2016 Blue Sky Marathon Race Recap

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The weather always seems to play a role at the Blue Sky Trail Marathon. Last year we sat in a cloud all day and saw some seriously fast times as a result. This year Mother Nature delivered blue skies and bright sunshine, which made for a tough back half for many of our runners. Perseverance, patience and cool heads were the name of the game, and despite a record number of DNFs (21), we were excited to also see a record number of finishers (216) work their way through the course and conditions.

We’ve always considered the Blue Sky Marathon to be a great test of all around trail running ability. The course opens with an honest climb up Towers and Carey Springs before launching into a loose descent on Stout. The middle section of the race is fast and relatively flat, but run those miles too hard and the technical Devil’s Backbone and punchy Indian Summer sections of the course can leave runners wishing they had just a bit more juice to finish out the zippy final four miles of the trail.

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Jeanne Cooper, winner

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Brent Kocis, winner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
The two runners who mastered the intricacies of the course the best this year were Brent Kocis (3:27:35) and Jeanne Cooper (3:56:34; 8th overall). They both went home with a new pair of shoes from Salomon Running and a beautiful handmade pottery award from local artist Amy Hayman. Both of our winners dipped under the magical four-hour mark, just two of nine to do so. This compares to 18 sub-4-hour finishers last year.

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‘Cookie’ Mike Neal

In the men’s race, Brent was followed home by James Walsh (3:35:04) and Eric Nau (3:39:13). The women’s podium was rounded out by Kala Maus (4:19:47) and Meghan Spieker (4:26:25), who finished 15th and 16th overall. 

The master’s victories went to Mike Neal – a race sponsor through his downtown business Mary’s Mountain Cookies – and Clara Glaze of Red Feather Lakes. Our grandmasters winners were Steve Chaffee and Karen Smidt who was out testing her legs six weeks removed from running the Leadville 100. 


Official race results

Race Photos:


In addition to keeping track of our fastest finishers, we also like to keep track of our oldest, and we had a new record on that front in the men’s division with Juergen Kuhlmey of Fort Lauderdale, FL resetting the record books with a 7:57 finish at the age of 78. We also had a youngest ever female finisher this year. Congratulations to 17-year-old Claire Hayhow on her 7:06 finish.

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Juergen Kuhlmey, 78 Years Young

And this year we saw three runners complete the Gnar Slam, finishing the 2016 renditions of the Quad Rock 50, the Never Summer 100km, the Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon and the Blue Sky Trail Marathon. Elijah Flenner posted the fastest cumulative time of the season/ever at 27:14:14. He was followed by Aaron Youngberg and Brian Boyes. They join last year’s sole completer, Rob Raguet-Schofield, in the Gnar Slam Pantheon.

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Elijah Flenner & Brian Boyes: Gnar Slammers

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AA Youngberg: Gnar Slammer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 the volunteers, whether they were parking cars in the morning, marshaling runners at the turns or filling bottles at the aid stations.

Thank YOU!

Thank YOU!

To you all, a huge THANK YOU.

We also couldn’t put on our trail races without the help of our wonderful sponsors, all of whom are tireless supporters of the Northern Colorado running scene. So thank you Salomon Running, Colorado in Motion, Drymax Socks, Altitude RunningJustin Liddle DMDCountryside Vet, and the Fort Collins Running Club for your incredible race support.

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And also to our fantastic product sponsors: Fort Collins Food Coop, VFuel, New Belgium Brewing, Julbo, Trader Joe’s, Mary’s Mountain Cookies, and Eldorado Natural Spring Water

The Blue Sky Trail Marathon marks the end of the 2016 season for us at Gnar Runners, but we are already looking forward to bigger and better things for 2017.

If you enjoyed Blue Sky, consider running the Horsetooth Half Marathon in April, the 25 or 50 mile Quad Rock races in May, the Never Summer 100km in July, the Black Squirrel Half Marathon in September, and of course the Blue Sky Marathon in October.

Thank you all again for a wonderful season, and see you in 2017!

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See you next year!

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8 Finishes for Mark Warburton

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Sixth for Marie Helene Faurie

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James Walsh & Family

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State Senator John Kefalas

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2016 Blue Sky Marathon Pre-Race Details

Blue Sky Trail Marathon Coyote Ridge

The ninth running of the Blue Sky Marathon is just a couple of days away. Hopefully your training has been on point and you’re ready for a strong run.

All information relevant to the event is available from the race website here. In addition, we’d like to bring your attention to a few key details:

The weather forecast for Sunday is showing a daytime high near 80 degrees. The Blue Sky course is very exposed over the last 18 miles and the trail can get pretty toasty, so please plan accordingly.

An optional packet pickup will be available on Saturday from 4pm to 7pm at Altitude Running. We will be handing out bibs on race morning to ensure we have an accurate list of starters. Altitude Running is located at: 150 E Harmony Rd on the northeast corner of College and Harmony.

Packet and bib pickup will be available on race morning at the Blue Sky trailhead from 5:30am to 6:30am.

Limited parking is available at the trailhead for carpools of two or more runners (55 spaces, first come, first serve) and additional parking will be at the Marina off Shoreline Drive, a half 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 entrance.

A map of the parking setup is available on the race day info page.

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 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.

Late registration (cash & check only) will be available on Saturday at packet pickup and on race morning.

The race will start promptly at 7:00am.

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.

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 adequate carrying capacity as the forecast is showing a hot day. 

One of several well stocked aid stations.

The four aid stations (six total, as the two Indian Summer aid stations are visited twice) will have water, VFuel Cool Lime 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 (Mountain Berry, Cool Citrus, and Vanilla) 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 during the race – packets will not be available.

The South Hunter turnaround is a checkpoint only – no water or aid. A volunteer will be marking bibs as people come through to make sure the loop is completed.

As a courtesy to other runners on the trail (and per the terms of our insurance policy), we ask that you not wear headphones.

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.

As always we’ll be offering a full post-race BBQ with beef burgers, vegan burgers and quinoa salad from The Fort Collins Food Co-op, Mary’s Mountain Cookies, Great Harvest cinnamon buns, New Belgium beer, fruit from Trader Joes, and Vitamin Water from El Dorado Natural Spring Water.

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 Animal House Rescue, one of the race beneficiaries.

In addition to finisher awards, we have overall and age group awards (Open: under 40, outside top three; Masters: 40 and older, outside top three; Grandmasters: 50+). We have gift cards to Altitude Running for award winners, Salomon running shoes for overall winners and a smorgasbord of sponsor gear to give away in the post-awards raffle. 

PT work will be available after the race courtesy of Colorado in Motion.

Thank you as always to our fabulous race sponsors in helping us make this event possible:

Salomon RunningColorado in Motion, Justin Liddle DMD, Drymax SocksAltitude Running, Countryside Animal Hospital, and the Fort Collins Running Club.

Thank you also to all our wonderful product supporters. Please consider supporting these businesses that support our races.

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

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

Pete Stevenson & Nick Clark
Gnar Runners, LLC
racedirector@gnarrunners.com
www.facebook.com/gnarrunners


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

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Trigger Point Dry Needling Offer from Colorado In Motion

Colorado In Motion - Terry GebhardtDo you have a nagging ache or pain that’s limiting your running performance?

Do you have calf or hip muscle tightness that doesn’t resolve with massage or rolling?

Trigger Point Dry Needling may be the solution.

Trigger Point Dry Needling is a treatment technique which uses small filament type needles to release tight muscles with the goal of permanently reducing muscle pain and dysfunction. Learn more here.

Colorado In Motion is offering a 20 minute Trigger Point Dry Needling session for only $50 for Blue Sky Marathon participants to help get you prepared for race day.

Appointments available Thursday September 29th.  Call 970-221-1201 to schedule and mention this promotion.

Visit coloradoinmotion.com for more information.

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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.

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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.

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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

Trigger Point Dry Needling Offer from Colorado In Motion

Colorado In Motion - Terry Gebhardt PTDo you have a nagging ache or pain that’s limiting your running performance?

Do you have calf or hip muscle tightness that doesn’t resolve with massage or rolling?

Trigger Point Dry Needling may be the solution.

Trigger Point Dry Needling is a treatment technique which uses small filament type needles to release tight muscles with the goal of permanently reducing muscle pain and dysfunction. Learn more here.

Colorado In Motion is offering a 20 minute Trigger Point Dry Needling session for only $50 to help get you prepared for race day. Appointments available Thursday September 8th.  Call 970-221-1201 to schedule and mention this promotion.

Visit coloradoinmotion.com for more information.

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