Monday, September 8, 2014

Black Squirrel Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Saturday, September 6
Ft. Collins, CO
Half Marathon #116
Colorado Half #52
Weather - Cool and foggy

The Black Squirrel half marathon was on my list right after it was announced. Unfortunately, last year we were already signed up for something so we missed the inaugural. This is ranked as a pretty tough trail race. I knew it was going to be a relatively long day going into it, but I love trails.

I assumed the race was about an hour away, but after mapping it, turns out it was 90 minutes away. With a 7 am start, we were VERY lucky that my dad was willing to come over to watch the kids at 4:50 in the morning. The drive up was uneventful until we got up near the Horsetooth Reservoir, where we had two different herds of deer crossing and/or standing in the road. Oh, deer!
We were technically carpooling so we should have been permitted to park in the special lot right at the start, but we were routed along with everyone else to park on the road.

We arrived at about 6:30, and used the bathroom before walking over to pick up our packets. Saw a pretty nice sunrise while we were standing in line.

Foggy morning out on the Horsetooth Reservoir
After getting our bibs, we had to run back to the car, grab the rest of our gear and then head back over to the start. By the time we got back we had just a minute to use the bathroom again, and then we lined up and were off.

At the start - you can see how bright our socks were (L is in the neon pink socks)
I lined up pretty close to the back, which turned out well since I had the fire calves right from the beginning. The first mile or so was just on the road and pretty flat. Gave us all a chance to find our pace prior to getting on the single track. I had to walk a lot in the beginning because my calves felt like they were going to explode. By the time we started the climb there were only 3-4 people behind me. I didn't mind. I know I struggle on the climbs, so my goal was to take some pictures, take it easy and pass people one by one.

Running into the fog
Hundreds of tiny runners up on the switchbacks
View looking back down towards the start

I didn't start passing people until maybe 3 or so miles in. I managed to pass a few ladies on the last set of switchbacks on the way up. An older lady out walking her dogs was right on my heels for about a half mile. HOW AM I SO OUT OF SHAPE??

Dying on the uphills
Fog FOREVER - I bet the view was amazing....

We finally get to the aid station - I think about 4.5-5 miles in. Most of the hard part is out of the way. We have moved from single track to a road. It is not technical, and I finally get to run a bit. I start chatting with two ladies and we power hiked up the last of the big climbs, I think just before mile 6. As is my style, I bombed the downhill. I passed probably 15-20 people on the descent. It was still really foggy so I had taken off my sunglasses so I could see where I was going.

The road after the first aid station
My view from the top - last picture until I got down with the descent
 Get to the next aid station around mile 8 or 9 and we ended up on some flatter single track. The ups/downs have trashed my legs a bit. I have passed a lot of people and I don't want them passing me again. I have to do some walking to loosen up my legs. The last aid station was around mile 11 and I didn't stop at that one either. The last few miles felt somewhat downhill and I was able to pass a few more people heading back into the finish area. The last .25 or so was a slight hill back up the road. So tired. So done.

I had been hoping to finish under 3 hours, but missed it by a few minutes. This course was really no joke.

Official Time - 3:01:59
Overall Place - 243/279
Garmin Time - 3:01:50 (no timing chips)
Garmin Distance - 13.26 miles
Garmin Pace - 13:43
Elevation Gain - 2,129'
Mile 1- 12:02
Mile 2 - 16:40
Mile 3 - 14:41
Mile 4 - 20:26
Mile 5 - 16:41
Mile 6 - 16:00
Mile 7 - 12:05
Mile 8 - 11:02
Mile 9 - 12:05
Mile 10 - 12:00
Mile 11 - 13:27
Mile 12 - 10:24
Mile 13 - 11:30
Mile 13.26ish - 13:43

I immediately grabbed my finisher pint glass (no medal) and got into (what I thought was) the beer line. Turns out it was the food line (I realized over a half hour later). I had a great veggie burger, and then had to get in a different line for beer. 45 minutes later I had my pint of Buffalo Gold. Not sure it was worth the wait, but I had already invested some time.


  • Honestly, as a back of the pack runner, I loved this race. The course was very well-marked and in my pace group it was not crowded. For L, she said the first 6 miles were terrible. She said it was very crowded, hard to pas, and people were pretty much on top of each other.
  • The course was a bit more technical than I expected, it was pretty rocky. After all the rain that we have had, it was a little slick and muddy in some spots, but it was overall a very good trail.
  • All the aid stations were apparently well stocked, but didn't have cups (that I saw) - so I was glad I had my Orange Mud vest on me. They supposedly had Tailwind and some snacks, although I actually didn't stop at any of them. 
  • Cool to get a pint glass at the end.
  • If I were fast enough, the age group awards were super cute. A wooden plaque with a stuffed black squirrel on them. Cute and creative!
  • Shirts were black, with the weird bunny in sunglasses logo on the front. Men's and women's cuts, so mine actually fit (I know, I am so terrible about pictures of the shirts).
  • I would probably run this one again.
  • Just as an aside - none of these pictures have been altered in any way. The iPhone really does take some fantastic shots.


  1. Awesome run. Looks like large parts of the trail actually were fairly runnable. Don't know how you are able to run halves and fulls nearly every weekend. I know after a full, I am pretty beaten up for several days. Thanks for the pictures... you really have to be grateful for all the wonderful scenery you've got out there.

  2. Your photos are amazing from this one. Congrats!

  3. Those are some fantastic shots! Looks like a beautiful place to run. Congrats on another great race. Yay for your Dad coming over so early.

  4. Love pint glasses! I always pick those up as souvenirs when I travel or race and now they make up my entire collection of glassware. Classy!

    1. Ha - I think the only glasses I own are pint glasses. Love them!!

  5. i'm always so envious of your views on your runs...this ones no different. congrats on another one!


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