2016 Black Squirrel & Blue Sky Training Runs

Blue Sky Trail Marathon Course

Photo by Eric Lee

Gnar Runners will be hosting several informal training runs leading up to the Black Squirrel Half Marathon and the Blue Sky Marathon.

Black Squirrel Half Marathon Training Runs
Thursday 8/18 and 9/1 starting at 6pm at the Timber Trailhead in Lory State Park.
4.5, 8, 9.5, and full 13.1 mile route options are available.
Follow us on Facebook here or join the Fort Collins Trail Runners Group for more info.

Blue Sky Marathon Long Run
Sunday 9/4 starting at 7:30am at the Blue Sky Trailhead
We’ll have an informal potluck social gathering back at the trailhead at about 11:30-Noon after the run. More info is online here:



2016 Blue Sky Marathon Registration Opens 12/15/2015

We’re opening registration for the 2016 Blue Sky Marathon with a super early discount of just $55 on 12/15/2015!

Preparations for the 2016 season are well underway here at race HQ. We’ve got dates and a few news items to share for the 2016 Gnar Runners Race Series, which this year will be hosted in partnership with the generous support of Salomon Running.

Click here for the full details.


Injury Prevention Advice from Colorado Physical Therapy Specialists

This article from our top Blue Sky Marathon and Black Squirrel Half Marathon sponsor, Colorado Physical Therapy Specialists discusses the key stabilizing muscles for running and what you can do to strengthen them to help decrease your chance of injury.

Runners commonly suffer from overuse injuries such as knee pain (“runner’s knee”, IT band syndrome, patellar tendinitis), achilles tendinitis, and plantar fasciitis. Despite the variety of injuries that afflict runners, there are a few simple things you can do to reduce your risk and keep your running pain free.

Some of you may already be doing core exercises to help with your running. The back and abdominal muscles commonly strengthened with core exercises are an integral part of any run-strengthening program. However, ensuring adequate strength of the hip abductor and hip external rotator muscles are frequently overlooked. These hip muscles are important for stabilizing your knee each time your foot hits the ground. Too much movement of the knee can result in pain under and around the knee cap, or pain in the IT band or patellar tendon.

The hip abductors and external rotators are also needed for controlling excessive foot pronation (foot rolling inward). Contrary to popular belief, foot pronation is not a bad thing. It is important to assist with shock absorption when your foot hits the ground. However, too much pronation may be a contributing factor to overuse running injuries. Excessive pronation can be controlled by orthotics or a motion controlled/stability shoe. It can also be controlled by strengthening the hip abductors and external rotators as well as muscles of the foot and ankle. If the excessive movement can be controlled by strengthening these muscles, it generally makes more sense to help our body do what it was designed to do and strengthen the muscles as opposed to using an external support.

As you can see, weakness in the hip muscles will result in decreased stability in the hip, knee, ankle and foot. In addition to good strength, you must also have good control. Think of good control like a complex engine that constantly makes minor adjustments to function at peak performance. When your foot strikes the ground, your hip muscles must quickly contract to control your leg motion without you thinking about it. A loss of control can set you up for a multitude of overuse injuries. The good news is you can dramatically reduce your risk of injury by improving your hip muscle strength and control.

So how do you know if you have weakness or poor control of these hip muscles? Performing a single leg mini squat is a simple test that you can do to give you an idea of how much hip control you have.

The following video shows how to perform a single leg mini squat.

Good hip control is demonstrated by maintaining level hips and your knee moving directly over your foot without collapsing inward. If you do not have good control doing the single leg mini squat (a static exercise), you likely have less control with more dynamic exercises such as running.

Your physical therapist or personal trainer can help you determine the best exercises for your hip muscles. Visit ColPTs.com for an example of a good dynamic core and hip exercise to help you continue running injury free.

Drs. Tim Flynn and Terry Gebhardt are physical therapists and owners of Colorado Physical Therapy Specialists.


Colorado Physical Therapy Specialists Sponsor the Blue Sky Marathon

We are very pleased to have Colorado Physical Therapy Specialists as the presenting sponsor for the inaugural Black Squirrel Half Marathon and sixth running of the Blue Sky Marathon.

In addition to supporting the Blue Sky Marathon for the last five years, and the Quad Rock races for the last two years, Colorado Physical Therapy Specialists has helped many local runners get back out onto the trails by fixing IT band syndrome, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, achilles tendinitis, back pain, and all forms of muscle and joint strains, aches, and pains. Partners Terry Gebhardt and Tim Flynn are both accomplished ultra runners and know how important running is for those who love to run.

Colorado Physical Therapy Specialists is now offering running assessments through video analysis to help improve running performance and decrease the risk of future injuries. In addition to a full examination, runners can receive specific recommendations for individual exercises to correct faulty mechanics and improve running performance.

We are also very fortunate to have several other local businesses supporting our races.

Local trail and ultrarunners Cat Speights and Justin Liddle have once again stepped up to show their support for the Fort Collins running community with sponsorship of the Black Squirrel Half Marathon and the Blue Sky Marathon.

Justin Liddle (DMD), an accredited and trusted Fort Collins prosthodontist, specializes in a wide variety of complex dental treatments. Justin is also an avid trail runner and will be running in both the Half Marathon and Marathon.

Dr Catherine Speights is the go-to small animal vet in the running community (and beyond). Her practice, Countryside Animal Hospital, specializes in personalized care of dogs and cats in a home-like setting. Look for Cat at the front of the women’s field in both the Half Marathon and Marathon.

Runners Roost Fort Collins donates race equipment and product prizes. Succeed will stock our aid stations with Ultra Sports Drink and S! Caps. And our post race BBQ will include healthy vegan salads from Powered by Plants, Izze sodas, and goodies from Great Harvest Bread Co.

Please consider supporting our sponsors – they are all local to Fort Collins and we couldn’t do this without their kind help.


Registration Open for Blue Sky Marathon & Black Squirrel Half

Gnar Runners Events is pleased to announce that registration has opened for both the Blue Sky Marathon (click to register) and a new trail race, the Black Squirrel Half Marathon.

Management of the Blue Sky Marathon, now in its sixth year, has been transferred from Blue Sky Events to Gnar Runners, but the original mission remains: to raise funds for running- and outdoor-related beneficiaries, and to put on a race that showcases local Fort Collins trails and appeals to a broad section of the running community. For 2013, the race has received approval from Larimer County to expand the field to 275 runners. We have added an extra hour to the race cut-off, now eight hours, to give a broader range of runners adequate time to finish.

The new Black Squirrel Half Marathon will begin and end at Soldier Canyon in Lory State Park on August 31, and like the Blue Sky Marathon is designed to appeal to new and experienced trail runners alike. The course is a fun, single loop around the park, and like all Gnar Runner events will conclude with a post-race BBQ. Registration will be capped at 350 runners.

A discount is available for the Blue Sky and Black Squirrel races for those who register for both at the same time. The early-bird registration fee for the Black and Blue Double is just $99.

We are especially pleased to announce that Colorado Physical Therapy Specialists is backing the Black and Blue Double as the top sponsor, and will be onsite after both races.