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, 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!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Return of El Nino

Conisdering El Nino has taken Flagstaff hostage for the third straight weekend, a surprising 22 NATRA runners (a new Waterline record) including 8 NATRA newbies basked in what may or may not be winter's last hurrah . As Waterline is now nearly void of trees due to the 2010 Schultz Fire, we were thankful for the chill in the air. At the same time last year we sizzled in the hot early summer sun.

(at home after the run, I found an old photo taken exactly 6 years ago today, under oddly, very similar conditions with 21 runners! Here is the blog from that day!

As I mostly ran alone, chilled to the bone, I could hardly believe that I had to get my act together organizing the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff Half Marathon, that is less than 10 weeks away. Which reminds me, if you have a second, please like and share the new bbbsf half page on facebook. I am hoping for record numbers and fundraising this year!

Once off the hill, we took over the Kickstand filling nearly every table. Next week's run is Schultz Creek Trail up to the Lincoln Logs, meet at the "Y" at 8 AM.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Change is Inevitable

 (Thanks to Bruce Higgins for the post and David Blanchard for sharing his photos)
A baker's dozen of brave humans plus two pooches gathered for a snowy Saturday run - only the find a beautiful, if breezy, morning awaiting!

Since the run was a change from the previously planned Schultz Creek out-&-back, we didn't hesitate to change it again from Oldham to McMillan Mesa loop. The changed out-&-back change included a relatively new segment of this trail on the Switzer Canyon edge that provides excellent views of Flagstaff and points west.

 Most ran this route for today, but a few ran a changed out-&-back changed loop change route instead.

Since the total mileage was fairly short, many added a changed put-&-back changed loop changed change to the end in Buffalo Park. Coffee & breakfast at The Kickstand followed. No one ordered Spam - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anwy2MPT5RE

 Next Saturday's run is our tradition Memorial Day venture to the Waterline Tunnel and back (about 6 miles). Meet at 7:40 AM at the "Y" at Schultz Creek to carpool up to the Schultz Tank Trailhead.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Tale of Two Runs

 Two Flagstaff runs located minutes apart could not have contrasted any more! While the low key Campbell Mesa NATRA run started at 8 AM with its 11 devotees, nearly 3000 runners and volunteers packed the Color Vibe run at Findlay Toyota.

This is the second year Color Vibe has handed out the Flagstaff Racing Event Calendar (to download visit http://www.natra.org and view latest news link) to their participants and they again allowed me to plug our local races on stage. This time the DJ fired up the already raucous crowd by having them chant my name and then having the endless sea of runners dance for my panoramic photo.

As my friend Merk Perelstein pointed out, Color Vibe is perhaps one of the best gateway drugs that running has ever seen. It gets non-runners to participate and hopefully we will see a few of them at our local benefit runs! Much thanks to race director Nate Sorenson for his support of our local events.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Seeing the Forest Though the Trees

9 NATRA runners and 2 pooches thought they had been transported to the northwest coast. The bone chilling spring drizzle made the rocky Sycamore Rim Trail that much more challenging. Once we regrouped at the Sycamore Vista overlook, we decided to make the loop following Forest Road 56. We ran through a very recent forest thinning project that had given the forest a new haircut that will make it far more resilient against destructive wildfires. The animals seemed to approve as the deer and antelope played in the new openings.....Once back at the trailhead, runners filled their bottles with Dow Springs water and we satisfied our coffee drinking addiction at Wildflower. Next week Campbell Mesa 8 AM sharp!

 Natraneil, Natradavid, and Natraoso

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Getting Ash Kicked on Route 66

10 NATRA runners and two pooches ran west on the 1931 Abandoned Route 66 alignment on Ash Fork Hill and returned uphill via the 1922 Old Trails Highway. (The Kaibab National Forest listed this section on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989 - http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/route66/arizona_road_segments.html)

As often as we have often done this adventure run, I was amazed that 8 of the 10 runners had never done so! As we trudged up the dirt road parallelling I-40, we may have been faster than the uphill semis. We wondered what the truckers thought as our group ran next to them in the woods.

To learn more about Route 66 history, visit http://flagstafftrailrunning.blogspot.com/2012/03/getting-our-butts-kicked-on-route-66.html

With 6 miles of the Mother Road in our pocket, we returned to Williams where we packed good old Cafe 326. I'm pretty sure due to the tiring hot run, everyone had Iced Coffee.

See David Blanchard's photos from 2012 for more info - http://www.dblanchard.net/blog/2012/03/get-your-running-kicks-on-route-66/ and read http://azdailysun.com/sports/running/get-your-butt-kicked-on-route/article_eeb6ae15-989b-51bf-9a0f-eae80dcc5834.html