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.
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).
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.
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 Running, Colorado in Motion, Drymax Socks, Altitude Running, Justin Liddle DMD, Countryside Animal Hospital, Jax Mercantile and the Fort Collins Running Club for your incredible race support.
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!