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 & Blue Sky Training Runs

Blue Sky Trail Marathon Course

Photo by Eric Lee

Gnar Runners will be hosting several informal training runs leading up to the Black Squirrel Half Marathon and the Blue Sky Marathon.

Black Squirrel Half Marathon Training Runs
Thursday 8/18 and 9/1 starting at 6pm at the Timber Trailhead in Lory State Park.
4.5, 8, 9.5, and full 13.1 mile route options are available.
Follow us on Facebook here or join the Fort Collins Trail Runners Group for more info.

Blue Sky Marathon Long Run
Sunday 9/4 starting at 7:30am at the Blue Sky Trailhead
We’ll have an informal potluck social gathering back at the trailhead at about 11:30-Noon after the run. More info is online here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/490427237827954/

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2016 Blue Sky Marathon Registration Opens 12/15/2015

We’re opening registration for the 2016 Blue Sky Marathon with a super early discount of just $55 on 12/15/2015!

Preparations for the 2016 season are well underway here at race HQ. We’ve got dates and a few news items to share for the 2016 Gnar Runners Race Series, which this year will be hosted in partnership with the generous support of Salomon Running.

Click here for the full details.

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News and Dates for the 2016 Gnar Race Season

Preparations for the 2016 season are well underway here at race HQ. We’ve got dates and a few news items to share for the 2016 Gnar Runners Race Series, which this year will be hosted in partnership with the generous support of Salomon Running.

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Registration for all Gnar Trail Races opens on December 15th, 2015.

Dates for the 2016 Trail Races

  • May 14, 2016: Quad Rock 25 & 50 Mile Trail Races
    – Registration Cap: 400 runners
    – 50 Mile Early Entry: $85 (same bargain pricing as the very first year).
    – Location: Lory State Park & Horsetooth Mountain Park, Fort Collins, CO
    – New This Year: Separate 25 & 50 mile start times
  • July 23, 2016: Never Summer 100km
    – Registration Cap: 330 runners
    – Early Entry Fee: $160
    – Location: State Forest State Park, Gould CO
    – New This Year: Qualifier for the 2017 Western States 100
  • September 10, 2016: Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon
    – Registration Cap: 350 runners
    – Early Entry Fee: $55
    – Location: Lory State Park, Fort Collins, CO
    – New This Year: Registration opens Dec. 15
  • October 2, 2016: Blue Sky Trail Marathon
    – Race Cap: 275 runners
    – Early Entry Fee: $55
    – Location: Horsetooth Mountain Park, Fort Collins Co
    – New This Year: Record-low early entry fee

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What’s New for 2016?

The 2016 running of the Quad Rock Trail Races will have two separate starts. The 50 miler will start as always with first light at 5:30, while the 25 mile race will start at 8:00. This should make the race check in and parking much easier and make for a larger, more social post-race BBQ.

2017 WS100 Qualifying RaceThe registration cap for the Never Summer 100km in July has been increased to 330 runners. Next year’s race will also serve as a qualifying event for the 2017 Western States 100.

We do roads too! We are incredibly honored and excited to be managing the 43rd running of the Horsetooth Half Marathon in April. The Horsetooth Half is an iconic point-to-point Fort Collins road race that hugs the eastern shoreline of Horsetooth Reservoir, navigating the challenging hills of Centennial Drive, before heading into the finish and a raucous party at New Belgium Brewing. The beer will be flowing until the last person leaves, so if you’re looking for a spring sharpener we suggest you look no further.

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 great value. And get this: we’ve dropped the early entry fee for the Blue Sky Trail Marathon to $55, the lowest it has ever been in the nine-year history of the event. This is our end of season party and we really want you to come celebrate with us.

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 with Salomon Running, one of the greatest innovators in the sport. We’ll be offering special Salomon shoe deals with retail partner Altitude Running 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.

Altitude Running Logo - 2012 FinalOur other top sponsors for the 2015 season include the following great businesses and brands:

Colorado In Motion Physical Therapy

Formerly Colorado Physical Therapy Specialists, same great care.

Drymax Socks

The Official Gnar Sock Sponsor. Keeping you blister free, no matter the conditions

Fort Collins Running Club Justin K. Liddle DMD, LLC
Countryside Animal Hospital Julbo

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 2016 season, and we can’t wait to welcome you to one, or perhaps all of our running events.

Be Gnarful out there!

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