Registration Open for Blue Sky Marathon & Black Squirrel Half

Gnar Runners Events is pleased to announce that registration has opened for both the Blue Sky Marathon (click to register) and a new trail race, the Black Squirrel Half Marathon.

Management of the Blue Sky Marathon, now in its sixth year, has been transferred from Blue Sky Events to Gnar Runners, but the original mission remains: to raise funds for running- and outdoor-related beneficiaries, and to put on a race that showcases local Fort Collins trails and appeals to a broad section of the running community. For 2013, the race has received approval from Larimer County to expand the field to 275 runners. We have added an extra hour to the race cut-off, now eight hours, to give a broader range of runners adequate time to finish.

The new Black Squirrel Half Marathon will begin and end at Soldier Canyon in Lory State Park on August 31, and like the Blue Sky Marathon is designed to appeal to new and experienced trail runners alike. The course is a fun, single loop around the park, and like all Gnar Runner events will conclude with a post-race BBQ.  Registration will be capped at 350 runners.

A discount is available for the Blue Sky and Black Squirrel races for those who register for both at the same time. The early-bird registration fee for the Black and Blue Double is just $99.

We are especially pleased to announce that Colorado Physical Therapy Specialists is backing the Black and Blue Double as the top sponsor, and will be onsite after both races.

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14 Hour Quad Rock Pacing Plan

In the past few weeks, we’ve heard from several runners worrying over the 14 hour course cut-off for the full 50 mile race. To make sure that the cut-off times are fair and accurate for a 14-hour finish, I (Pete) went out and ran the full 50 miles myself last month. As a result, we’ve decided to extend the mid-race cut-offs at Arthur’s Rock (Mile 32.4) to 1:40pm and Horsetooth (Mile 39.6) to 4:10pm.

I ran the course in the middle of a very high volume block of training on very, very tired legs so my pace for the day was much slower than my normal training pace and significantly slower than what I would have run fully tapered and rested for a race. I also didn’t have the extra benefit of aid stations with more frequent water refills and volunteer help. I jogged the easy sections and downhills and hiked every steep uphill on the course and finished the full course in 12 hours and 24 minutes. For runners who normally finish toward the back of races and close to course cut-offs, the 14 hour race cut-off for the 50 mile event will be tight but not an unreasonable goal.

Based on my 50 mile pace, I’ve estimated the following splits for a 14 hour finish time:

Aid Station Mile
Leg
Distance
Aid
Station
Time
Leg
Time
Leg
Pace
Total
Time
Arthur’s
2.2
2.2
None
0:27
12:16
0:27
Towers
7.2
5.0
3:00
1:20
16:00
1:50
Horsetooth
10.4
3.2
5:00
0:40
12:30
2:35
Towers
14.2
3.8
3:00
1:00
15:47
3:38
Arthur’s
17.6
3.4
5:00
0:43
12:39
4:26
Soldier
25
7.4
10:00
1:55
15:32
6:31
Arthur’s
32.4
7.4
5:00
1:55
15:32
8:31
Towers
35.8
3.4
3:00
1:15
22:04
9:49
Horsetooth
39.6
3.8
10:00
1:05
17:06
11:04
Towers
42.8
3.2
4:00
1:10
21:53
12:18
Arthur’s
47.8
5.0
2:00
1:10
14:00
13:30
Finish
50
2.2
0:27
12:16
13:57
Total
50:00
13:07
15:44
13:57

The pacing splits for each section should be fairly accurate based on my own actual running time on the course. This pacing plan includes a very generous amount of aid station time which I think most experienced runners can significantly reduce. While 3-5 minutes at an aid stop doesn’t sound like much, if you know what you need ahead of time you can be moving through aid stations in under 2 minutes with the help of volunteers to fill your bottles or pack/grab whatever snacks you need from the table.

I’ve included very generous 10 minute stops at the 25 mile turn around and the last stop at the Horsetooth aid station. At this point in the race, you may need to pick up extra backup fuel from your drop bags and/or change clothing layers depending on the weather. I highly suggest minimizing your time at the mile 25 stop and mentally preparing yourself to get in and out and on the trail for the climb back up to Arthur’s Rock. The section from mile 25 to the Towers aid station at mile 35.8 is the toughest of the course both mentally and physically. But trust me, if you stick it out and get yourself past the Mill Creek climb and into the home stretch, you’ll be rewarded with a very enjoyable and satisfying cruise to the finish.

Aside from minimizing aid station time, you just need to keep moving efficiently. As long as you’re hiking the uphills, you’re making progress. Make sure that you maintain focus and run every downhill and flat section. The course doesn’t have many flat miles but there are a lot of long switchbacks and traverses that are easily runnable if you stay focused and take advantage of them.

If anyone has any questions about the course or pacing strategy, feel free to email me directly at pete@gnarrunners.com. This is a tough course and not everyone will be able to finish the full 50 miles, but we want to make sure that we give everyone the support and information they need to have the best chance at success.

Pete

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