Elise McKnight Gnar Slammer

Elise McKnight is a nurse from Fort Collins, CO. She finished her first 50 miler this winter in Antelope Canyon and plans to take on the Gnar Slam this summer.

The Never Summer 100k will be Elise’s longest run ever, and we’re excited to follow along as she attempts to become our first ever female Slammer. Check out which race she fears the most and the one she’s most looking forward to.

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David Boyd Gnar Slammer

David Boyd is a nurse and avid runner from Fort Collins, CO. To date, the longest he has raced is 50 kilometers. Last weekend, he kicked off his 2017 season with an impressive sixth place finish at the Salida Marathon. Next up is the Quad Rock 50 and the start of the 2017 Gnar Slam.

We’ll be following Dave all summer as he works his way through the series. Can he put pressure on Elijah Flenner’s record from 2016? We’re looking forward to finding out!

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Vince Vigil Gnar Slammer

This summer, we’re going to follow four runners on their quest to finish the Gnar Slam. To earn the title of Gnar Slammer, our runners will need to complete the Quad Rock 50, the Never Summer 100km, the Black Squirrel Half Marathon, and the Blue Sky Marathon under the races’ respective cut-offs.

All four are relatively new to ultrarunning and one – Vince Vigil – has never raced longer than the half marathon distance. We’ll be introducing our Gnar Slammers over the next two weeks as we get ready for the Quad Rock preview run on April 1.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Vince Vigil, a self-described “old fat guy” who’s “gonna try and run the Gnar Slam.”

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News and Dates for the 2017 Gnar Race Season

The fall permitting season has been a busy one for us here at Gnar Runners headquarters, with more than a few twists and turns to keep us on our toes. But the pieces are now in place and we’re ready to announce our dates and news for the 2017 season, which we’ll once again be hosting with the generous support of our top brand sponsor, Salomon Running.

Gnar_manSalomon

Registration for all Gnar Trail Races opens on December 15th, 2016.

Dates for the 2017 Trail Races

  • May 13, 2017: Quad Rock 25 & 50 Mile Trail RacesFallsDescent_QuadRock
    – New This Year: Cap increase to 400 starters
    – 50 Mile Early Entry: $85 (same bargain pricing as our very first year in 2012).
    – Location: Lory State Park, Fort Collins, CO
  • July 22, 2017: Never Summer 100km
    – New This Year: Cap increase to 350 starters
    – Early Entry Fee: $175
    – Location: State Forest State Park, Gould CO
  • September 9, 2017: Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon
    – Race Cap: 300 runners
    – Early Entry Fee: $60
    – Location: Lory State Park, Fort Collins, CO
    – New This Year: All-new picnic area and beefed-up after party
  • October 21, 2017: Blue Sky Trail Marathon
    – Race Cap: 275 runners
    – Early Entry Fee: $65
    – Location: Horsetooth Mountain Park, Fort Collins Co
    – New This Year: Date pushed back 3 weeks to improve parking logistics

NeverSummer2015-305-XL-SoGood2016 Never Summer 100K

What’s New for 2017?

  • In 2016, we experimented with separate start times for the 25 and 50 mile Quad Rock Trail Races and things worked out well, so we’ll be continuing that format for 2017. The 50 miler will start as always with first light at 5:30, while the 25 mile race will start at 8:00. We implemented this change for a number of logistical reasons, but most importantly we wanted to create a larger and more social post-race BBQ. It’s that community vibe that makes trail and ultra running so special, so bring a chair and hang out for a while! 
  • 2018 Western States Qualifier

    The Never Summer 100km will be a 2018 Western States 100 Qualifying Race.

    In partnership with our permitting agencies, we have negotiated cap increases for both Quad Rock and the Never Summer 100km. Both races have been sellouts from their opening years, so we’ve worked hard to figure out ways to build capacity and meet demand, while doing it in a sustainable manner. The cap for Quad Rock across both races has been increased to 400 starters and for Never Summer to 350. These caps are as high as we are comfortable raising them so they will remain in effect moving forward.

  • Aside from the cap increase, much will remain the same for the third running of the Never Summer 100km. We are working hard to improve a number of behind-the-scenes logistical pieces, but the most significant changes from a runner/crew perspective will be the relocation of the Diamond Peaks aid station from the Highway 14 pullout down course to the Lake Agnes Rd. In addition, we have worked with our start/finish hosts at the Gould Community Center to significantly expand and improve the parking areas and will be offering a limited number of car camping spots on site.
  • We’re ‘formalizing’ the Gnar Slam with an end-of-season award and a free entry into the 2018 Quad Rock Trail Races for all finishers. To be eligible for the award and free 2018 Quad Rock entry, participants must complete the Quad Rock 50, Never Summer 100km, Black Squirrel Trail Half, and Blue Sky Marathon. To date we have had just four finishers – all male – with Elijah Flenner (2016) our fastest Slammer. Who’ll take on the challenge in 2017? And who’ll be our first female finishers? Click here for more details.  
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Elijah’s 2016 Slam Award Haul

We continue to do roads too!

The Fort Collins Running Club has extended our contract to manage the 44th running of the Horsetooth Half Marathon in April 2017. If you’re looking for an early spring road event that offers something a little more challenging than the road norm, then consider taking the journey from the Holiday Twin Drive In to New Belgium Brewery by way of the challenging hills of the easternmost hogbacks of the Northern Colorado Rockies. The beer and music at the finish will be flowing and rocking until the last person leaves, so if you’re looking for a spring sharpener we suggest you look no further.

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Snow

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…or shine, the show goes on.

Value for Money

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 some of the best value in Colorado ultrarunning. And, as always, at all Gnar events you can expect:

  • Hot food and cold beer after your run
  • A fantastic post-race vibe
  • Great courses on well-marked trails
  • Unique awards
  • Great swag giveaways
  • High quality event t-shirts
  • (Free) on-course training opportunities leading up to each event

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 again with Salomon Running, one of the greatest brand innovators in the sport.

Altitude Running Logo - 2012 FinalWe’ll be offering special Salomon shoe deals with our retail partners 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.

Our other top sponsors for the 2017 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 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.

We’re incredibly excited for the 2017 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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Never Summer 2016 Post Race Wrap

View from Lake Agnes - 2016 Never Summer 100K

Moon above Lake Agnes. (Photo: Erin Bibeau)

Congratulations to all runners who took on the second running of the Never Summer 100km. The goal of the event is to offer a challenging mountain adventure, connecting stunning mountain and lake vistas across a wide range of mountain terrain. And it sounds like adventure was had by all. Reports of bears, moose, and dive-bombing raptors were all overheard in the Gould Community Center post-race. This of course came in addition to the significant challenge of navigating the 64 mile tour of the rugged Never Summer and Medicine Bow Mountains.

Nokhu Crags - 2016 Never Summer 100K

Close up view of the Nokhu Crags from the Never Summer 100K course at Lake Agnes. (Photo: Erin Bibeau)

When it was all said and done, 192 of our 273 starters made it back to the Gould Community Center before the 5:30am cutoff – a 70% finisher rate. Of those, 24 joined the Sunset Club by making it home without the use of a headlamp (15.5 hours).

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

With this being just the second running of the event, many new overall and age group standards were set. In the men’s race, Gabe Joyes from Lander, WY took home top honors in a new course record time of 12:29:21. In an exciting finish, he was followed just a minute later by defending Wasatch 100 champion, Chris Schurk, who’d been nipping at Gabe’s heels from the start of the final climb. Rounding out the men’s podium was Jeff Mogavero (12:51:13), currently also calling Lander home.

Gabe Joyes at Lake Agnes - 2016 Never Summer 100K

Gabe Joyes at Lake Agnes on his way to the win. (Photo: Erin Bibeau)

Alyson Kirk on Montgomery Ridge - 2016 Never Summer 100K

Alyson Kirk coming off Montgomery Ridge on her way to defending.

In the women’s race, defending champion Alyson Kirk bettered her 2015 time to come home with a second Never Summer 100km title (15:46:43). As last year, Alyson (a peak-bagging dynamo) took control of the race heading up the steepest climb of the day on North Diamond Peak. Nederland resident Keira McMahaon (16:18:57) finished a strong second behind Alyson, and she was followed some 7 minutes later by the ageless Cindy Stonesmith (16:25:51).

We saw new records go down in not only the overall categories, but also many of the age groups. The master’s categories (40-49) were won by Elijah Flenner and Sandra Carpenter. As he did at Quad Rock earlier in the summer, Elijah set a new course record in the masters division, posting an impressive 13:16:47, while Sandra also built on her Quad Rock master’s-record-setting run from May with an impressive sub-17 hour finish (16:56:04). Although officially listed as a podium finisher in the overall standings, Keira McMahon’s time of 16:18:57 sets the new standard for the master’s age group.

In the grandmasters division (50+), it was Marianne Osteen who took home top honors in a time of 20:51:57. As in the master’s category it was podium finisher Cindy Stonesmith setting the new grandmaster’s mark (16:25:51). For the men, it came down to the wire, with Stephen Kukta (16:38:01) from Olympic Valley, CA running down Nebraska’s Todd Nott in the final two miles. Todd’s time and grandmaster’s record from 2015 (15:54:36) was the only mark to remain standing at the end of the day.

Cindy Stonesmith at Lake Agnes - 2016 Never Summer 100K

Cindy Stonesmith. Third overall and a new grandmaster’s CR. (Photo: Erin Bibeau)

Stephen Kukta at Lake Agnes - 2016 Never Summer 100K

Stephen Kukta on his way to the grandmaster’s win. (Photo: Erin Bibeau)

In recognition of the challenge that the course presents to all runners, we also award a Final Finisher award for the runner that shows the most dogged persistence in being out there the longest. And a new record was set in that division, with Eve Davies from Salt Lake City besting Lynn Hall’s 23:49:14 from 2015 by some four minutes (23:53:51).

Michigan Ditch - 2016 Never Summer 100K

Runners exit Lake Agnes down the Michigan Ditch drainage. (Photo: Erin Bibeau)

Results are available here, with full aid station splits on their way.

Bockman

Bockman Aid Station (Photo: Eric Lee)

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. 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 parks staff.
  • The Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol for offering up a team of skilled volunteers with first responder training and an intimate knowledge of the Never Summer and Medicine Bow Mountains.
  • 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 welcome and 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 Drymax Socks
Colorado In Motion Physical Therapy Altitude Running Justin Liddle DMD Prosthodontist

Contributing support from:
Countryside Animal Hospital Fort Collins Running Club

Generous product support from:
VFuel, New Belgium, Mary’s Mountain Cookies, Julbo, Trader Joe’s, Ultimate Direction, Squirrel’s Nut Butter, RAD, and the Great Harvest Bread Company,

For more images from the day, please visit Erin Bibeau Photography. Digital images are available for download starting at 99 cents and print options are available too.

We look forward to seeing you again in 2017 at the same place and approximately the same time. Or even better, we’d love to see you later in the summer at one of our shorter events. On September 10 we’ll be hosting the fourth running of the Black Squirrel Half Marathon in Lory State Park, followed October 2 by the ninth running of the Blue Sky Marathon, Fort Collins original and only Trail Marathon.

Thank you all!

Clear Lake - 2016 Never Summer 100K

A runner takes a short break at Clear Lake. (Photo: Jessie Wiburn)

Bockman at night - 2016 Never Summer 100K

Bockman Aid Station at night. (Photo: Eric Lee)

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