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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The Inaugural Running of the Black Squirrel Half Marathon: Race Recap

The start of the inaugural running of the Black Squirrel Half marathon. Erin Bibeau Photography.

The start of the inaugural running of the Black Squirrel Half marathon. Erin Bibeau Photography.

It was a hot one for the inaugural running of the Black Squirrel Trail Half Marathon, hosted on the beautiful trails of Lory State park, but that didn’t deter 206 hardy runners from completing the challenging course.

Runners snake up the start of the Timber climb.

Runners snake up the start of the Timber climb. Erin Bibeau

Corey Hanson led the charge off the front of the race, with a colorful procession of runners following him up the snaking Timber trail through the opening 1,500 feet of climbing to the high point of the Park on the Westridge doubletrack trail.

From there views opened up to Longs Peak on the west and the City of Fort Collins to the east, before the precipitous plunge down the Howard trail to the Arthurs Rock aid station.

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Human-sized Black Squirrel, aka, Katie Robinson. Erin Bibeau Photography.

Runners reported Black Squirrel sightings at both the bottom of the technical Howard descent and also at the Arthurs Rock aid station.

From the mile 8 Arthurs aid station, runners were treated to rolling hard pack singletrack on the south and east valley trails all the way into the finish. Although the majority of the climbing was over by the time runners hit the valley trails, this section proved to be the hardest for many due to the intense heat and lack of shade.

At the front of the field, Corey Hanson, who lives a half mile from the Park entrance, would hang on to win the inaugural running of the race and in doing so set the course record in an impressive 1:36:10. He was soon followed by Cory Linfield (1:37:33) and Christopher Knott  (1:41:26) in second and third respectively.

Corey Hanson in the lead at mile 8. Erin Bibeau

Corey Hanson in the lead at mile 8. Erin Bibeau

In the women’s race, Longmont resident Melissa Dock led pillar to post and crossed the finish line ninth overall in a time of 1:49:50. She was followed by Wyoming’s Esther Hartsky (1:56:50) and local favorite Jenn Malmberg (1:57:48).

The masters divisions were won by Ed Delosh (1:49:25) and Monica Brackney (2:04:10), while the open divisions (39 & under) were won by Adam St.Pierre (1:42:08) and Samantha Wood (1:58:36).

Our two final finishers, Ben Erickson and Gary Nelson, received a standing ovation before being escorted over to the post-race BBQ for burgers and beers along with the rest of the festive post-race crowd.

Prizes included gift certificates to Runners Roost Fort Collins, in addition to Black Squirrel awards crafted in the Arts and Crafts Department of Gnar Runners, LLC.

Melissa Dock on her way to winning. Erin Bibeau

Melissa Dock on her way to winning. Erin Bibeau

As race directors, Pete and I are always thankful for the wonderful trail running community we have here in Fort Collins. Pulling together a volunteer crew is an essential part of putting on a successful race and as always our volunteers were the biggest source of post-race compliments that we received. So, once again, a huge thank you to all our wonderful volunteers. We couldn’t do it without you.

We also couldn’t put on the types of races that we aspire 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 Colorado Physical Therapy Specialists, Justin Liddle DMD, Countryside Vet, Runners Roost, Succeed, Great Harvest, IZZE and Powered by Plants.

The Arthurs Rock (1) crew. Erin Bibeau.

The Arthurs Rock (1) crew. Erin Bibeau.

We are greatly looking forward to the second running of the Black Squirrel Half, and hope to see you there too. Oh, and if you enjoyed the Black Squirrel, consider running it’s parent race, the Blue Sky Marathon, Fort Collins’ first (and only) trail marathon.

The Creative Department at Gnar Runners, Mary Boyts, getting significant air. Erin Bibeau.

The Creative Department at Gnar Runners, Mary Boyts, getting significant air. Erin Bibeau.

Hanging out post-race. Erin Bibeau.

Hanging out post-race. Erin Bibeau.

Thanks for coming. See you next year! Erin Bibeau Photography.

Thanks for coming. See you next year! Erin Bibeau Photography.

 

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2013 Quad Rock Race Recap

“With the exception of vertical and suffering (there was a ton of that) we experienced a little bit of everything out there with sun, rain, lightning, thunder, hail and mud.” ~ Kraig Koski in a post-race note.

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Mother Nature threw us a few spring curveballs out there on Saturday, but She deterred nobody. A huge and sincere congratulations to everyone who came out to toe the line this weekend, from the seasoned veterans to the crazy first-timers who chose to make the Quad Rocker their virgin 50 miler.

Trail love. Erin Bibeau Photography

Trail love. Photo: Erin Bibeau Photography

We had some fast finishers on the trails and we had some great stories from the front of the pack to the back. Indeed our last 50 miler to the 25 mile turn posted perhaps the most impressive back 25 miles of anyone on the course. Oza Klanjsek was the only person who resisted the temptation of the post-race BBQ and actually upgraded to the full 50 … 25 miles and 6 hours 33 minutes into her race day.

The only view anyone had of Oza on the back 25. Photo: Milan Klanjsek.

All other 50 milers after her either dropped out or missed the cut offs. Oza not only finished but ran a negative split to pass 14 other runners and finish in 13:03:06. We haven’t checked all of the splits but we’re pretty sure no one runs a negative split on our course.

We’re also incredibly proud of our final 25 mile finishers Molly Watkins and Debra Powell. Molly decided early this year that after giving birth to her son Ewan she would challenge herself with the longest (and toughest) run of her life. Molly trained hard to get ready for the event, so all of us in the Fort Collins trail running community were super excited to see her get the job done, and she couldn’t have had a better trail companion than Deb Powell who stuck with her all day.

At the pointy end of the field, we had some fast times and exciting race action. In the women’s races we had two Boulder(area)’ites take top honors.

Kerry Bruxvoort rolling through the Arthur's Meadow. Photo: Erin Bibeau Photography.

Kerry Bruxvoort rolling through the Arthur’s Meadow. Photo: Erin Bibeau Photography.

Kerry Bruxvoort ran uncontested the whole day, staying strong for a comfortable win and new course record (9:23). She was followed by Wyoming’s Becky Wheeler (9:42) in her first race back after a long injury lay-off, and rounding out the top three was Kris Klotzbach (10:15), finishing in exactly the same position as she did last year.

Silke Koester from Boulder was our 25 mile winner, looking smooth all morning in setting a new course record (4:20). She was followed by soon-to-be Fort Collins’ite Emily Warner (4:28) who ran all morning with her significant other Ryan Quinnelly as they checked out what will soon be their new backyard trails. Rounding out the top three was Nancy Citriglia from Winter Park.

Silke Koester. Erin Bibeau Photography

Silke Koester. Photo: Erin Bibeau Photography

The men’s 50 mile field featured some seasoned mountain ultra vets, a two-time Olympian, and a U.S. Olympic Marathon alternate. Mike Aish showed his Olympic pedigree by leading out the race through the early going, making the turn in approximately 3:30, followed in short order by Josh Arthur, Ryan Burch and Paul Hamilton.

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Josh Arthur getting it done in the 50 mile race. Photo: Chris Gerber.

Josh took the race by the scruff of the neck on the return 25, making it three wins out of three in his 2013 campaign (7:44). Watch out for Josh at Leadville this summer. Local runner Paul Hamilton wasn’t looking so hot at the turnaround, but somehow managed to rally for a really impressive second lap in his first stab at the distance, finishing just six minutes off the winning pace in second. Rounding out the top three was local favorite, last year’s winner, and still the course record holder, Ryan Burch (8:00). After a slight wrong turn early in the second lap, pre-race favorite Mike Aish faded to fourth (8:14).

Dane Mitchell came back this year to avenge his navigational mishap from 2012, posting a flawless and uncontested 25 mile win in a new course record time of 3:25. Andrew Catalano (3:40) and Andrew Bock (3:45) rounded out the top three in a finishing field of 176 25 mile runners.

There were 111 50 mile finishers, with approximately 61 calling it a day after 25 miles.

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Dane Mitchell charging up the final climb in the 25 mile race. Photo: Erin Bibeau Photography

At 1:30 in the afternoon, we let loose the kids in the second annual Dirty Feet, Healthy Smiles one mile race. The kids all thoroughly enjoyed themselves before going back about the important business of rolling around in the mud.

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The little Liddles making their parents proud. Photo: Shannon Price.

Of course, we couldn’t put on the kind of race we aspire to put on without the magnificent help of our sponsors and volunteers. We consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to live in the kind of town where people don’t even need to be asked to volunteer because hanging outside at an aid station, marking or tearing down a course, or helping with any other number of necessary jobs is their idea of fun. To our volunteers, a MASSIVE thank you; you were easily the biggest source of compliments we had all day from our runners.

And of course a big thank you to our very generous sponsors. Both Pearl Izumi and Cornerstone Home Lending (Hunter Team) came through in a big way to support our little event, and we ask that you consider supporting them if you’re in the market for high-quality race apparel and shoes, or a home mortgage (see reverse side of your race bib for a generous offer from Cornerstone Home Lending: tell Jimmy we sent you).

Cat Speights gets it done in the 50. Photo: Photo: Erin Bibeau

Cat Speights gets it done in the 50. Photo: Photo: Erin Bibeau Photography

We’re also heavily indebted to our community sponsors, all of whom are linchpins in the local running community: Countryside Vet (Dr. Cat Speights), Justin Liddle DMD, and Colorado Physical Therapist Specialists. On-course nutrition was provided by First Endurance, and post-race schwag by Smith Optics, Highgear Altimeters, and Ultraspire Hydration. As always, Runners Roost Fort Collins came through in a big way with equipment, supplies and post race awards. We had beer from local brewery Pateros Creek, drinks from IZZE and the Bellevue Bean, and killer cookies and cinnamon rolls from Great Harvest Bread Co.

Thank you all.

 

The Roost was on site. Photo: Erin Bibeau Photography

The Roost was on site. Photo: Erin Bibeau Photography

Pateros Creek Brewing fuels the post-race party. Photo: Erin Bibeau Photography.

Pateros Creek Brewing fuels the post-race party. Volunteers from Animal House Rescue staff the BBQ. Photo: Erin Bibeau Photography.

Arthur's Aid. Photo: Erin Bibeau

Arthur’s Aid. Larimer County Search and Rescue volunteers helped to staff our aid stations. Photo: Erin Bibeau Photography

Lindsay Martin having a little too much fun. Photo: Erin Bibeau

Lindsay Martin having a little too much fun. Photo: Erin Bibeau

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.

And a final note: if you left anything behind at the race, there is a good chance it is hanging out at Runners Roost in the lost and found pile. We also have one runner looking for a Polar GPS unit, so please email us if you found that.

Looking forward to seeing many of you in 2014 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 August 31 we will be hosting the inaugural Black Squirrel Half Marathon in Lory State Park, followed October 6 by the sixth running of the Blue Sky Marathon, Fort Collins original and only Trail Marathon.

Be GNARful out there!

Photo: Erin Bibeau Photography

Mike Hinterberg leading the way under Arthur’s Rock. Photo: Erin Bibeau Photography

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Thanks for a Successful 2012 Race!

Once again, our Blue Sky Marathon was a huge success thanks to our generous sponsors and hard working volunteers.

We had ideal running weather this year. The 7am start was a bit chilly but runners quickly warmed up on the climb up Towers Road and the rest of the day was comfortably cool with gorgeous clear blue skies.

128 runners started the race this year. 116 finished under the official 7 hour cut off. Another 5 runners made were recognized for finishing the full course just over the cut off.

Ryan Burch won the race in 3:21:28. A perfect homecoming for Ryan’s first race after returning from basic training earlier in September.

Ryan Burch running through Indian Summer. (Photo by Erin Bibeau)

Kaija Staley won the women’s race in a course record time of 3:57:39. The previous course record was 4:16:47. Kaija is the only woman who has run the race under 4 hours.

And thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, we were able to raise over $8,000 for our beneficiaries this year. Funds will be distributed to local trail projects, Larimer County Search and Rescue, and other outdoor programs.

Runners make their way across the valley towards Coyote Ridge during the 2012 Blue Sky Marathon. (Photo by Erin Bibeau)

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2010 Blue Sky Marathon Comments and Reports from the Runners

Blog reports and photos:

2010 Overall Male Winner, Chris Grauch’s Race Report.

Matt Perry’s Race Report

Ashley Waddell’s Race Report

Report from Tower’s Aid Station Captain, Nick Clark

This is a great video presentation by Chris Grauch:

Comments:

I had a wonderful day at the Blue Sky race. It seem everyone was enjoying just as much as me if not more! The perfect event.

Thanks to all the Fort Collins Trail Runners that worked to make the race happen.

To me the community feel is a big part of what elevates this race. All the volunteers were completely dedicated. That was impressive – thanks! Besides the running, it was a real treat to meet many local runners and share a story.

Don Walker


Once again a wonderful job to you all. I enjoyed the new course even more than last year, though the walk at the end hurt (it reminded me of my many, many mountain climbing days, when all you want to do see the car and you’ve still got a long walk back to the car). I love how you call us by our name – when you’re suffering little things like that can really help. And the spread at the end, goodie bags and aid station were all great.

Thanks for putting on a great race.

Dan England


What a great event! This was my second half marathon, and my first trail half marathon. I have never had so much fun during a race – beautiful weather, gorgeous trails, and super friendly volunteers made this my favorite event to date. My husband and I got married three weeks ago and then backpacked the Colorado Trail for two weeks – so there was not a lot of training for this race! Maybe not my best time, but I certainly had the best time. Thanks for all your hard work – I’ll definitely be there next year!

Joselyne (Sulzner) Perry


Many thanks for a wonderful race. The race was incredibly well organized, the volunteers were wonderful, the course was beautiful, and the other runners were very friendly. The volunteers actually radioed names of runners to the Indian Summer aid station, and I was greeted by first name when I arrived at the aid station. Thanks! That was a very special touch. I really enjoyed the morning, and I hope that the Fort Collins runners continue organizing this event. It was probably one of the most enjoyable races that I have run.

Michael Wunsch


If you have any comments, videos, photos, or blog posts to share, please email us at info@blueskymarathon.com.

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2010 Blue Sky Marathon Race Report

The 2010 Blue Sky Marathon and Half Marathon held on Sunday October 3rd were a huge success thanks to many hard working volunteers, generous sponsors, and a wonderful field of runners.

We had 80 runners in the marathon and 105 runners in the half marathon this year. In the marathon race, Chris Grauch from Boulder took an early lead and after the first 9 mile loop, Sam Malmberg was just seconds behind. But Chris was able to continue building his lead throughout the race and finished in 3:26:38 safely in first place with Sam just over 4 minutes behind.

In the women’s marathon Becky Flowers took the lead early in the start with Jennifer Malmberg trailing just a couple steps behind. On the final return trip over the Indian Summer hill, Jennifer made a move into first place and managed to build a 5 minute lead in the last 6 miles to win the race with a new women’s course record of 4:16:47. Second and third place finishers Becky Flowers and Kristy Falcon also broke the original 2008 women’s course record.

Overall Marathon winners, Chris Grauch and Jennifer Malmberg.
Photos by Erin Bibeau Photography

In the half marathon, Michael Jackson from Loveland took first place for the men’s race in 1:32:18 and Sarah Hansen from Fort Collins finished first for the women in 1:42:10. No records were broken in the half marathon race but Sarah’s time was just 26 seconds behind the original 2008 women’s record.

Overall Half Marathon winners, Michael Jackson and Sarah Hansen.
Photos by Erin Bibeau Photography

Some of the more remarkable running performances of the day were further back in the pack. Danielle Heath became our youngest female half marathon finisher at age 17. Mary Gilbert tied the record for our oldest female half marathon finisher at age 61. Kathy Kirsling became our oldest female marathon finisher completing her first marathon at age 61. It’s never too late to start! Bill Moyle’s 2008 record for our oldest male finisher still stands at age 69. This year at age 71, Bill completed the marathon but arrived at the finish line after the timing crew had already shut off the clock.

Jackson Chamberlain, age 12, was another late arrival at the finish line. Jackson has already finished the half marathon two years in a row and had set out to become our youngest marathon finisher this year. Unfortunately he didn’t make the time cut off at the Indian Summer South aid station and was out of the race by mile 15.5. But instead of riding out with the aid station volunteers or taking the short cut on the half marathon route back to the start, Jackson retraced his steps along the marathon course back up and over the Indian Summer hill to complete over 21 miles of the course – the longest he’s ever run. Chris Michael became our youngest male marathon finisher this year at age 20 so Jackson has a few years left to

Volunteers greeted Bill Moyle with a line in the dirt where the finish tent used to be.

At the end of the day it seemed like everyone had a great time and we were able to raise a lot of money for a good cause. Almost all of our race expenses were covered by donations and contributions from our generous local business sponsors. As a result we were able to raise over $7,000 to distribute to the Larimer County Parks and Open Spaces, Larimer County Search and Rescue, Athletes in Tandem, and local youth running programs.

Some runners had more fun than others.
Photo by Running Guru
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