2019 Blue Sky Marathon Pre-Race Information

The 12th running of the Blue Sky Trail Marathon is this Saturday. We hope that your training has been on point and that you’re ready for a strong run. 

All information relevant to the event is available from the race website. In addition, we’d like to bring your attention to a few key details.

Registration is still open! As of right now, a couple dozen spots are available. If those are not claimed by the close of online registration tonight, we will offer late registration at Packet Pickup.

The weather forecast through the rest of the week and into Saturday looks fantastic with daytime highs in the low 60s. However be aware that the Blue Sky course is very exposed over the last 18 miles and even in the low 60s the trail can get toasty under full sun, 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. Altitude Running is located at 150 E Harmony Rd on the northeast corner of College and Harmony.

Packet and bib pickup will also be available on race morning at the Blue Sky trailhead from 5:30am to 6:45am.

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 Inlet Bay 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 available at the pullout on Shoreline Drive by the fire station 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.

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. Bib numbers are being checked for both aid station split data and, more importantly, runner safety.

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 enough 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, to capture split data and also for runner safety.

Please pocket any trash and dispose of it at aid stations or at the start/finish.

Dogs are welcome on leash with family and friends at the start/finish area, but we ask that you not run with your dog during the race.

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 Cookies and New Belgium beer. 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 Athletes in Tandem.

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 2019 Gnar Slam finishers. 

PT work will be available after the race courtesy of race sponsors Colorado in Motion, with massage offered by Diane Bergstedt and foot care advice from UltraPodiatrist Dr. Mike. We will also have Salomon Running on hand showcasing their latest trail lineup, with an opportunity to enter a raffle for a free pair of shoes.

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

Salomon RunningColorado in MotionJustin Liddle DMDAltitude RunningCountryside Animal Hospital, Skratch Labs 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 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

Altitude Running

Race Support

Countryside Animal Hospital
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A Recap of the 2019 Never Summer 100km

Seven Utes looking south to Rocky Mountain National Park and the Never Summer Range. Photo: Jeff Black

The fifth running of the Never Summer 100km was another one for the record books. Once again we saw a new course record in the men’s race (as we have at every running of the race), in addition to a number of age-group records. And not only did we have a full field of runners, but we’re also pretty sure we had a record number of volunteers who again came out en masse to help competitors reach their goals. Congratulations runners and thank you volunteers

The weather is always a potential factor through the course of a high altitude mountain race, and while welcome cool temperatures prevailed for most of the day at this fifth running of the race, intense afternoon thunderstorms produced hail and heavy rains. The moisture made for challenging conditions for all runners both in terms of regulating body temperatures and also in negotiating particularly muddy late-race trails, factors that lead to one of our lowest ever finisher rates. Whether you finished or not, we would like to offer a hearty congratulations to all runners that got out there and braved the elements.

When it was all said and done, 220 (165 men, 55 women) of the race’s 318 starters (231 men, 87 women) beat the race’s cut-offs and the adverse weather conditions to make it back to the Gould Community Center within 24 hours. This represents a 69 percent finisher rate (71 percent men, 63 percent women). Of those finishers, 28 joined – or renewed their membership in – the Sunset Club by making it home without the use of a headlamp (15.5 hours). This includes three new female inductees – Sabrina Stanley, Megan Arauzo, and Amber Pougiales – who join Alyson Kirk, Heidi Sauerland, Addie Bracy, Clare Gallagher and Kristi Knecht in the exclusive club. And one runner, Danny Bundrock, made it five for five with his 13:38 ninth place finish.

Danny Bundrock batting .1000 after five years of the Never Summer 100km. Pic: Terry Grenwelge

But of course, no matter how far along the course you got, or indeed at what time you finished, we sincerely hope you enjoyed your experience in the beautiful mountains of Northern Colorado.

Runners Traversing from North Diamond, the race high point, on their way to the Montgomery Aid Station. Photo: Eric Lee

Race Results

Race Photos


Hannes Gehring above Kelly Lake on his way to the win and new course record. Pic: Terry Grenwelge
Sabrina Stanley enjoying the early miles around Lake Agnes on her way to winning the 2019 women’s race. Pic: Terry Grenwelge

In the men’s race Hannes Gehring from Denver took home top honors, becoming only the second runner to finish in under 12 hours, setting a new course record (by 40 seconds) of 11:47:06 in the process. He was followed home by Seth Wealing (12:07:57) from Boulder, CO who posted the race’s third fastest time ever, in addition to a new master’s record. And rounding out the men’s podium was Mathew Urbanski, also from Boulder, who came home in 13:02:10.

In the women’s race, Hardrock 100 champ Sabrina Stanley led from pillar to post in running the race’s second fastest time ever in the women’s division (13:46:47), while finishing fifth in the overall 2019 field. She was followed home almost an hour later by Megan Arauzo (14:45:07) from Nevato, CA, with Denver’s Amber Pougiales (15:22:22) rounding out the women’s podium. Megan and Amber recorded the race’s fifth and eighth fastest finishes ever.

A fast year all around!

Tara Carter on her way to Clear Lake and a new masters record. Pic: Terry Grenwelge

As noted above, the men’s master’s record was convincingly reset by second-place finisher Seth Wealing. And we also saw a new record on the women’s side. Tara Carter followed up on her master’s record-setting run from Quad Rock in May with a Never Summer run for the record books (16:07:57) as she continued her quest towards completing the 2019 Gnar Slam.

Seth Wealing cruising Lake Agnes on his way to a second place finish and new masters record. Pic: Terry Grenwelge

In the grandmasters division (50+), it was California’s Daniel Kono who took home top honors in a time of 14:41:16. Daniel’s time was also good for a new division record, especially impressive coming from sea level. For the women, it was Prescott, AZ’s Carol Northrup bringing home the grandmaster’s hardware in a time of 21:35:52. 

In recognition of the challenge that the course presents to all runners, we also give out a Final Finisher award for the runner that shows the most dogged persistence in being out there the longest. We were delighted to be able to hand off that award to Denver’s Rachel Meier who beat the 24-hour buzzer by just under 10 minutes. 

We also like to make sure that we recognize our volunteers appropriately at the post-race breakfast awards ceremony by giving out the Never Summer Trail Boss award. While this award is given to one person who has shown particular dedication to the race, it is offered in the spirit of a broader recognition of the whole volunteer team who come together before, during and after the race. This year, we were honored to recognize Gnar Team member Elijah Flenner as our 2019 Trail Boss for his services clearing trail, hauling gear up and down the canyon for weeks prior to the race, staffing the Montgomery aid station, course marking and leading numerous training runs on the course in the lead up to the race.

As always, the volunteer support that we received for the event was – quite frankly – outstanding, and testimony to the special place the mountains of Northern Colorado hold in the hearts of the local outdoors community. Thanks to each and every one of you.

Canadian Aid Station Captain, Cindy Stonesmith, getting in some 20lb curls while Getting Stuff Done. Pic: Eric Lee
Canadian Aid at dusk. Pic: Jeff Black
Search and Rescue and radio communications at the race high point. Pic: Jeff Black

And a special thank you to:

  • The Northern Colorado Amateur Radio Club and their team of ham radio operators all of whom went above and beyond in ensuring that we had radio contact from every aid station on course, in addition to between medical and park staff.
  • State Forest State Park (SFSP) and their incredible staff of park rangers. We have received nothing but enthusiasm from SFSP in the years of planning and executing this event, and their professionalism on race weekend was second to none.
  • The Fort Collins Trail Runners. Though completely informal in affiliation, this group of trail running enthusiasts has been the backbone of the Gnar Runners operation from its inception. A continued Thank You to you all.
  • Poudre Valley Hospital’s team of medical professionals for going above and beyond in coordinating our emergency medical plans.
  • The Gould Community Association for their support and the use of the Gould Community Center.

And to our amazing sponsors, thank you!

Top tier support from:

Salomon
Colorado In Motion Physical Therapy
Altitude Running
Justin Liddle DMD Prosthodontist
Countryside Animal Hospital
Fort Collins Running Club

Generous product support from:
VFuelNew BelgiumMary’s Mountain Cookies, and the Great Harvest Bread Company.

We look forward to seeing you again in 2020. We’d also love to see you later in the year at one of our shorter events. On September 7 we’ll be hosting the seventh running of the Black Squirrel Half Marathon in Lory State Park, followed October 19 by the 12th running of the Blue Sky Marathon, Fort Collins original and only Trail Marathon.

And remember, if you finish all four events in the calendar year you become a Gnar Slammer and receive an end-of-season award in addition to free entry into the 2020 Quad Rock 25 or 50 mile race. We will be updating our Gnar Slam page this week, with a list of all those in contention for the 2019 Slam. 

Thank you all!

Jeff Black
Jeff Black
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2018 Black Squirrel Half Marathon Pre-race Details

All information relevant to the 6th running of the Black Squirrel Half Marathon is available on the race website. Here are a few final details and reminders.

The current weather forecast is showing a race-day high in the mid 80s. Please make sure you have adequate carrying capacity for your hydration needs between aid stations. Water cups will not be provided at the aid stations.

The three race aid stations will be stocked with water and V-Fuel sports drink. The Arthur’s aid station – visited twice – will also carry snacks and fruit.

Packet pickup will be available on Friday afternoon from 4pm to 7pm at Altitude Running located at 150 E Harmony Rd., Fort Collins, CO 80525 (northeast corner of College and Harmony). We will be distributing bib numbers, race T-shirts, Squirrels Nut Butter samples, Justin Liddle DMD toothbrushes, and will have additional Gnar Runners and Black Squirrel merchandise for sale. 

Packet pickup will also be available on race morning from 5:15am to 6:30am.

The race will start promptly at 7:00am. There will be a short pre-race briefing at 6:50am.

Late arrivals will need to walk up to a mile to the start from the overflow parking at the Eltuck Picnic area, so we recommend getting to Lory State Park no later than 6:00am if you need to check in on race morning.

Parking at the Soldier Canyon start/finish area (limited to 50-60 cars) is reserved for carpools of two or more runners. All other cars will be directed to park on the Lodgepole loop road or at the Timber trailhead lot. If you can, please arrange a carpool with friends – or try the Fort Collins Trail Runner Facebook page

Parking passes will be handed out at the park entrance when you arrive.

Bibs must be visible from the front. Please do not remove your pull tag.

Dogs are welcome on leash with family and friends at the start/finish area, but we ask that you not run with your dog during the race.

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 and hikers.

We will have a free 1 mile kids race/run beginning at 10:30 from the start/finish area.

After your finish, stick around for our post race party and Great Harvest pancake breakfast. In addition to fruit, soft drinks and other trimmings, we’ll have cookies from Mary’s Mountain Cookies and Fat Tire beer (3.2) from New Belgium Brewing.

Additional post-race food and beer for family and friends can be purchased for a $10 cash donation to our post-race beneficiary, the CSU Food & Nutrition Club, if not already purchased with registration.

For post-run entertainment, the Swashbuckling Doctors will be serving up their unique brand of Fort Collins Ska.

Salomon Running will be demoing shoes for runners to try out after the race, and we’ll be giving away Salomon packs to our top male and female finishers.

All finishers will receive a commemorative pint glass. And we’ll be giving out unique overall and age group awards to the top three finishers (male and female) in the following categories: overall, under 30, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59 and 60+. We’ll also have sponsor gear and goodies to raffle off during and after the awards.

Massage and PT work will be available after the race courtesy of Colorado in Motion, Diane Bergstedt and Kristel Liddle.

Thank you to our very generous top sponsors: Salomon Running, Colorado in Motion, Justin Liddle DMD, Drymax SocksAltitude Running, Countryside Animal Hospital, JAX Mercantile, and the Fort Collins Running Club for their support in helping make this event possible.

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

If you have questions that are not answered here or on the website, then please email us at racedirector@gnarrunners.com. We will do our level best to respond in a timely manner.

We 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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Join us for an evening of trail talk 8/23 at Altitude Running

Do you have questions about trail running or want to learn more about the sport? Join us for a fun night of trail running discussion on August 23rd at Altitude Running. The evening will feature a Q&A discussion with a diverse panel of trail runners, beginning at 6:00pm.

The panel Q&A will be mixed in with gear giveaways from Salomon Running, Drymax Socks and other race sponsors. We will also be featuring a Black Squirrel video course preview, with time afterwards for questions and discussion specific to the route and race strategy. During the evening, enjoy a beverage or two from our friends at New Belgium Brewing. 

The panel

Cat Bradley 2017 Western States ChampionCat Bradley shot to trail and ultrarunning stardom this June when she defied the odds in winning the famed and historic Western States Endurance Run. Hear her thoughts from that day and garner tips on how to improve your race performance. 

 

Lucas Mouttet owns and operates the Never Summer Outdoor School, teaching avalanche safety and wilderness first aid. A trail runner, mountain biker and backcountry skier, Lucas is uniquely qualified to discuss any and all issues related to trail safety. 

 

Sara Callor is the store manager at Altitude Running. She ran the Pikes Peak Ascent as her first trail race some 10 years ago and returned to the trails last year to run the Black Squirrel Half. Come armed with gear questions. Sara has answers. 

 

 

Stephen PretakStephen Pretak is the current men’s champion and only person to have run under 90 minutes on the Black Squirrel course. Despite these impressive accolades, Stephen is still relatively new to trail running and sometimes feels like he’s still trying to figure it out. You’ve got questions about transitioning to the trails, he’ll come up with answers.

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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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