A Roundup from the 5th Running of the Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon

Lory State Park offers some of the best trail running on Colorado’s Northern Front Range, so it was once again our great honor to be able to host a tour of the perimeter trails at the fifth running of the Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon. And, with a beautiful sunrise popping up over the eastern shores of Horsetooth Reservoir, a record 330 runners set off on the 13.1 mile tour of Lory State Park on Saturday morning.

In the men’s race, defending champion Stephen Pretak had a good group of runners to work with as he entered the Timber climb, one mile into the race, but by the time he popped out onto the Arthurs Trail at the bottom of the Howard descent some 7 miles later, he was all alone off the front. Pretak would go on to hold his position and notch a second consecutive race win in 1:35:48. In a close battle for second, Pretak was followed home by an exuberant Peter Goble (1:39:23) with Craig Depperschmidt less than 30 seconds back in third (1:39:51).   

Two-time winner, Amanda Lee, was a late drop from the women’s field, leaving the race for top honors wide open. Local road running favorite Abby Depperschimdt took to the trails for her first go at the Black Squirrel Half and never looked back, winning the race in a time of 1:52:47. Abby finished a convincing seven minutes ahead of Sarah Omann (2:00:37) who notched her third second-place finish in as many attempts. Rounding out the women’s podium was Loveland’s Stephanie Forrest-Swedenborg in a time of 2:03:00.


Abby Depperscmidt (photo: Danielle Clark); Stephen Pretak (Bryan Bibeau)

The race for the 40+ honors was a battle, as you might expect from our crowd of wily veteran race tacticians. The top three master’s runners in the male division went 8th, 10th and 12th respectively with a good amount of in-race position shifting according to the post-race banter. Ultimately it would be Colorado Spring’s Bryan Beiner bringing home the master’s title in a time of 1:44:33. He was followed into the finish by Mike Neal (1:45:42) and Dan Clark (1:46:21) who, incidentally, went one and two in the master’s race at April’s Horsetooth Half Marathon (where Clark bettered Neal by just six seconds).  

In the female 40+ division, we had a repeat winner in the form of Fort Collins’ Catherine Thomas Broom who, on a much warmer day, finished six minutes faster than in 2016 (2:04:57). Rounding out the women’s 40+ division was Steamboat Spring’s Kristi Foster (2:09:53) and Bellvue’s very own Sarah Melby (2:16:24), both of whom we should mention have been enthusiastic volunteers at our races for many years. 


Bryan Beiner, Catherine Thomas Broome, Kristi Foster

Our youngest finisher this year was Omaha’s (and CSU’s) Malik Abdessalam at a very mature 18 years of age. On the other end of the age spread, we had two impressive 68 year-old finishes from Mary Gilbert (another stalwart race volunteer) and Steve Joyce. 

Prizes for overall and age group winners included Salomon running shoes and packs, Altitude gift certificates and Drymax running socks. And, of course, the coveted Black Squirrel awards lovingly crafted in the Gnar Runners Gnarts and Crafts Department.

Of course, these races don’t happen without the help of an army of volunteers. The Liberty Middle School XC Team was out at our Arthur’s aid stations, the CSU Food & Nutrution Club served 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.

The Liberty Middle School XC Team reporting in for Arthurs Aid Station duty. The race will make a donation to Athlete’s in Tandem on their behalf in return for their time. Pic: Danielle Clark

We also couldn’t do what we do without the help of our wonderful sponsors, all of whom are tireless supporters of the Northern Colorado running scene. Thank you to our top tier sponsors: Salomon RunningAltitude RunningColorado in MotionDrymax Socks, and Justin Liddle DMD.

If you enjoyed Black Squirrel and are considering a step up in distance, why not join us on October 21 for the tenth running of the Blue Trail Sky Marathon. This local favorite will be our last event of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top tier support from:

Salomon Drymax Socks 
Colorado In Motion Physical Therapy Altitude Running Justin Liddle DMD Prosthodontist

Contributing support from:
Countryside Animal Hospital Fort Collins Running Club

Generous product support from:
VFuelNew BelgiumMary’s Mountain CookiesSquirrel’s Nut ButterGreat Harvest Bread Company, the Fort Collins Food Co-op, and Blue Phoenix Massage.

Share

2017 Black Squirrel Pre-Race Information

Black Squirrel Trail Half MarathonAll information relevant to the 5th running of the Black Squirrel Half Marathon is available on the race website. Here are a few final details and reminders.

The current weather forecast is showing a race-day high in the high 80s. 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.

Packet pickup will be available on Friday afternoon from 4pm to 7pm at Altitude Running located at 150 E Harmony Rd., Fort Collins, CO 80525 (northeast corner of College and Harmony). We will be distributing bib numbers, race Tshirts, Squirrels Nut Butter samples, Justin Liddle DMD toothbrushes, and will have additional Gnar Runners and Black Squirrel merchandise for sale. 

Packet pickup will also be available on race morning from 5:15am to 6:30am.

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 runners. 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.

Bibs must be visible from the front. Please do not remove your pull tag.

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.

Black Squirrel Trail Half BBQTrails 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 you finish, stick around for our post race party and Great Harvest pancake breakfast. Vegan and gluten free options will be available thanks to the Fort Collins Food Co-Op. We’ll also have lots of other goodies from Mary’s Mountain Cookies, Trader Joe’s, and Fat Tire beer from New Belgium Brewing.

Additional post-race food and beer for family and friends can be purchased for a $10 cash donation to our post-race beneficiary, the CSU Food & Nutrition Club, if not already purchased with registration.

Home Fried Boogaloo will be serving up funk flavored with Jazz, Soul, R&B, Boogaloo, and Go Go.

Salomon Running will be demoing shoes for runners to try out after the race, and we’ll be giving away a pair of Salomon shoes to our top male and female finishers.

In addition to finisher awards and T-shirts, we will also be giving out unique overall and age group awards to the top three (male and female) in the following categories: overall, under 40, masters (40 – 49), and grandmasters (50+). We’ll also have some other sponsor gear and goodies to raffle off during and after the awards.

Massage and PT work will be available after the race courtesy of Colorado in Motion, Erin Mader, and Blue Phoenix Massage.

Thank you to our very generous top sponsors: Salomon Running, Colorado in Motion, Justin Liddle DMD, Drymax SocksAltitude Running, Countryside Animal Hospital, and the Fort Collins Running Club for their support in helping make this event possible.

Thank you also to all our wonderful product supporters. Please consider supporting these businesses who support the race.

If you have questions that are not answered here or on the website, then please email us at racedirector@gnarrunners.com. We will do our level best to respond in a timely manner.

We sincerely look forward to seeing you all on Saturday morning!

Pete Stevenson & Nick Clark


Top Tier Sponsors

Salomon Drymax Socks Colorado In Motion Physical Therapy
Altitude Running Justin Liddle DMD Prosthodontist

Race Support

Countryside Animal Hospital Fort Collins Running Club

Share

Join us for an evening of trail talk 8/23 at Altitude Running

Do you have questions about trail running or want to learn more about the sport? Join us for a fun night of trail running discussion on August 23rd at Altitude Running. The evening will feature a Q&A discussion with a diverse panel of trail runners, beginning at 6:00pm.

The panel Q&A will be mixed in with gear giveaways from Salomon Running, Drymax Socks and other race sponsors. We will also be featuring a Black Squirrel video course preview, with time afterwards for questions and discussion specific to the route and race strategy. During the evening, enjoy a beverage or two from our friends at New Belgium Brewing. 

The panel

Cat Bradley 2017 Western States ChampionCat Bradley shot to trail and ultrarunning stardom this June when she defied the odds in winning the famed and historic Western States Endurance Run. Hear her thoughts from that day and garner tips on how to improve your race performance. 

 

Lucas Mouttet owns and operates the Never Summer Outdoor School, teaching avalanche safety and wilderness first aid. A trail runner, mountain biker and backcountry skier, Lucas is uniquely qualified to discuss any and all issues related to trail safety. 

 

Sara Callor is the store manager at Altitude Running. She ran the Pikes Peak Ascent as her first trail race some 10 years ago and returned to the trails last year to run the Black Squirrel Half. Come armed with gear questions. Sara has answers. 

 

 

Stephen PretakStephen Pretak is the current men’s champion and only person to have run under 90 minutes on the Black Squirrel course. Despite these impressive accolades, Stephen is still relatively new to trail running and sometimes feels like he’s still trying to figure it out. You’ve got questions about transitioning to the trails, he’ll come up with answers.

Share

2016 Black Squirrel Post-Race Wrap

Sunrise at the 2016 Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon

September is a great time of year to race on the trails here on the Front Range, and we were treated to another picture perfect morning for the 4th running of the Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon. With the sun popping up over the horizon, just under 300 runners set off on the 13.3 mile tour of Lory State Park’s outer border trails.

blacksquirrel2016-14

Pretak

Pretak

From the gun, it was pre-race favorites Stephen Pretak and Amanda Lee who set the early pace in the men’s and women’s races. Both would hold on for the victories in their respective races, and for the fourth straight year the men’s course record would be lowered. Pretak’s time of 1:29:05 is the race’s first finish under 1:30 and a minute quicker than Aaron Anderson’s winning time from 2015. Amanda Lee notched her second straight Black Squirrel win with a 1:48:56 finishing time. Her time ranks as the second fastest ever behind Melissa Dock’s 2014 winning time of 1:45:06.

Cookie Mike Neal - 2016 Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon

Cookie Mike on his way to the master’s win.

Second and third in the men’s race were Horsecow Lonac (1:35:13) and Erik Nau (1:37:21), while in the women’s race Michelle Gailey from Sydney Australia finished three minutes adrift from Lee in second, followed by Fort Collins local Molly Soasey in third (1:58:17).

After winning and setting course records in the master’s division of both the Quad Rock 50 mile and Never Summer 100km races, Elijah Flenner was the odds-on favorite for the Black Squirrel master’s title. Pushed the whole way, Elijah was overtaken in the valley by Lory local Mike Neal – owner and operator of race supporter Mary’s Mountain Cookies Old Town. Cookie Mike would go on to register the master’s win in a time of 1:38:37, followed a minute and a half later by Elijah. Ed Delosh rounded out the men’s master’s podium.

In the female master’s division, it was Catherine Thomas from Fort Collins who took home the honors in a time of 2:02:00. She was followed by Amy Walsh (2:11:43) and Tonya Barber (2:14:08).

The open divisions (non-podium, under 40) were won by Rob Raguet-Schofield (1:39:10) and Rachel Dean. In the grandmaster’s division, Tony Dragan from Fort Collins set a commanding new divisional course record with an impressive 1:46:53, while Cathy Zitti posted an equally impressive finishing time of 2:10:57 for the over 50 competition, just a couple minutes off Theresa Rudel’s divisional mark from 2014.

Tony Draganblacksquirrel2016-296Molly Soasey Black Squirrel Half Marathon

Our youngest finisher this year was Opfer Camden (2:35), a 13-year-old from Fort Collins. On the other end of the age spread, we had two impressive septuagenarian finishes from 72-year-old Phil Nissen (3:11, LeHigh Acres, FL) and 73-year-old Jammie McMillin (3:49:44, Colorado Springs).

Coveted 2016 Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon Awards

Coveted!

Prizes for overall and age group winners included Salomon running shoes and packs, Julbo sunglasses and Drymax socks. And, of course, the coveted Black Squirrel awards lovingly crafted in the Gnar Runners Gnarts and Crafts Department.

Of course, these races don’t happen without the help of an army of volunteers, and as always 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.

2016 Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon Post-Race BBQ

Animal House Volunteers Working the BBQ

We also couldn’t do what we do without the help of our wonderful sponsors, all of whom are tireless supporters of the Northern Colorado running scene. Thank you to our top tier sponsors: Salomon RunningAltitude Running, Colorado in Motion, Drymax Socks, and Justin Liddle DMD.

For more images from the day, please visit Erin Bibeau Photography. Digital images are available for download starting at 99 cents and print options are available too.

We look forward to seeing you again on September 9th, 2017. Or, if you want more Gnar-filled trail racing fun this year, then check out the ninth running of the Blue Sky Marathon on October 2nd. This local favorite will be our last event of the year.

2016 Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon Finish

Black Squirrel Finish

Corrie Stevens - 2016 Black Squirrel Trail Half MarathonSara Callor Black Squirrel Half MarathonCharles Danforth - 2016 Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon

Top tier support from:

Salomon Drymax Socks
Colorado In Motion Physical Therapy Altitude Running Justin Liddle DMD Prosthodontist

Contributing support from:
Countryside Animal Hospital Fort Collins Running Club

Generous product support from:
VFuel, New Belgium, Fort Collins Food Co-OperativeMary’s Mountain Cookies, Julbo, Trader Joe’sSquirrel’s Nut ButterEldorado Natural Spring WaterKristel Liddle, LMT, and the Great Harvest Bread Company.

Share

2016 Black Squirrel Pre-Race Information

Black Squirrel Trail Half MarathonAll information relevant to the 4th running of the Black Squirrel Half Marathon is available on the race website. Here are a few final details and reminders.

The current weather forecast is showing an overnight low in the high 40s, a sunny morning, and a race-day high in the low 80s. 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 Arthurs aid station – visited twice – will also carry snacks and fruit.

Packet pickup will be available on Friday afternoon from 4pm to 7pm at Altitude Running located at 150 E Harmony Rd., Fort Collins, CO 80525 (northeast corner of College and Harmony). Packet pickup will also be available on race morning from 5:30am to 6:30am.

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 1/2 a mile or longer to the start from their car, so we recommend getting to Lory State Park no later than 6:30. Please plan to arrive earlier 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 runners. 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 pageParking passes will be handed out at the park entrance when you arrive.

Bibs must be visible from the front. Please do not remove your pull tag.

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.

Black Squirrel Trail Half BBQWe have a great BBQ planned with burgers & brats, veggie (vegan) burgers and vegan quinoa salad from the Fort Collins Food Co-Op, Great Harvest cinnamon buns, Mary’s Mountain Cookies, fruit from Trader Joe’s, El Dorado Vitamin Water, and Fat Tire beer from New Belgium Brewing.

Additional meals can be purchased at the BBQ for family and friends for a $10 cash donation to Animal House Rescue if not already purchased with registration.

Salomon Running will be demoing shoes for runners to try out after the race, and we’ll be giving away a pair of Salomon shoes to our top male and female finishers. We’ll also have Julbo sunglasses to give out to our age group winners.

In addition to finisher awards and T-shirts, we will also be giving out unique overall and age group awards to the top three (male and female) in the following categories: overall, under 40, masters (40 – 49), and grandmasters (50+). We’ll also have some other gear and goodies to raffle off during and after the awards.

Massage and PT work will be available after the race courtesy of Colorado in Motion and Kristel Liddle LMT.

If you have any nagging aches or pains that might prevent you from running your best or making it to the starting line, Colorado In Motion is offering discounted Trigger Point Dry Needling sessions for our runners this Thursday 9/8. More info is online here.

Thank you to our very generous sponsors: Salomon Running, Colorado in Motion, Justin Liddle DMD, Drymax SocksAltitude Running, Countryside Animal Hospital, and the Fort Collins Running Club for their support in helping us make this event possible.

Thank you also to all our wonderful product supporters. Please consider supporting these businesses who support the race.

If you have questions that are not answered here or on the website, then please email us at racedirector@gnarrunners.com. We will do our level best to respond in a timely manner.

We sincerely look forward to seeing you all on Saturday morning!

Nick Clark & Pete Stevenson


Top Tier Sponsors

Salomon Drymax Socks Colorado In Motion Physical Therapy
Altitude Running Justin Liddle DMD Prosthodontist

Race Support

Countryside Animal Hospital Fort Collins Running Club

Share

2016 Black Squirrel & Blue Sky Training Runs

Blue Sky Trail Marathon Course

Photo by Eric Lee

Gnar Runners will be hosting several informal training runs leading up to the Black Squirrel Half Marathon and the Blue Sky Marathon.

Black Squirrel Half Marathon Training Runs
Thursday 8/18 and 9/1 starting at 6pm at the Timber Trailhead in Lory State Park.
4.5, 8, 9.5, and full 13.1 mile route options are available.
Follow us on Facebook here or join the Fort Collins Trail Runners Group for more info.

Blue Sky Marathon Long Run
Sunday 9/4 starting at 7:30am at the Blue Sky Trailhead
We’ll have an informal potluck social gathering back at the trailhead at about 11:30-Noon after the run. More info is online here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/490427237827954/

Share