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

Elise McKnight Gnar Slammer

Elise McKnight is a nurse from Fort Collins, CO. She finished her first 50 miler this winter in Antelope Canyon and plans to take on the Gnar Slam this summer.

The Never Summer 100k will be Elise’s longest run ever, and we’re excited to follow along as she attempts to become our first ever female Slammer. Check out which race she fears the most and the one she’s most looking forward to.

Share

David Boyd Gnar Slammer

David Boyd is a nurse and avid runner from Fort Collins, CO. To date, the longest he has raced is 50 kilometers. Last weekend, he kicked off his 2017 season with an impressive sixth place finish at the Salida Marathon. Next up is the Quad Rock 50 and the start of the 2017 Gnar Slam.

We’ll be following Dave all summer as he works his way through the series. Can he put pressure on Elijah Flenner’s record from 2016? We’re looking forward to finding out!

Share