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.

Gnar_manSalomon

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

NeverSummer2015-305-XL-SoGood

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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Cool Temps, Fast Times at the 2015 Blue Sky Marathon

Reese-Ruland-Blue-Sky-Marathon

Reese Ruland on her way to setting a new Women’s CR. All photos: Terry Grenwelge

Cool weather conditions resulted in fast times at the eighth running of the Blue Sky Marathon, with a total of 204 runners crossing the finish line within the nine-hour cutoff.

Ginna-Ellis-Blue-Sky-Marathon

Ginna Ellis on her way to a second-place finish

After setting a convincing new course record in the Quad Rock 25 mile race in June, Reese Ruland (Fort Collins) returned to her second Gnar Runners starting line of the season to lead from start to finish in the women’s Blue Sky Trail Marathon, setting a commanding new course record of 3:48:15 in the process. She bested Maria Petzold’s record from 2014 by six minutes. Ginna Ellis (Boulder) avenged a tough 2014 Blue Sky Marathon by finishing a very strong second (3:56:40), setting a 13 minute personal best in her third running of the race. Ginna now has the fourth and ninth fastest all-time marks. Rounding out the podium was former Olympic marathoner Nuta Olaru (Longmont) in a time of 4:21:40.

It was a youthful podium in the men’s race, with 24-year-old Oregon resident Kody Coxen leading the charge and setting the second-fastest time in the race’s history (3:16:19). Kody was closely followed by 20-year-old local, Cody Moore, who’s time of 3:18:48 was the third fastest ever run. Last year’s winner Nick Davis rounded out the podium in a new PR of 3:25:59.

Nick & Cody Blue Sky Marathon

Nick Davis and Cody Moore would finish third and second respectively

Cherilyn Sackal (4:36:59) and Clint Wall (3:58:23) won the master’s divisions, while the grandmaster’s divisions (50+) were won by Ben Kuster (4:36:20) and Marianna Inslee (5:30:58).

Big-Smiles-Blue-Sky-Marathon

All Smiles at the Blue Sky Marathon

Mark-Warburton-Blue-Sky-Marathon

A seventh finish for Mark Warburton

In all, a record 18 runners dipped under the magical four-hour mark.

In addition to keeping track of our fastest finishers, we also like to keep track of our oldest, and we had new records on that front on both the women’s and men’s sides from our last two finishers of the day. Bill Moyle of Lone Pine was back for his third Blue Sky finish, resetting the record books at the age of 76. Bill finished just after Carol Young from Houston, TX, who was back in Fort Collins to avenge her 2014 DNF. At the age of 69, Carol becomes our oldest ever female finisher, describing Blue Sky as the toughest of all the 59 marathons that she’s completed.

And of course, our races would simply not be the same without the magnificent support of our volunteers from the local trail running community. 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.

Blue-Sky-Marathon-Aid

Rainbows: no; unicorns: yes

Prizes at the awards ceremony included Altra running shoes and Timex watches for our overall winners, and gift certificates to Altitude Running for our age group winners, in addition to framed award photos from our wonderful photographer, Erin Bibeau. Photos from Erin’s stand-in for the day, her husband Bryan, can be viewed here.

We also couldn’t put on the types of races that we seek to put on without the help of our wonderful sponsors, all of whom are tireless supporters of the Northern Colorado running scene. So thank you Altra RunningColorado Physical Therapy SpecialistsJustin Liddle DMDCountryside Vet, Altitude Running, Sierra Trading Post, SmartwoolCornerstone MortgageFort Collins Running ClubGreat Harvest, Whole Foods, VFuel, Boulder Beer, Kristel Liddle LMT, and Mary’s Mountain Cookies.

The Blue Sky Marathon marks the end of the 2015 season for us at Gnar Runners, but we are already looking forward to bigger and better things for 2016. 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, or the Black Squirrel Half Marathon in September.

Thank you all again for a wonderful season. See you in 2016!

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2015 Blue Sky Marathon Pre Race Details

The eighth running of the Blue Sky Marathon is just a couple of days away. We hope your training has gone well and that you are fit and ready to race! All information relevant to the event is available from the race website here.

We would like to bring your attention to a few key details:

The weather forecast for Sunday is showing an overnight low in the mid 40s, a daytime high in the low 60s with a slight chance of rain early morning: just about perfect.

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.
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.

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 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, black bean burgers, Whole Foods quinoa salad, Mary’s Mountain Cookies, Great Harvest cinnamon buns, Boulder Beer, and soft drinks.

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, Altra running shoes for overall winners and a smorgasbord of sponsor gear to give away in the post-awards raffle.

Whole Foods is also giving away $100 in groceries to one lucky Blue Sky Marathoner after the race. Follow this link to enter: http://woobox.com/6gx5f8

Massage and PT work will be available after the race courtesy of Kristel Liddle LMT (massage) and Colorado Physical Therapy Specialists.

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

Altra Running, Colorado Physical Specialists, Justin Liddle DMD, The Hunter Team at Cornerstone Home Lending, Altitude Running, Countryside Animal Hospital, Sierra Trading Post, and the Fort Collins Running Club.

Thank you also to all our wonderful product supporters. Please consider supporting these businesses who support our race:

http://www.blueskymarathon.com/sponsors/

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!

Nick Clark & Pete Stevenson
racedirector@gnarrunners.com
Gnar Runners, LLC

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2015 Gnar Race Calendar

At the end of the 2014 season, we promised bigger and better things for 2015 and we
plan on delivering. Here’s what we’ve got in store for the 2015 Gnar Runners’ Race Series, Presented by Altra:

Gnar_man Altra Zero Drop
  • May 9, 2015: Quad Rock 25 & 50 Mile Trail Races
    – Race Cap: 350 total runners
    – 50 Mile Early Entry: $85 (same bargain pricing as the very first year).
    – Location: Lory State Park & Horsetooth Mountain Park, Fort Collins, CO
  • July 25, 2015: Never Summer 100km
    – Race Cap: 200 runners
    – Early Entry Fee: $140
    – Location: State Forest State Park, Gould CO near Cameron Pass
    – Stoke Levels: Through the Roof
  • September 5, 2015: Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon
    – Race Cap: 300 runners
    – Early Entry Fee: $50
    – Location: Lory State Park, Fort Collins, CO
  • October 4, 2015: Blue Sky Trail Marathon
    – Race Cap: 275 runners
    – Early Entry Fee: $60
    – Location: Horsetooth Mountain Park, Fort Collins Co

What’s New for 2015?

First and foremost, we are extremely excited to be adding the Never Summer 100km RidgeRunto the Gnar Runners’ race calendar. We’ve been scouting this area and working with local land managers for well over a year now, in an effort to bring you the most outstanding course possible in this beautiful corner of Northern Colorado. Nestled between Rocky Mountain National Park and the Rawah Wilderness in the Cameron Pass area, this mountain-getaway event provides a huge alpine tour of the incredible Never Summer and Medicine Bow Mountains. Don’t miss out!

Jack JewelAs 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-notch experiences that you’ve come to expect. We have 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 $60, while extending the cut-off to nine hours. We really, really want you to come check out the fantastic Blue Sky trail this fall!

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 local and regional sponsors that share our vision for affordable, top-shelf events. This year we are incredibly excited to be working with Utah-based Altra Running as the Presenting Sponsor for the whole series. We’ll be working with our retail partner Altitude Running at training runs and on race-day to get you in a pair of Altra shoes to try out, if you’re not already familiar with the benefits of zero-drop running and Altra’s unique foot shaped toe box.

Other series sponsors for the 2015 season include the following great local businesses, with more to come:

The Hunter Team - Cornerstone Home Lending
Justin K. Liddle DMD, LLC Countryside 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. I don’t think your excitement levels for the 2015 season could be quite as elevated as ours, but we sure hope they’re close.

Be Gnarful out there!

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Injury Prevention Advice from Colorado Physical Therapy Specialists

This article from our top Blue Sky Marathon and Black Squirrel Half Marathon sponsor, Colorado Physical Therapy Specialists, discusses the key stabilizing muscles for runners and what you can do to strengthen them to help decrease your chance of injury.

Runners commonly suffer from overuse injuries such as knee pain (“runner’s knee”, IT band syndrome, patellar tendinitis), achilles tendinitis, and plantar fasciitis. Despite the variety of injuries that afflict runners, there are a few simple things you can do to reduce your risk and keep your running pain free.

Some of you may already be doing core exercises to help with your running. The back and abdominal muscles commonly strengthened with core exercises are an integral part of any run-strengthening program. However, ensuring adequate strength of the hip abductor and hip external rotator muscles are frequently overlooked. These hip muscles are important for stabilizing your knee each time your foot hits the ground. Too much movement of the knee can result in pain under and around the knee cap, or pain in the IT band or patellar tendon.

The hip abductors and external rotators are also needed for controlling excessive foot pronation (foot rolling inward). Contrary to popular belief, foot pronation is not a bad thing. It is important to assist with shock absorption when your foot hits the ground. However, too much pronation may be a contributing factor to overuse running injuries. Excessive pronation can be controlled by orthotics or a motion controlled/stability shoe. It can also be controlled by strengthening the hip abductors and external rotators as well as muscles of the foot and ankle. If the excessive movement can be controlled by strengthening these muscles, it generally makes more sense to help our body do what it was designed to do and strengthen the muscles as opposed to using an external support.

As you can see, weakness in the hip muscles will result in decreased stability in the hip, knee, ankle and foot. In addition to good strength, you must also have good control. Think of good control like a complex engine that constantly makes minor adjustments to function at peak performance. When your foot strikes the ground, your hip muscles must quickly contract to control your leg motion without you thinking about it. A loss of control can set you up for a multitude of overuse injuries. The good news is you can dramatically reduce your risk of injury by improving your hip muscle strength and control.

So how do you know if you have weakness or poor control of these hip muscles? Performing a single leg mini squat is a simple test that you can do to give you an idea of how much hip control you have.

The following video shows how to perform a single leg mini squat.

Good hip control is demonstrated by maintaining level hips and your knee moving directly over your foot without collapsing inward. If you do not have good control doing the single leg mini squat (a static exercise), you likely have less control with more dynamic exercises such as running.

Your physical therapist or personal trainer can help you determine the best exercises for your hip muscles. Visit ColPTs.com for an example of a good dynamic core and hip exercise to help you continue running injury free.

Drs. Tim Flynn and Terry Gebhardt are physical therapists and owners of Colorado Physical Therapy Specialists.

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