A Roundup from the 5th Running of the Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon

Lory State Park offers some of the best trail running on Colorado’s Northern Front Range, so it was once again our great honor to be able to host a tour of the perimeter trails at the fifth running of the Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon. And, with a beautiful sunrise popping up over the eastern shores of Horsetooth Reservoir, a record 330 runners set off on the 13.1 mile tour of Lory State Park on Saturday morning.

In the men’s race, defending champion Stephen Pretak had a good group of runners to work with as he entered the Timber climb, one mile into the race, but by the time he popped out onto the Arthurs Trail at the bottom of the Howard descent some 7 miles later, he was all alone off the front. Pretak would go on to hold his position and notch a second consecutive race win in 1:35:48. In a close battle for second, Pretak was followed home by an exuberant Peter Goble (1:39:23) with Craig Depperschmidt less than 30 seconds back in third (1:39:51).   

Two-time winner, Amanda Lee, was a late drop from the women’s field, leaving the race for top honors wide open. Local road running favorite Abby Depperschimdt took to the trails for her first go at the Black Squirrel Half and never looked back, winning the race in a time of 1:52:47. Abby finished a convincing seven minutes ahead of Sarah Omann (2:00:37) who notched her third second-place finish in as many attempts. Rounding out the women’s podium was Loveland’s Stephanie Forrest-Swedenborg in a time of 2:03:00.


Abby Depperscmidt (photo: Danielle Clark); Stephen Pretak (Bryan Bibeau)

The race for the 40+ honors was a battle, as you might expect from our crowd of wily veteran race tacticians. The top three master’s runners in the male division went 8th, 10th and 12th respectively with a good amount of in-race position shifting according to the post-race banter. Ultimately it would be Colorado Spring’s Bryan Beiner bringing home the master’s title in a time of 1:44:33. He was followed into the finish by Mike Neal (1:45:42) and Dan Clark (1:46:21) who, incidentally, went one and two in the master’s race at April’s Horsetooth Half Marathon (where Clark bettered Neal by just six seconds).  

In the female 40+ division, we had a repeat winner in the form of Fort Collins’ Catherine Thomas Broom who, on a much warmer day, finished six minutes faster than in 2016 (2:04:57). Rounding out the women’s 40+ division was Steamboat Spring’s Kristi Foster (2:09:53) and Bellvue’s very own Sarah Melby (2:16:24), both of whom we should mention have been enthusiastic volunteers at our races for many years. 


Bryan Beiner, Catherine Thomas Broome, Kristi Foster

Our youngest finisher this year was Omaha’s (and CSU’s) Malik Abdessalam at a very mature 18 years of age. On the other end of the age spread, we had two impressive 68 year-old finishes from Mary Gilbert (another stalwart race volunteer) and Steve Joyce. 

Prizes for overall and age group winners included Salomon running shoes and packs, Altitude gift certificates and Drymax running socks. And, of course, the coveted Black Squirrel awards lovingly crafted in the Gnar Runners Gnarts and Crafts Department.

Of course, these races don’t happen without the help of an army of volunteers. The Liberty Middle School XC Team was out at our Arthur’s aid stations, the CSU Food & Nutrution Club served up our post race pancake breakfast, and as always, the Fort Collins Trail Runners community came out in force. Our volunteers shone bright and provided a wonderful race experience for all participants.   So, once again, a huge thank you to all our fantastic volunteers. We couldn’t do it without you.

The Liberty Middle School XC Team reporting in for Arthurs Aid Station duty. The race will make a donation to Athlete’s in Tandem on their behalf in return for their time. Pic: Danielle Clark

We also couldn’t do what we do without the help of our wonderful sponsors, all of whom are tireless supporters of the Northern Colorado running scene. Thank you to our top tier sponsors: Salomon RunningAltitude RunningColorado in MotionDrymax Socks, and Justin Liddle DMD.

If you enjoyed Black Squirrel and are considering a step up in distance, why not join us on October 21 for the tenth running of the Blue Trail Sky Marathon. This local favorite will be our last event of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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:
VFuelNew BelgiumMary’s Mountain CookiesSquirrel’s Nut ButterGreat Harvest Bread Company, the Fort Collins Food Co-op, and Blue Phoenix Massage.

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Never Summer 2017 Post Race Wrap

North Diamond. Pic: Ben Barthel.

We’d like to offer a huge congratulations to all those runners who came together on Saturday July 22 to take on the third running of the Never Summer 100km. We love to see our finishers come across the finish line, so we were especially happy this year to be able to welcome home a record number of finishers. In helping get runners across the line, we owe a special debt of gratitude to our wonderful volunteers who came out en masse to help competitors reach their goals. Congratulations runners and thank you volunteers. 

When it was all said and done, 226 of the race’s 289 starters made it back to the Gould Community Center before the 5:30am cutoff. This represents a record 78 percent finisher rate. Of those finishers, 29 joined the Sunset Club by making it home without the use of a headlamp (15.5 hours). This includes our first two female members of the club, Alyson Kirk and Heidi Sauerland. We hope to see many more ladies join the club in the coming years.

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.


– Results with full aid station splits are available here.
– Race images: 


Heidi Sauerland finishing second. No headlamp required. Pic: Erin Bibeau

Alyson Kirk, now three-time winner. Pic: Erin Bibeau

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
In both the men’s and women’s races new overall records were set. For the men, Tyler Fox from Boulder, CO took home top honors in a new course best of 12:11:10. He was followed home by Clark Messman (12:28:14) who posted the race’s second fastest time ever. Rounding out the men’s podium was Estes Park’s Kevin Sturmer who came home in 12:58:57.

Rob Raguet-Schofield lets it fly and finishes sixth overall, first from Fort Collins. Pic: Erin Bibeau

Tyler Fox (right) and Clark Messman go 1 & 2 in CR fashion. Pic: Erin Bibeau

 

In the women’s race, two-time defending champion Alyson Kirk bettered her 2016 time by a whopping one hour and four minutes to come home with a third Never Summer 100km title in a new course record time of 14:42:23. Although Alyson led from start to finish, she was pushed the whole way by Steamboat Springs’ Heidi Sauerland who posted the race’s second fastest time ever (15:10:59). Moab resident Meghan Hicks was our third place finisher, recording the race’s fourth fastest time ever, coming home in 15:53:50.

A fast year all around.

Heather Jossi on her way to a masters win. Pic: Joey Schrichte

The master’s categories (40-49) were won by Jesse Rickert and Heather Jossi. Heather, a newly minted master’s runner and three-time finisher of the event, ran her fastest time yet in winning the master’s category, taking over 45 minutes off her best to finish in 17:27:19. Jesse Rickert came within three minutes of taking down Elijah Flenner’s 2016 master’s record, finishing in a speedy 13:19:34 to finish an impressive fourth overall.   

In the grandmasters division (50+), it was Junko Kazukawa who took home top honors in a time of 18:26:13. For the men, it was Fort Collins’ Steve Chaffee bringing home the grandmaster’s hardware in a time of 17:44:38. 

In the youngest and oldest categories, we had new records on both ends of the spectrum with Julian Cazares of Federal Heights CO finishing in 18:06:16 at the age of 20 and Joe Burleson of Erie, CO getting it done in 23:12:19 at the 67 years young.

 

Grandmasters winner Junko Kazukawa having fun at the American Lakes. Pic: Erin Bibeau

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 Michelle Leong, one of many who made trip north from the Lone Star state. Michelle beat the buzzer by 11 minutes in a time of 23:49:09. 

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 be able to recognize Bryan Bibeau as our 2017 Trail Boss for his dedication to race communications over the last three years. 

Bryan Bibeau (seated) heading up the event communications team. Pic: Erin Bibeau

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. 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.
  • 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 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.
  • The Teaching Tree Early Childhood Learning Center for preparing both your post-race meal and awards breakfast. 

Team Canada. Pic: Erin Bibeau

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:
VFuelNew BelgiumMary’s Mountain CookiesTrader Joe’sSquirrel’s Nut Butter, Boulder Organic and the Great Harvest Bread Company.

For more images from the day, please visit Erin Bibeau Photography and Joey Schrichte 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 2018, tentatively on the weekend of July 28-29. We’d also love to see you later in the year at one of our shorter events. On September 9 we’ll be hosting the fifth running of the Black Squirrel Half Marathon in Lory State Park, followed October 21 by the TENTH running of the Blue Sky Marathon, Fort Collins original and only Trail Marathon.

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 following year’s Quad Rock. We will be updating our Gnar Slam page this week, with a list of all those in contention for the 2017 Slam. 

Thank you all!

Tyler Fox leading on Montgomery Ridge. Pic: Ben Barthel

Pic: Erin Bibeau

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Sunny Skies & Fast Times at the 2017 Quad Rock Trail Races

Sunrise over Soldier Canyon, Lory State Park

Sunrise over Soldier Canyon at the start of the 2017 Quad Rock 50.

May is an unpredictable month here in Colorado, and once again the weather played a significant role at the Quad Rock Trail Races. After last year’s unexpected cool and damp conditions, this year we were served up sun and early afternoon temperatures that topped out in the mid-80s. While not so bad for our hard working volunteers and race staff, the early season heat presented a significant challenge for the runners. Nonetheless, the day produced a commanding new course record in the women’s 50 mile race, a fast winning time in the men’s race, and a whole host of wonderful finishes from the rest of the field. 

Overall, we had 178 runners start the 50 mile race and 250 start the 25 mile race for a total of 428 runners on course. Of the 178 runners that started the 50 mile race, 106 completed the full two loops for a 60 percent finisher rate. A total of 305 runners finished the first 25 mile loop, including 50 mile drops, and all are included in the final 25 mile results. There were a total of 17 runners that did not complete the first 25 mile loop.

2017 Quad Rock Winner Brent Kocis

Brent Kocis on his way to winning the 25 mile race.

For full results and aid station splits, please see the results page on the race website.  For pictures from the day, please visit Erin Bibeau’s gallery:

Race results   
Race photos (Erin Bibeau)

In the men’s 25 mile race, it was Blue Sky Trail Marathon champion Brent Kocis who took control midway through the loop to become the day’s first runner to break the tape in a time of 3:28:07. Brent was followed home by Quad Rock 50 mile course record holder Ryan Smith (3:34:16) and Gnar Runners team member Stephen Pretak (3:37:29).

In the women’s 25 mile race, defending champion Ginna Ellis led it out from the gun, but was passed soon after the 10 mile Horsetooth aid station by eventual race winner Taylor Nowlin who crossed the finish line in a time of 4:10:13. Boulder’s Abby Mitchell put in a strong finish to claim second (4:16:29), while Ginna would hang on for third, finishing five minutes behind Abby.

2017 Quad Rock 25 Women's Podium

Women’s 25 mile podium. Ginna Ellis, Taylor Nowlin and Abby Mitchell.

Masters awards in the 25 mile race went to Brazil’s Manuel Lago and Thornton’s Sarah Bunting Lamos. Lago’s performance was particularly impressive as it rounded out a 140 kilometer week during which he led a Colorado training camp that culminated in his group of Brazilian runners taking on the Quad Rock 25. 

The day’s headline race was the women’s 50 miler, which included a deep field of talented ladies. Canadian-born Boulder resident Marianne Hogan stamped her authority on the proceedings early in the race and went on to lay down a commanding performance that saw her best Becky Wheeler’s 2014 course record by over half an hour and finish fifth overall in a time of 8:29:27. Watch for Marianne next month as she heads to Chamonix, France to take on some of the world’s best at the Mont Blanc 80k (50 mile) race.

Kaci Lickteig, Anna Mae Flynn, Clare Gallagher

Kaci Lickteig, Anna Mae Flynn and Clare Gallagher (2, 3, and 4) in the early going.

Some 8 minutes behind Marianne was Kaci Lickteig (8:37:26) who ran a controlled effort all day as she gets ready to defend her Western States 100 mile title next month. Rounding out the podium was a hard charging Anna Mae Flynn (8:40:23) who closed to within three minutes of Kaci at the finish after being adrift by as much as 11 minutes at the 50k point. 

In the 50 mile men’s race, it was 2014 winner Jim Rebenack who led from pillar to post in a controlled and very impressive performance that suggests he’ll be a serious contender when he lines up in August for the Leadville 100. Despite the heat, Jim’s run ranks him third all time in the Quad Rock 50 record books. Jim was followed some 23 minutes later by Daniel Metzger (8:04:07) who for much of the race had been running a close second to Jim. Rounding out the top three was current Never Summer 100 champion Gabe Joyes (8:16:52).

2017 Quad Rock 50 Winner Jim Rebenack

Jim Rebenack went pillar to post for the win in an impressive 7:41

In the master’s division, locals Elijah Flenner (9:04:40) and Tara Carter (11:37:36) took home top honors. Elijah moves onto Western States next month, while Tara will be lining up for the Never Summer 100k in late July as the second leg of her attempt to complete the 2017 Gnar Slam. 

Gnar Runners Team member, Ed Delosh

Gnar team member, Ed Delosh on his way to completing his first ultra as the first leg of the 2017 Gnar Slam.

And speaking of Gnar Slammers, here’s a run down of how the class of 2017 got on this weekend:

  • Ed Delosh – 10:26:10
  • Dave Boyd – 10:31:57
  • Mike Adams – 10:47:55
  • Jeremy Bradford – 11:07:28
  • Tara Carter – 11:37:36
  • Joshua Andert – 12:25:43
  • Diane Bergstedt – 13:01:20
  • Elise McKnight – 13:31:19
  • Rob Broomfield – 13:46:59

In addition to those pushing the pace up front, we of course had a full field of talented and enthusiastic runners behind. By far the best part of our job as race directors is watching finishers come home, especially those who are out there working their way through their first trail race or their first 50 miler. Seeing that sense of accomplishment in the faces of so many finishers is something that never gets old and the main reason we love our job so much, so congratulations to you all. And thank you!

As always, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to our team of wonderful volunteers. Year after year we receive heaping compliments from our runners about how fantastic our volunteer team is, and they are absolutely right. Come rain or shine, you guys are out there getting the job done and helping our runners get to the finish safely. Thank You!

And to our amazing sponsors, thank you!

SalomonDrymax SocksAltitude Running                            Justin Liddle DMD ProsthodontistCountryside Animal HospitalFort Collins Running Club

With generous product support from: VFuel, Trader Joe’sNew Belgium, Intersect BrewingMary’s Mountain Cookies, Great Harvest Bread Company, the Fort Collins Food Coop, Morning Fresh Dairy, and Mugs Coffee Lounge.

Thank you all!

We look forward to seeing you again in 2018 at the same place and approximately the same time. Or even better, we’d love to see you July 22nd at the Never Summer 100km or at one of our shorter events. On September 9 we’ll be hosting the fifth running of the Black Squirrel Half Marathon in Lory State Park, followed October 21 by the 10th running of the Blue Sky Marathon, Fort Collins original and only Trail Marathon.

If you aren’t racing, consider volunteering for one of our next events. We are currently recruiting volunteers for the Never Summer 100K.

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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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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.

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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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Cool Temps, Fast Times at the 2015 Blue Sky Marathon

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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.

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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).

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All Smiles at the Blue Sky Marathon

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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.

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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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