About NATRA Blog

This page is meant for folks to post their thoughts on the Saturday group run. I (Neil) will post a blurb about who showed up and where it was held. From there, I hope that other runners will share their thoughts since we often have different experiences on the same run. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Arizona Trail Celebration Run

 16 NATRA runners (and 5 newbies!) who passed on Imogene Run, drowned their sorrows by celebrating the Arizona Trail with a grueling 7 mile run on the infamous steps of Oldham. We also made a photosphere of the run - check out this link - https://plus.google.com/+NeilWeintraub/posts/3UiCKEX5kRQ…

As we had to wait for the 10 AM party to start, Kelly's Bacon Oatmeal (and non-bacon) cookies replenished our carbos until the beer garden opened. Once again, Wanderlust Brewing Company provided several good reasons for drinking beer before noon and NATRA of course was first in line. There still time to make it out to Buffalo Park, so get out there before 2 PM!

With two major trail races the next two weekends, our next NATRA run is the 35th annual WAR DOG on Sunday October 4th. Visit http://www.natra.org and read all about it!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Having Your Cake and Eating it Too, Run

11 NATRA runners basked in a dreary, damp, northwest morning-like fiesta of Flagstaff Urban Trails, Arizona Trail, Loop Trail, and Kelly's scrumptious chocolate cayenne apple sauce cake. As overnight rains drenched Flagstaff, we noticed the Rio De Flag was alive at the start of the trail. We made our way east along the babbling brook until it hit the sewage treatment plant. We also admired the fabulous new Flagstaff Urban Trail signs! So cool and full of great information.

At that point the group split, some taking the high road (AZ Trail) while others took the lower road (a longer but flatter route by Hoffman Tank). While deciding where to run, Nick Hilton passed by us. We still had our wits about us and decided not to chase him!

As predicted the two groups reconvened at the junction of the Flagstaff Loop Trail and AZ Trail at nearly the same time. Not long after we hit the paved hills of Lone Tree Road. About 6.6 miles according to various watches.

Once back at the trailhead Kelly replenished our lost carbs with her to die for chocolate cayenne cake. Yes, and Bruce had his cake and ate it too. We returned to Wildflower and got excited for next Saturday's big Arizona Trail event at Buffalo Park at 10 AM. https://www.facebook.com/events/1030235177008265/ - To celebrate the Arizona Trail, NATRA will meet at 8 AM and run the Oldham-Rocky Ridge Loop, about 6.6 miles and then partake in the post run festivities in Buffalo Park. There will be great raffle prizes so bring some extra cash! Last year's event was a blast and there will be a beer garden! Post-run morning beer - perfect training for Soulstice Mountain Trail Run!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Old Town Flagstaff Run..Bar None

An amazing turnout of 24 runners for the 5.7 mile loop of Flagstaff Urban Trail on Observatory Mesa. We had 4 newbies, including a native New Yorker passing through Flag. Having avoided the good old Urban Trail hill on our last few Observatory Mesa runs, it seemed that the hill turned up its slope. Perhaps it was upset that we now often abandon it in favor of the much gentler loop connector trail. Either way, the hill was steeper and the 1.6 miles to the gate seemed longer.

Once we topped out at the gate it was a pretty fast run back to Lower Coconino, aka, Old Town Flagstaff. Yup, the original townsite is not where downtown is today, but just to the west off Lower Coconino Avenue. I brought along a mid-1880s photo that shows the bars along the main drag.

We then made a stop at Old Town Springs where there is a small park today with water dribbling out of the town's orginal watering hole. Evidently, it was never very reliable. Our resident springs expert Abe Springer recounted its history as captured in Platt Cline's They Came to the Mountain. "Old Man Ramsey used to spend the night drowsing beside it, holding a dipper to catch its dribble, pouring his catch into a bucket as its weight every so often awoke him." (P.127)

We even found some ghosts of Flagstaff's past who tried to re-create the historic photo in front of the bars.

As we returned to the pavement and modern day Flagstaff, the large NATRA crowd took over the streets of the historic neighborhood. We then packed the Kickstand and replenished our dehydrated bodies.

There will not be a run for the next two weeks as Machine Solutions 10/5K and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff Half Marathon/5K kick off the second half of the Run Flagstaff Summer Series. Registration is available at http://www.runflagstaff.com - and don't forget, today at 4 PM head down to Hops on Birch for the BBBSF fundraiser!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Skirting Walnuts and Bueberries

Despite another event full Flagstaff weekend, 16 NATRA runners with Kara's blueberry pancakes on their minds ran the Arizona Trail south along the edge of Walnut Canyon. Participants from Phoenix, Sedona, and Flagstaff wondered if the promised deluge of rain was only a false hope. Without the threat of rain, the run was picture perfect.

Usually the viewpoint overlooks are the highlight of this run, however, they were easily outdone by Kara's post-run breakfast blueberry pancake feast. With bellies full, the discussion went from Imogene Pass cut off times to imminent to Switzerland and Italy trips.

Foremost on my mind is the upcoming Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff Dave McKay Memorial Half Marathon which is only 3 weeks away (August 8th)! This is Arizona's second oldest (38 years running) half marathon which is always loaded with surprises. If you have not done so, register today at https://register.chronotrack.com/reg/form?eventID=11104! Next week's run will be to Railroad Springs. Meet at Thorpe Park Bark Park at 8 AM!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Soulstice Preview: A Chilling Summer Run


Was it Fall already? The weather guessers predicted a warm sunny day with the return of monsoons several days away. Greatly fooled, the 16 runners who arrived dressed for a hot summer run up the Sunset Trail questioned whether they had been transported to the often wintery starting line of October's Soulstice Mountain Trail Run (amazingly only 3 months away!). With the damp, chilly start to the summer, the wildflowers and mushrooms seemed about a month ahead of pace. Even the columbines were thriving.

After the tough 6 mile loop, thanks to CLIF, we enjoyed sampling their new line of organic energy food. Northern Arizona Trail Runners gave the thumbs up to all flavors including Pizza Margarita, Sweet Potato with Sea Salt, Banana Mango Coconut, and Banana, Beet with Ginger. ‪#‎RealFoodAthlete‬


Re-engerized, NATRA returned to the Kickstand for post-run coffee, the sun broke through the clouds, we sat outside, and it felt like summer had momentarily returned. Next week's run will be at the Arizona Trail trailhead off Old Walnut Canyon Road. We will run south on the Arizona Trail to the view points along Walnut Canyon. Afterwards we will head to Kara's house for a Blueberry Pancake breakfast!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Turning up the Heat on the Arizona Trail

I knew we were going to have a good turn out for today's run when Steve and Marielle asked to carpool from my house. As we arrived, the circle of runners had nearly filled the parkiing lot. With some already on the trail, and others a bit late, we had the 3rd highest group run ever! 31 runners celebrated the day before Solstice (not to be confused with the other one....) as temperatures soared to near record levels on the last day of what has been such a wet spring.

The aspen groves were still damp from the late Spring rains, and we even found pools of water in the side drainagages. Thanks to Abe Springer's keen eye, we even spied a rare Bebbs Willow that seemed to be thriving as a result of the thinning that has taken place on the slopes above the Nature Conservancy's Hart Prairie Preserve.

The trail teemed with wildlife with runners spotting a doe, a young elk, coyotes, a fox and the call of coyotes!

Most of the wildflowers were blue and purple with the wild irises most happy from the recent rains. Once at the turn around, several investigated Bismarck "Lake" which is usually dry this time of year, but not so in this anomalous spring.

Once back we all crammed into the Kickstand and laughed that the coffee shop really needs to add on the NATRA loft! Up next is the Vista Hospice Run for Life next Saturday! Register and learn about the race at http://www.northlandhospice.org/events/ ‪#‎flagstafftrailrunning‬ ‪#‎arizonatrailrunning‬

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Rain Forest Running in Williams, Arizona?

Normally I would never call this run in June. Fire danger is often extreme, and the Bill Williams Mountain watershed is always the first area the Kaibab National Forest closes to the public to reduce the risk of human caused forest fires. Not this June.

Ten NATRA runners began the slow 2400 foot ascent, most "yogging" by mile 0.2 miles. Yup, it was a shuffle of walking, jogging, and leaping over 13 downed trees to the top. Along the way, the dark conifter forest was still drenched from an overnight soaking. It felt more like we were in the middle of the northwest rain forest! I questioned whether we had entered another dimension in the Twilight Zone.
For the first time, (mostly because I have never made it to the top), the entire group completed the full round-trip of 8 miles in just over two hours.  We had plenty of fun climbing the lookout tower and enjoying the magnificent 360 degree views. The lookout tower also provided the perfect backdrop for the largest NATRA group selfie ever.

The fast and furious descent was reminiscent of scenes from Return of the Jedi where speeder bikes thrashed through the forest. A couple of encounters with downed trees and rocks did not result in exploding runners, just a few bruises.

While most of the run was quite cool, the sun was shining brightly on the last section of trail and many runners were parched. The solution of course was to pay a visit to Cafe 326 where iced drinks replenished the dehydrated runners. Next week meet at 7:40 AM at the base of Snowbowl Road and Highway 180 and we will run the Arizona Trail from Aspen Corner to Bismarck Lake, about 8 miles round trip. See ya there!