It was a hot one for the inaugural running of the Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon, hosted on the beautiful trails of Lory State park, but that didn’t deter 206 hardy runners from completing the challenging course.
Runners snake up the start of the Timber climb. Erin Bibeau
Corey Hanson led the charge off the front of the race, with a colorful procession of runners following him up the snaking Timber trail through the opening 1,500 feet of climbing to the high point of the Park on the Westridge doubletrack trail.
From there views opened up to Longs Peak on the west and the City of Fort Collins to the east, before the precipitous plunge down the Howard trail to the Arthurs Rock aid station.
Runners reported Black Squirrel sightings at both the bottom of the technical Howard descent and also at the Arthurs Rock aid station.
From the mile 8 Arthurs aid station, runners were treated to rolling hard pack singletrack on the south and east valley trails all the way into the finish. Although the majority of the climbing was over by the time runners hit the valley trails, this section proved to be the hardest for many due to the intense heat and lack of shade.
At the front of the field, Corey Hanson, who lives a half mile from the Park entrance, would hang on to win the inaugural running of the race and in doing so set the course record in an impressive 1:36:10. He was soon followed by Cory Linfield (1:37:33) and Christopher Knott (1:41:26) in second and third respectively.
In the women’s race, Longmont resident Melissa Dock led pillar to post and crossed the finish line ninth overall in a time of 1:49:50. She was followed by Wyoming’s Esther Hartsky (1:56:50) and local favorite Jenn Malmberg (1:57:48).
The masters divisions were won by Ed Delosh (1:49:25) and Monica Brackney (2:04:10), while the open divisions (39 & under) were won by Adam St.Pierre (1:42:08) and Samantha Wood (1:58:36).
Our two final finishers, Ben Erickson and Gary Nelson, received a standing ovation before being escorted over to the post-race BBQ for burgers and beers along with the rest of the festive post-race crowd.
Prizes included gift certificates to Runners Roost Fort Collins, in addition to Black Squirrel awards crafted in the Arts and Crafts Department of Gnar Runners, LLC.
As race directors, Pete and I are always thankful for the wonderful trail running community we have here in Fort Collins. Pulling together a volunteer crew is an essential part of putting on a successful race and as always our volunteers were the biggest source of post-race compliments that we received. So, once again, a huge thank you to all our wonderful volunteers. We couldn’t do it without you.
We also couldn’t put on the types of races that we aspire to put on without the help of our wonderful sponsors, all of whom are tireless supporters of the Northern Colorado running scene. So thank you Colorado Physical Therapy Specialists, Justin Liddle DMD, Countryside Vet, Runners Roost, Succeed, Great Harvest, IZZE and Powered by Plants.
We are greatly looking forward to the second running of the Black Squirrel Half, and hope to see you there too. Oh, and if you enjoyed the Black Squirrel, consider running it’s parent race, the Blue Sky Marathon, Fort Collins’ first (and only) trail marathon.
The Creative Department at Gnar Runners, Mary Boyts, getting significant air. Erin Bibeau.