Ed Delosh, a CSU professor, is bouncing back from an injury that threatened to end his running career. In 2017, he’s determined to prove the doctors wrong by completing the Gnar Slam. His journey starts with the Quad Rock 50 in May.
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.
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!
This summer, we’re going to follow four runners on their quest to finish the Gnar Slam. To earn the title of Gnar Slammer, our runners will need to complete the Quad Rock 50, the Never Summer 100km, the Black Squirrel Half Marathon, and the Blue Sky Marathon under the races’ respective cut-offs.
All four are relatively new to ultrarunning and one – Vince Vigil – has never raced longer than the half marathon distance. We’ll be introducing our Gnar Slammers over the next two weeks as we get ready for the Quad Rock preview run on April 1.
Today we’d like to introduce you to Vince Vigil, a self-described “old fat guy” who’s “gonna try and run the Gnar Slam.”
The fall permitting season has been a busy one for us here at Gnar Runners headquarters, with more than a few twists and turns to keep us on our toes. But the pieces are now in place and we’re ready to announce our dates and news for the 2017 season, which we’ll once again be hosting with the generous support of our top brand sponsor, Salomon Running.
Registration for all Gnar Trail Races opens on December 15th, 2016.
Dates for the 2017 Trail Races
- May 13, 2017: Quad Rock 25 & 50 Mile Trail Races
– New This Year: Cap increase to 400 starters
– 50 Mile Early Entry: $85 (same bargain pricing as our very first year in 2012).
– Location: Lory State Park, Fort Collins, CO
- July 22, 2017: Never Summer 100km
– New This Year: Cap increase to 350 starters
– Early Entry Fee: $175
– Location: State Forest State Park, Gould CO
- September 9, 2017: Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon
– Race Cap: 300 runners
– Early Entry Fee: $60
– Location: Lory State Park, Fort Collins, CO
– New This Year: All-new picnic area and beefed-up after party
- October 21, 2017: Blue Sky Trail Marathon
– Race Cap: 275 runners
– Early Entry Fee: $65
– Location: Horsetooth Mountain Park, Fort Collins Co
– New This Year: Date pushed back 3 weeks to improve parking logistics
What’s New for 2017?
- In 2016, we experimented with separate start times for the 25 and 50 mile Quad Rock Trail Races and things worked out well, so we’ll be continuing that format for 2017. The 50 miler will start as always with first light at 5:30, while the 25 mile race will start at 8:00. We implemented this change for a number of logistical reasons, but most importantly we wanted to create a larger and more social post-race BBQ. It’s that community vibe that makes trail and ultra running so special, so bring a chair and hang out for a while!
In partnership with our permitting agencies, we have negotiated cap increases for both Quad Rock and the Never Summer 100km. Both races have been sellouts from their opening years, so we’ve worked hard to figure out ways to build capacity and meet demand, while doing it in a sustainable manner. The cap for Quad Rock across both races has been increased to 400 starters and for Never Summer to 350. These caps are as high as we are comfortable raising them so they will remain in effect moving forward.
- Aside from the cap increase, much will remain the same for the third running of the Never Summer 100km. We are working hard to improve a number of behind-the-scenes logistical pieces, but the most significant changes from a runner/crew perspective will be the relocation of the Diamond Peaks aid station from the Highway 14 pullout down course to the Lake Agnes Rd. In addition, we have worked with our start/finish hosts at the Gould Community Center to significantly expand and improve the parking areas and will be offering a limited number of car camping spots on site.
- We’re ‘formalizing’ the Gnar Slam with an end-of-season award and a free entry into the 2018 Quad Rock Trail Races for all finishers. To be eligible for the award and free 2018 Quad Rock entry, participants must complete the Quad Rock 50, Never Summer 100km, Black Squirrel Trail Half, and Blue Sky Marathon. To date we have had just four finishers – all male – with Elijah Flenner (2016) our fastest Slammer. Who’ll take on the challenge in 2017? And who’ll be our first female finishers? Click here for more details.
We continue to do roads too!
The Fort Collins Running Club has extended our contract to manage the 44th running of the Horsetooth Half Marathon in April 2017. If you’re looking for an early spring road event that offers something a little more challenging than the road norm, then consider taking the journey from the Holiday Twin Drive In to New Belgium Brewery by way of the challenging hills of the easternmost hogbacks of the Northern Colorado Rockies. The beer and music at the finish will be flowing and rocking until the last person leaves, so if you’re looking for a spring sharpener we suggest you look no further.
Value for Money
As always, we seek to offer the best bang for the buck that we possibly can, without scrimping on any of the things that make Gnar Runner events the top-shelf experiences that you’ve come to expect. In that spirit, we’ve maintained first-year pricing for the Quad Rock 50, which at $85 continues to represent some of the best value in Colorado ultrarunning. And, as always, at all Gnar events you can expect:
- Hot food and cold beer after your run
- A fantastic post-race vibe
- Great courses on well-marked trails
- Unique awards
- Great swag giveaways
- High quality event t-shirts
- (Free) on-course training opportunities leading up to each event
Part of the reason we’re able to offer such great value for all our races is because we’ve worked tirelessly to partner with quality sponsors that share our vision for well-managed, yet affordable events. This year we are 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 deals with our retail partners at all pre-race packet pickups. We’ll also be offering the opportunity to demo Salomon kicks at training runs and at race-day expos.
Our other top sponsors for the 2017 season include the following great businesses and brands:
We’ll have other exciting sponsor deals to promote as the season gets underway, in addition to tons of sponsor swag to give out during the BBQ awards and raffle at each and every race.
We’re incredibly excited for the 2017 season, and we can’t wait to welcome you to one, or perhaps all of our running events.
Be Gnarful out there!
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.
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.
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.
- Erin Bibeau (Towers & Finish)
- Bradley Olwin (Laughing Horse)
- Rob Raguet-Schofield (Stout & Indian Summer)
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.
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.
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.
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 Running, Justin Liddle DMD, Countryside Vet, and the Fort Collins Running Club for your incredible race support.
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!