Much like last year, we had beautiful conditions for the 12th running of the Blue Sky Trail Marathon. The brisk pre-dawn temperatures gave way to a cool but comfortable morning, and a light wind out of the south picked up as runners were making their way to the Hunter turn, offering a friendly tailwind for the last 8 miles of the race. And, once again, we had a fast field ready to take full advantage of the ideal running conditions, with new course records being set in both the men’s and women’s races, and a total of 249 runners hitting the finish line from a total of 254 starters.
In the women’s race, course record holder and defending champion Addie Bracy came in as the pre-race favorite. And she lived up to the billing with aplomb, leading the women’s race from start to finish, progressively chipping into her course record splits from last year before crossing the finish line in a massive 10 minute course record (3:35:27).
Former race winner Meghan Spieker completed her fifth Blue Sky Marathon in style, registering another podium finish for second (4:15:07), while Marisa Watson ran strong through the back half of the race to claim third (4:24:19).
The men’s race was a closer affair, with Drew Holman and Tyler Fox running together off the front for the first 20 miles of the race. It was in the last six miles that the race was decided, as it often is in the marathon, with Holman pulling away in the Indian Summer hills and powering to the finish over the last 5 miles on the Blue Sky Trail. His closing 5 miles were a minute quicker than Peavy’s course record split from last year and good enough to reset the bar at 3:10:22.
Tyler Fox would hang on for second in 3:15:22, while Fort Collins-based Grayson Lowe rounded out the podium in 3:24:17.
In the men’s master’s category, it was former race winner and now five-time finisher Ryan Burch bringing home the win for Loveland, CO in an impressive 3:30:42. Rebecca Flowers edged out Tara Carter over the last mile for the women’s master’s victory (4:39:54), while the grandmasters wins went to Amber Allen (4:47:12) and Rick Granquist (3:56:27).
All award winners took home beautiful pottery awards from local artisan Amy Hayman.
This year we saw 11 runners complete the Gnar Slam, the exact same number as last year, but this time with a record five female finishers. The Gnar Slam is a recognition of those runner that complete all four Gnar Runners trail races in a calendar year:
The points in the final standings for the Gnar Slam are derived as a percentage of the overall winner’s time in each race (male and female), allowing us to offer equal weighting to each race despite the difference in distance.
This year, we combined the men’s and the women’s standings and it was an incredibly close run thing at the top. Tara Carter came into Blue Sky with a slender four point lead over Travis Massey. After it was all said and done and the points had been computed, Tara jut edged out Travis on top with an overall points win of half a point (330.27 vs 329.81). Tara’s cumulative time across the four races (33:23:06) was good enough to best Colleen Weitzel’s record from last year.
A hearty congratulations to all of our 2019 Gnar Slam finishers! It’s been a fun journey to watch you all progress through the season, and we can’t wait to do it all again next year.
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 our volunteers, whether parking cars in the morning, marshaling runners at the turns, or filling bottles at the aid stations. Thank you to each and every one of 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. Thank you Salomon Running, Colorado in Motion, Altitude Running, Justin Liddle DMD, Countryside Animal Hospital, and the Fort Collins Running Club for your incredible race support.
The Blue Sky Trail Marathon marks the end of the 2019 season for us at Gnar Runners, but we’re already looking forward to 2020 with excitement.
Thank you all again for a wonderful season, and see you in 2020!