flask to fill if you would like to use gel from the aid stations during the race – packets will not be available.
The South Hunter turnaround is a checkpoint only – no water or aid. A volunteer will be checking bib numbers as runners come through to make sure the loop is completed, to capture split data and also for runner safety.
Please pocket any trash and dispose of it at aid stations or at the start/finish.
Trails are open to the public. Watch for bikers and yield to horses.
The BBQ is free to all participants. If you did not purchase extra tickets with your registration, additional meals can be purchased at the BBQ for family and friends for a $10 donation to our race beneficiaries Athlete’s in Tandem.
In addition to finisher awards, we have overall and age group awards, with Altitude Running gift cards for award winners, Salomon running packs for overall winners and a smorgasbord of sponsor gear to give away in the post-awards raffle. We will also be recognizing the 2019 Gnar Slam finishers.
PT work will be available after the race courtesy of race sponsors Colorado in Motion, with massage offered by Diane Bergstedt and foot care advice from UltraPodiatrist Dr. Mike. We will also have Salomon Running on hand showcasing their latest trail lineup, with an opportunity to enter a raffle for a free pair of shoes.
Thank you as always to our fabulous race sponsors in helping us make this event possible:
It was another beautiful morning for the seventh running of the Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon. A capacity field of 300+ runners again took on the perimeter trails of Lory State Park on a 13.3 mile tour of some of Northern Colorado’s finest running trails. And we saw some exciting race action in both the men’s and women’s races with late lead changes in both and a new course record in one.
Addie Bracy is a familiar name in the pantheon of Gnar champions. She holds course records for the Blue Sky Marathon and the Never Summer 100km, with a fourth-fastest time at the Quad Rock 50. This was Addie’s first time running Black Squirrel, so expectations were high that pressure might be put on Melissa Dock’s long standing (2014) course record of 1:45:04.
Coming into the Arthurs West aid station at mile 8.3, all signs looked to be pointing in just that direction, with Addie in the lead and on course record pace. However, her lead was not much more than a minute over a comfortable-looking Rachel Rudel, and by the return visit to the Arthurs Trailhead, some 2.5 miles later, the former CSU-standout had closed the gap to less than 30 seconds. With another 2.5 miles to the finish, the race was on, and it was Rudel who had ended up having the extra gas in the tank, breaking the tape 24 seconds ahead of Bracy in a new course record time of 1:42:35. In what would turn out to be a fast year in the ladies’ race, former champion Abby Depperschmidt rounded out the podium in a sixth fastest time ever (1:49:47), with fourth place finisher Chelsey Heiden would posting the race’s ninth best time ever (1:52:33).
Rachel Rudel – Race Winner
Addie Bracy – Second Place
We didn’t see any new course records in the men’s race, but we did see some fun racing action go down. Former Black Squirrel podium finisher Peter Goble took the race by the scruff of the neck early and held a decent lead coming into the 8.3 mile Arthurs Aid station. But by the second visit to the Arthurs Trailhead at mile 10.3 it was all change. The lead had switched hands with Nathan Austin leading the field followed by David Leonard in second and Silas Thompson in third. Goble had dropped to fourth, now closely tracked by Adrian Macdonald in fifth. The top two positions would remain the same at the finish, with Austin taking the win in 1:38:30, holding off Leonard by just 12 seconds. The fastest closer of the bunch was Macdonald who jumped two spots in the last 2.5 miles to claim third (1:39:29) overall.
Prizes for overall and age group winners included Salomon running packs, bottles and belts in addition to Altitude gift certificates. Unique squirrel-themed awards were lovingly hand-crafted by Amy Hayman.
Of course, our races don’t happen without the help of an army of volunteers. The Liberty Middle & High School XC teams once again showed up in numbers and with great enthusiasm at the Arthurs aid stations, the CSU Food & Nutrution Clubserved up our post-race pancake breakfast, and as always, the Fort Collins Trail Runners community came out in force. Our volunteers shone bright and provided a wonderful race experience for all participants. So, once again, a huge thank you to all our fantastic volunteers. We couldn’t do it without you.
If you enjoyed Black Squirrel and are considering a step up in distance, why not join us on October 19 for the 12th running of the Blue Trail Sky Marathon. This local favorite will be our last event of the year.
Finally, a big thank you to the volunteers on trail work crew who came out on Tuesday following Black Squirrel to leave the course even better than it was! Part of our mission is to promote responsible use of the public trails we are granted the right to race on each year. If you’d like to be added to our volunteer trail work mailing list to learn about these and other upcoming trail work opportunities, please visit our trail work page.
All information relevant to the 7th running of the Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon is available on the race website. Here are a few final details and reminders.
Registration is still open! As of right now, a dozen spots are available. If those are not claimed by the close of online registration tonight, we will offer late registration at Packet Pickup.
The current weather forecast is showing a race-day high in the low 80s, with race-start temps in the low 60s, rising to low 70s by 9:00a and mid 70s by 10:00a, with partly cloudy skies. It will be on the warm side, so please make sure you have adequate carrying capacity for your hydration needs between aid stations. Water cups will not be provided at the aid stations.
The three race aid stations will be stocked with water and V-Fuel sports drink. The Arthur’s aid station – visited twice – will also carry snacks and fruit.
You can pick up your friends’ shirt and bib IF you show a copy of their registration confirmation (on phone or printout)
We will also have additional Gnar Runners and Black Squirrel merchandise for sale (or distribution if you pre-ordered). Salomon Running will also be in store demoing their latest shoe line-up.
Packet pickup will also be available on race morning from 5:30am to 6:45am.
During in-store packet pickup, Altitude Running will be offering 10% off in-store purchases and 15% off Salomon purchases, or spend over $200 and get 20% off.
The race will start promptly at 7:00am. There will be a short pre-race briefing at 6:50am. Late arrivals will need to walk up to a mile to the start from the overflow parking at the Eltuck Picnic area, so we recommend getting to Lory State Park no later than 6:00am if you need to check in on race morning.
Parking at the Soldier Canyon start/finish area (limited to 50-60 cars) is reserved for carpools of two or more race entrants. All other cars will be directed to park on the Lodgepole loop road or at the Timber trailhead lot. If you can, please arrange a carpool with friends – or try the Fort Collins Trail Runner Facebook page. Parking passes will be handed out at the park entrance when you arrive. Please place on your dash so they are visible to park staff.
Bibs must be visible from the front. Please do not remove your pull tag until you finish. Bib numbers can be found here.
Everyone will receive 2 Timing Chips, which need to be attached to each of your shoes. Do not bend, fold or tuck the chips under your laces, and please return your timing chips at the finish line.
Dogs are welcome on leash with family and friends at the start/finish area, but we ask that you not run with your dog during the race.
Please pocket any trash and dispose of it at aid stations or at the start/finish.
Trails are open to the public. Watch for bikers and yield to horses and hikers.
We will have a free 1 mile kids race/run beginning at 10:30 from the start/finish area.
After your finish, stick around for our post race party and Great Harvest pancakes plus sausage and bacon. In addition to fruit, soft drinks and other trimmings, we’ll have cookies from Mary’s Mountain Cookies and brews from New Belgium Brewing. Please be prepared to show ID if planning to enjoy a post-race beer.
Additional post-race food and beer for family and friends can be purchased for a $10 cash donation, if not already purchased with registration.
All finishers will receive a commemorative pint glass. And we’ll be giving out unique overall and age group awards to the top three finishers (male and female) in the following categories: Overall, Under 30, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59 and 60+. We’ll also have sponsor gear and goodies to raffle off during and after the awards.
Salomon Running will be demoing shoes for runners to try out after the race, and we’ll be giving away Salomon packs to our top male and female finishers.
Massage and PT work will be available after the race courtesy of Colorado in Motion and Diane Bergstedt. If you’re having foot issues, be sure to see Ultrapodiatrist Dr. Mike at the finish. UCHealth will also be on hand at the finish to take care of bumps, bruises or any other health concerns.