2018 Blue Sky Marathon Race Recap

We had perfect running weather for the 11th Blue Sky Trail Marathon. And we had a fast field ready to take full advantage of the ideal running conditions, with new course records being set in both the men’s and women’s races, and a total of 265 runners hitting the finish line from a total of 279 starters.

Addie Bracy winning the 2018 Blue Sky Marathon

In the women’s race, Addie Bracy was toeing her third Gnar Runners start line of 2018, after having claimed wins at both the Quad Rock 50 and the Never Summer 100km. As in her previous starts this season, Addie would be pushed through the early miles but would ultimately come out on top. At the 9 mile aid station, Addie was running shoulder to shoulder with Estes Park’s Michelle Hiland, but through the southern section of the course she would open a gap and grow it steadily by the finish, coming home in a new course best of 3:45:37. Michelle held steady in second, finishing with a flourish to sneak under the four hour mark (3:59:39). Rounding out the podium was Sarah Roberts (4:11:31) in her third Blue Sky Marathon finish and second overall podium. 

The men’s race was close from start to finish, with a large pack coming through the nine-mile aid station, all on course-record pace. By the Hunter turnaround at mile 18, the pack had been whittled down to just two – Bobby Peavey and Brian Condon – and they would remain connected all the way to an exciting sprint finish, where Denver’s Peavey edged out Longmont’s Condon by just a second in a new course best of 3:11:47. The new mark bests a Steve Folkerts record that has stood since 2009. Coming in third was Frank Pipp, who rounded out his Gnar Runners racing season with yet another podium after a win at the Black Squirrel Half Marathon and two seconds at the Never Summer 100km and Quad Rock 50. With his season filled with podiums, Frank took top honors in the Gnar Slam standing, setting a convincing new cumulative best time in the process (see below). 

Bobby Peavey out-sprints Brian Condon for the win and new course record at the 2018 Blue Sky Marathon.

The master’s wins went to Terry Grenwelge (4:02:44) and Candy Granger (4:30:36). The grandmasters winners were Sabrina Naftel (5:34:12) and Blaise Brochard (4:04:57). All award winners took home beautiful pottery awards from local artisan Amy Hayman in addition to gift cards from Altitude Running. 


Race Photos:


This year we saw 11 runners complete the Gnar Slam. The Gnar Slam is a recognition of those runner that complete all four Gnar Runners trail races in a calendar year:

As noted above, Frank Pipp came away top in the points standings on the men’s side. His cumulative time of 25:09:02, bested Elijah Flenner’s 2016 record by over two hours. In the women’s standings, Colleen Weitzel also posted a new record time (36:45:26), besting Kristen Kovatch’s record from 2018 by 48 minutes.

A hearty congratulations to all of our 2018 Gnar Slam finishers.

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.

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. Thank you Salomon RunningColorado in MotionDrymax SocksAltitude RunningJustin Liddle DMDCountryside Animal Hospital, Jax Mercantile and the Fort Collins Running Club for your incredible race support.

And also to our fantastic product sponsors: VFuelNew Belgium BrewingGreat Harvest Bread Co.Squirrel’s Nut ButterMary’s Mountain Cookies, Juice Performer, and Boulder Organic!

The Blue Sky Trail Marathon marks the end of the 2018 season for us at Gnar Runners, but we’re already looking forward to 2019 with excitement.

Thank you all again for a wonderful season, and see you in 2019!

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2018 Blue Sky Marathon Pre-Race Information

The 11th running of the Blue Sky Trail Marathon is this Saturday. 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 through the rest of the week and into Saturday looks great with daytime highs in the low 60s. However be aware that the Blue Sky course is very exposed over the last 18 miles and the trail can get pretty toasty, so please plan accordingly if we get warmer than predicted temperatures.

An optional packet pickup will be available on Friday 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.

Altitude Running will be offering a 20% discount on both Salomon and Drymax products at packet pickup. Salomon will also be offering a gift with any Salomon purchase.

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

Limited parking is available at the Blue Sky trailhead by the race start for carpools of two or more *runners* (55 spaces, first come, first serve) and additional parking will be at the Marina off Shoreline Drive, 3/4 of a 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.

Runner Drop Off will be just off Shoreline Drive around the corner from the Blue Sky Trailhead. 

**Parking is not allowed anywhere on 38E, along Shoreline Drive, or on any connecting residential street.**

Additional details and a map of the parking setup is available on the race website here.

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 of the race 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.

The race will start promptly at 7:00am.

There is a 10am cut off at the mile 9.2 Blue Sky aid station. Indian Summer South cut off times are 12:30pm outbound (15.6 miles) and 1:45pm inbound (20.3 miles). 

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 so you can hydrate adequately between aid stations

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 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 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 from the aid stations during the race – packets will not be available.

The South Hunter turnaround is a checkpoint only – no water or aid. A volunteer will be checking bib numbers as runners 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.

We’ll be offering a full post-race BBQ with bratwurst and vegan burgers, and soup from Boulder Organic (both gluten free and vegan options). Also look for Mary’s Mountain CookiesGreat Harvest cinnamon buns, New Belgium beer, and Juice Performer. If you want a beer after your run, please remember to bring your id. 

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 our race beneficiaries Athlete’s in Tandem and Beyond Rescue.

In addition to finisher awards, we have overall and age group awards, with Altitude Running gift cards for award winners, Salomon running packs for overall winners and a smorgasbord of sponsor gear to give away in the post-awards raffle. We will also be recognizing the 2018 Gnar Slam finishers. 

PT work will be available after the race courtesy of Colorado in Motion, with massage offered by Diane Bergstedt.  

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

Salomon RunningColorado in MotionJustin Liddle DMDDrymax SocksAltitude RunningCountryside Animal Hospital, the Fort Collins Running Club, and Jax Mercantile.

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 or on the website, then please email (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!


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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2018 Gnar Slam Update

With three races down and just one left to go in the Gnar Runners 2018 season, there are 11 runners remaining in the 2018 Gnar Slam standings. And there is pressure being put on both the men’s and women’s overall records.

Frank Pipp on 7 Utes Mountain on his way to a second place finish at the Never Summer 100km

After winning the sixth running of the Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon on September 8, Frank Pipp has consolidated his place at the top of the 2018 standings with a current cumulative time of 21:51:40. The overall four-race record, set by Elijah Flenner in 2016, stands at 27:14:14, which means Frank would need to finish the Blue Sky Trail Marathon in under 5:22:34 to claim a new cumulative Gnar Slam best.

In the points standings, Frank has all but clinched the 2018 Gnar Slam title. Clint Anders would need an overall win at Blue Sky and Frank would need to finish with less than 70 points (~4:40:00) to lose his lead.

The women’s standings are currently topped by Gnar Team member Colleen Weitzel who has a three-race cumulative time of 32:08:41. To better Kristen Kovatch‘s record-setting time from last year (37:33:51), Colleen will need to run 5:25:09 or faster at next month’s Blue Sky Trail Marathon.

In this year’s standings, Colleen has less than a 16 point lead on second place Tina Duncan, which equates to an approximately 45 minute spread for Blue Sky. Tina and Colleen were neck and neck at the Black Squirrel Half with Colleen edging Tina out by less than a minute. Tina has a faster Blue Sky PR (4:42:21) than Colleen (4:56:56), but can she beat her by more than 45 minutes to take the overall win in the 2018 Gnar Slam? Anything can happen. 

Shari Green rounds out our women’s field of Gnar Slammers. 

Colleen getting the work done at a rainy 2018 Quad Rock 50

Among our other male Slammers, Ed Delosh and Rob Broomfield are on track to repeat their 2017 Slam finishes, both with a shot at going quicker than last year. At the age of 66, Ivan Rezucha will become our oldest ever Gnar Slammer with a Blue Sky Trail Marathon finish.


Ivan Rezucha & Ed Delosh at the Black Squirrel Half Marathon. 

For current and historical standings for all runners, check out the Gnar Slam page. 

The Gnar Slam is recognition of those runners that complete all Gnar Runners trail running events in one calendar year. All finishers will receive a commemorative award plus free entry into the 2019 Quad Rock.

The Gnar Slam consists of the following four races:

  • Quad Rock 50 mile (14 hours)
  • Never Summer 100km (24 hours)
  • Black Squirrel Half Marathon (5:30 hours)
  • Blue Sky Marathon (9 hours)
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Blue Sky Marathon & Black Squirrel Half Training

Need some motivation to train for the Blue Sky Marathon or Black Squirrel Half Marathon?

Click here for a 15 week training program for the marathon and a 9 week training program for the half marathon. 

We will be hosting a series of Tuesday evening training runs at Lory State Park starting August 7th. Stay tuned for more info.

Sign up for the Blue Sky Marathon by 6/30 to take advantage of our $65 early registration deal!

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Gnar Runners 2018 UTMB Qualifying Races

UTMB Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc Qualifying RaceWe are proud to announce that Quad Rock, Never Summer, and the Blue Sky Marathon are now Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® qualifying races.

Registration is now open for all Gnar Runners 2018 trail races. Sign up for the full Gnar Slam and earn 10 UTMB points!

A lone runner descends from North Diamond Peak on the way to Montgomery Pass on the Never Summer 100K course.

The view of Longs Peak from the Quad Rock 50 course.

Technical rocky trail at Devil’s Backbone on the Blue Sky Trail Marathon course.

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2018 Gnar Race Registrations to Open Dec 15

Registration for all four races in the 2018 Gnar Trail Racing Series will open on December 15. Once again, we’re proud to be hosting all four of our trail running events in partnership with our top brand sponsor, Salomon Running.

Gnar_manSalomon

Registration for all Gnar Trail Races opens on December 15th, 2017.

Dates for the 2018 Trail Races

  • May 12, 2018: Quad Rock 25 & 50 Mile Trail Races
    – 50 Mile Early Entry: $95
    – Location: Lory State Park, Fort Collins, CO
    – Race Cap: 400
  • July 28, 2018: Never Summer 100km
    – Early Entry Fee: $175
    – Location: State Forest State Park, Gould CO
    – Race Cap: 300
  • September 8, 2018: Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon
    – Early Entry Fee: $65
    – Location: Lory State Park, Fort Collins, CO
    – Race Cap: 300
  • October 20, 2018: Blue Sky Trail Marathon
    – Early Entry Fee: $65
    – Location: Horsetooth Mountain Park, Fort Collins, CO
    – Race Cap: 300

Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon Finish at Lory State ParkNever Summer 100K Climb up North Diamond

What’s New for 2018?

  • The Quad Rock Trail Races will again have separate start times for the 25 and 50 mile events. The 50 miler will start as always with first light at 5:30, while the 25 mile race will start at 8:00.
  • The short re-route on the Spring Creek section of the Quad Rock course may be implemented again next year. Final plans will be published in April and will be dependent on where and if the eagles nest in the crags above Spring Creek.
  • Due to the logistical challenges of getting into and out of the Clear Lake aid location at the Never Summer 100km, we have removed it as a crew/pacer access point for 2018.
  • The cap for Never Summer has been cut slightly to 300 starters.
  • Never Summer will again be a qualifying race for the Western States 100. In addition, we have submitted applications for both Quad Rock and Never Summer to serve as UTMB qualifying races.
  • We have added a couple of extra age group award categories for the Black Squirrel Half and Blue Sky Marathon, with 10-year increments from <30 to 60+.
  • With the success and excitement surrounding the Gnar Slam this year, we will again be offering end-of-season awards and a free entry into the 2019 Quad Rock Trail Races for all runners that complete the Quad Rock 50, Never Summer 100km, Black Squirrel Trail Half, and Blue Sky Marathon.
Gnar Slam Class of 2017 Finishers

The Gnar Slam class of 2017.

  • Once again we’ll be managing the Horsetooth Half Marathon in 2018. This year, we’ll be celebrating the 45th running of Colorado’s oldest half marathon. The race will be offering all the fun you’ve come to expect from the Horsetooth Half, with group training runs beginning in January, a super-sized post-race party at New Belgium Brewing and the biggest half marathon purse ($8,000) in the state.

Great Partners

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.

Altitude Running Logo - 2012 FinalWe’ll be offering special Salomon shoe deals with our retail partner, Altitude Running, at all pre-race packet pickups. We’ll also be offering the opportunity to demo Salomon kicks at training runs, community events and race-day expos.

Our other top sponsors for the 2017 season include the following great businesses and brands:

Colorado In Motion Physical Therapy

Getting Fort Collins runners back on their feet

Drymax Socks

The official sock of the 2018 Gnar Runners race series.

Fort Collins Running ClubCountryside Animal Hospital

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.

Stay tuned for updates about new events, training opportunities, and our expanded Gnar Running Team. Follow us on Facebook for the latest updates as our 2018 season unfolds.

We’re incredibly excited for the 2018 season, and we can’t wait to welcome you to one, or perhaps all of our running events.

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