The 2024 Gnar Runners Team
For the 2024 season, we’re extremely proud to be bringing together a group of local trail runners under the banner of the Gnar Runners Team. They are a passionate group of local trail runners with a broad spectrum of abilities we’re thrilled to have as ambassadors for the Gnar Runners race series and the local Northern Colorado trail running community more broadly. Not only will you see the team out and about at local and regional races this season, but they’ll also be helping to lead training and social runs throughout the year.
Quad Rock 50mi & 25mi Training
There are organized training runs every Saturday January-May for Quad Rock. See the Fort Collins Trail Runners Facebook Group for details on times, locations & routes. Most training runs will be on the race course.
We’ve put together two training outlines for the race. The ‘basic/intermediate’ plan is designed to get you ready to finish the race, and is suitable for those newer to trail and ultras. The ‘advanced plan’ is more aggressive and is designed for those with a good level of experience and looking to improve times. Pease use the links below to view the detailed plans:
- Date: TBD
- Start: 8:00am at Lory State Park
- BBQ Potluck: *Tentative* 1:00pm – 3:30pm (please bring something to share or a few dollars to contribute for picnic area rental, BBQ supplies, food and other misc.)
- Fees: No registration is required. Runners are responsible for their own park entrance fee ($9 Day Pass per car if you don’t already have a Colorado State Parks Annual Pass. Carpooling strongly recommended.)
- Course: Most runners will follow the Quad Rock 25 mile loop (GPX File) but everyone is welcome to run any part of the course. And anyone is welcome to start earlier or later. The route will not be marked but we will have plenty of local runners attending so most runners should be able to buddy up with a similarly paced runner or group of runners, with at least one person who knows the course. If you are new to the area, however, please remember to print a map. Full size detailed maps of Lory and Horsetooth are available from Fort Collins JAX.
- Other: We will not have any aid stations on the course. There are water pumps at the Horsetooth Trailhead, Soldier Canyon Trailhead, and the Lory Visitor Center. We will also place several jugs of water at the Arthur’s Trailhead.
Runners are responsible for their own safety – we will not keep track of attendance and will not have a course sweep.
For a shorter 18 mile route, the Spring Creek-Westridge loop can be cut off from the Horsetooth side of the course.
For a longer route, you can add an extra loop back up and over Arthur’s and straight back on the East Valley Trail for 34.6 miles.
Dogs on leash are welcome.
Never Summer 100km/60km Training
On Saturdays in June/July, there will typically be carpools of runners from Fort Collins heading to State Forest State Park to train on the course. Those will be posted in the Fort Collins Trail Runners Facebook group.
Continuing for 2024, we are offering camping and camaraderie at the Gould Community Center (race start). Reservations will be available Friday & Saturday nights. Open to tents and campers (no hookups).
Camping is free for trail work volunteers. Please email to confirm.
Saturday, 8:00am: Meet at Ranger Lakes Campground to run the southern section of the course. From Ranger Lakes to the Diamond Aid site it is roughly 16 miles (with 2 mile jog on the highway shoulder back to Ranger Lakes – or car drops/shuttle can be arranged). The full loop from Ranger Lakes to North Diamond, across to Montgomery and down to Bockman and back to Ranger Lakes via the Grass Creek/Gould Mtn section of the course would be in the 32 mile range.
Sunday, 8:00am: Meet at Ruby Jewel Trailhead. Run Kelly Lake/Hidden Valley, northern loop and back to Ruby via Canadian/North Yurt for 19/24 miles (with/without Clear Lake spur). A shorter option would be to shortcut on the access road to Canadian from the Kelly Lake junction (~14 miles).
Sunday Northside 15 Mile GPX
Sunday Northside 23 Mile (or 19 Mile if you skip the Clear Lake O&B) GPX
Trail work volunteers can meet up with us either day at the same starting trailhead. You’re welcome to just show up in the morning, but you can also let us know you’re coming.
Black Squirrel Half & Blue Sky Marathon & Half Training
Check out our Black & Blue Training Program for the Black Squirrel (9 Weeks) and/or Blue Sky (14 Weeks).
Also check out the Lory Summer Trail Series, a great lead-in to both races.
Recommended Blue Sky Long Runs
Blue Sky to Devil’s Backbone:
Start at the Soderberg Trailhead and run the full length of the Blue Sky Trail to the Devil’s Backbone Trailhead and back. If you skip the Indian Summer Loop, the total distance is about 20 miles. Add about 1.25 miles if you add the Indian Summer Loop. There is a water pump at the Devil’s Backbone Trailhead where you can refill. Just note that you will not run all the way to this trailhead during the race, but you can get familiar with the loops in Devil’s Backbone and note the turnaround location at the end of the Hunter Loop. This is also a great training run for anyone traveling up from the south since you can save some drive time by starting at the Devil’s Backbone Trailhead in Loveland. Devil’s Backbone (as well as the Soderberg and Blue Sky) Trailhead requires a Larimer County Parks Annual Pass or an $10 Day Pass.
Horsetooth Loop plus Blue Sky:
Start at either the Blue Sky or the Soderberg Trailhead and run the first north section of the marathon course in Horsetooth. Refill water back at the trailhead and then run the Blue Sky oute around the Indian Summer loop and back. This is a perfect 20 mile training run that combines the harder hill climbing at the start of the race with the rolling hills of the Blue Sky trail.
Weekly Fort Collins Trail Runners Runs:
As always, please respect trail closures. Check COTREX.org for the latest information.
Towers Road Hill Climb
Soderberg Trailhead (lower Horsetooth parking lot) – Every other Thursday at 6pm
Groups meet every other Thursday evening at the Soderberg Trailhead for a staggered start run on Towers Road. The route is 3.4 miles from the trailhead to the summit. Total elevation gain is approximately 1,700ft and it takes anywhere from 28:50 (Sam Malmberg’s current FKT) to an hour depending on ability and motivation. Runners who plan to reach the top in 50 minutes start at 6pm. Anyone who needs more time can show up early and estimate their own handicap (i.e. a 60 minute ascent estimate would start at 5:50pm). Faster runners will start later based on their ascent estimate. Everyone gets to the top at about the same time, so no matter how fast or slow you are, you’ll have some good encouragement and motivation on the way up. Once everyone meets at the top, the group jogs back down the hill at a casual and conversational pace.
Pineridge Social Run
Spring Canyon Park (by the dog park) – Every other Thursday at 6pm
Alternating with Towers on Thursdays. Typical route is 5mi, unless trails are closed for mud. This is a no drop run open and welcoming to runners of all abilities, with multiple stops to regather. The group typically enjoys additional socialization after the run at Intersect Brewing.
Towers/Horsetooth Social Runs
& Soderberg Trailhead – Alternating Mondays at 6p (this one is more likely to sometimes have the meetup location change – check Fort Collins Trail Runners on Facebook for the latest.
Runs vary from 4-7mi. The group heads out at 6:00 sharp (especially in cold weather), so plan to arrive a few minutes early. As with all of the social runs, all speeds are welcome, there are re-grouping points so that no one gets left behind, and fellow runners will look to get everyone back safely.
Spring Vertical Madness
Once the weather turns for the better, things start getting a little silly among the Fort Collins Trail Running crowd. The spring vertical series includes the following training staples for Fort Collins ultrarunners trying to whip themselves into shape for the summer season. These are highly recommended in preparing for Quad Rock:
March Mileage Madness – Horsetooth Reservoir Circumnavigation
The Round Up – 30 Miles, 10,000′, One summit of Round Mountain. The Round Up is a full set of ladder repeats up to each mile marker until you reach the summit. For an extra challenge, try to negative split each mile repeat both up and down. A single summit trip is about 9 miles and there are unlimited options to run whatever series of repeats that you like.
Crosier Mountain Triple Bagger – 26 Miles, 8,000′, three summits of Crosier Mountain.
Anyone is welcome to post an invite on the Fort Collins Trail Runners group to coordinate a group run. Someone from the group is always going out for a long run somewhere every weekend and there is usually an announcement or two to the group each week from people looking for company.
We will update this page and will post to our Gnar Runners Facebook page when we confirm any formal plans for additional race training runs.
Gnar Runners regularly participates in local advocacy efforts on behalf of our trails. Nick & Brad are members of the Northern Colorado Trails Advocacy Group (TAG) representing the full breadth of trail users (hike, run, bike, equestrian, etc).
Local trails are managed by a host of governmental authorities, from City to County to State to National. Each has their own management and volunteer programs, and we work hard to keep current and promote opportunities with each. At any given time, at least one is updating a Park Management Plan, and we similarly promote and participate in the development processes. Follow our Gnar Runners Facebook Page, the Fort Collins Trail Runners Facebook Page, and/or join our Email List to stay current on the latest.
Join the Fort Collins Trail Runners Facebook group to get additional updates on local training and social runs.
“Promoting fitness through running since 1971”
The mission of the Fort Collins Running Club is to promote running in Fort Collins, Colorado and its surrounding communities by:
- Providing an enjoyable and positive running atmosphere.
- Providing competitive and participatory events for runners of all abilities and interests.
- Promoting the healthful benefits, both physical and mental, that running can provide.
For additional winter road runs, consider joining our Horsetooth Half Marathon training series with the Fort Collins Running Club.
Our events wouldn’t be possible without the help of an army of amazing volunteers. After each of our races, we make donations to non-profit groups that bring out volunteers to help staff key positions. Want to fundraise for your organization? We’re always open to new non-profit groups of 8 or more looking to trade volunteering for cash donations. Contact Us to learn more.
If you enjoy our events, then please take a look at the following list of contributing organizations and consider making a donation:
The Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol (D.P.S.P.) is a volunteer organization, providing educational services about emergency medical care and mountain safety. Patrollers also provide emergency medical care and information on backcountry preparedness and snow conditions. Based in Fort Collins, Colorado, Diamond Peaks patrols trails within the National Forest at Cameron Pass. They are an adaptable resource of valuable individuals dedicated to education and service in the skiing and outdoor recreation community.
The Northern Colorado Amateur Radio Club (N.C.A.R.C.) uses their network of technical resources for recruiting, training and assisting Amateur Radio Operators as well as supporting the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (A.R.E.S.) by providing equipment and skilled operators for emergency communications services when called upon.
N.C.A.R.C. radio operators offer their communications services strictly on a volunteer basis and will never accept payment or a direct donation. Consider becoming a Ham Radio Operator to volunteer time and give back to the community. Many of our remote trail races would not be possible without the communication support provided by licensed radio operators.
Past beneficiaries of Gnar Runners events also include:
- Friends of Staunton State Park
- Numerous Poudre School District Track and Cross Country teams
- Teaching Tree
- Athletes in Tandem
- C.A.R.A. Cross Country
- Jackson County Search & Rescue
- Larimer County Search and Rescue
- Larimer County Department of Natural Resources
- Friends of Lory State Park
- Wildlands Restoration Volunteers
- Animal Friends Alliance
- Immanuel Christian Reformed
- Colorado State University Food and Nutrition Club
Gnar Runners was founded in 2011 by local Fort Collins trail runners Nick Clark and Pete Stevenson.
Gnar Runners hosts events designed to promote enthusiasm and passion for the sport of ultra, trail and road running in beautiful Northern Colorado settings. We are committed to not only hosting top quality races, but also to building community through year-round training events and outdoor volunteer projects. Run a race, attend a training event or spend a day volunteering on the trail with us and become a part of the community. We welcome you with open arms.
Nick Clark has been running Colorado trails since moving to Fort Collins in 2006, and has logged literally thousands of miles on his neighborhood trails at Horsetooth Mountain Park and Lory State Park, the venues for the Quad Rock 50, Black Squirrel Half Marathon, and Blue Sky Trail Marathon. Nick once competed at the national level in ultra-distance races and has numerous titles and course records to his name. He is an active member of both the Fort Collins Trail Runners and the Fort Collins Running Club and loves to share his enthusiasm for running up mountains with just about anyone who’ll listen or tag along.
Brad Bishop moved to Colorado in 2011 because he’d spent enough of his life not living near mountains. He finished his first ultra in 2009 with the Kansas City Trail Nerds, and has since accumulated more than 80 ultra finishes, including 30+ 100milers and a pair of Grand Slams. After a few years running, volunteering and working Gnar Runners, he joined the organization as a partner in 2019. You can find him at most group runs around town, especially with the Fort Collins Running Club and their Tortoise & Hare races, as well as his “side-gig” as Aid Station Director & Webmaster for the Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run. He is pursuing a whimsical career goal of 10 Grand Slam finishes. (And his annual Christmas light display is worth checking out.)
In addition to owning and managing the Gnar Runners Quad Rock, Never Summer, Staunton, Black Squirrel, Red Feather and Blue Sky trail races, Gnar Runners also offers race management services for the following local events:
Interested in contracting Gnar Runners to manage your event? Contact us today!