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!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bismarck Lake Lupine Landscape


(Thanks to Jeff Garland for the following photos and blog)

11 runners gathered for a pleasant 7.5 mile run thru the Aspen groves
to Bismark Lake!  Blue and purple Lupine, along with many other flowers, adorned
the high meadows -- adding to the already scenic views.  The lake turned out to
be dry, but worth the journey anyway.  On the return the group dodged bikers and
hikers all out taking advantage of the beautiful morning.

Many returned to Late for the Train to relax and regenerate.  All and all a
fabulous way to start the day!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Observatory Mesa Puddle Jumping

18 Northern Arizona Trail Runners head up Observatory Mesa, running an extra mile more than advertised! Throw in the puddle avoidance and it was a little over 9 miles, one of the farthest NATRA runs in years. While Observatory Tank had a little water left, the second tank was bare. However, the ground was super saturated and this proved to be the perfect training run for the August 9th Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff Half Marathon and 5K. (see the short YouTube clip below!)


 Avoiding the Urban Trail Hill!

 Cutting over to the Urban Trail on the Flagstaff Loop Trail.

 Joyous puddles!

 Clouds building over the Peaks as we returned from the meadow. 

Once all returned we rehydrated at the KickStand, many skipping coffee in favor of the daily special; frozen lemonade! Once again Ellie kept us all entertained with her cheery laughter! The run next week is cancelled in favor of the Hearts 911 Mount Elden Trail Race

 Ellie entertains all at the Kickstand.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Flagstaff's Four on Fourth Crowns First Two-Time Champ!

Randy Wilson and his daughter Caroline organized the 6th annual Flagstaff's Free Four on the Fourth run which brought out 53 participants. It was a picture perfect morning with a bit of cool drizzle at registration. Prior to the race on the Karen Cooper section of Flagstaff Urban Trail, runners congregate at the "FlagStaff" pole. See the Arizona Daily Sun's story about one of Flagstaff's iconic spots!

 Randy Wilson and daughter Caroline register runners in the rain.
Runners congregate at the "FlagStaff pole"

The event gives most age divisions a head start, so that the race comes down to the wire. It is tough to be young and fast in this race as the men's 18 to 29 division are considered scratch runners with no head start. To ensure no one short cuts the course, Flagstaff Walking guru Jack Welch staff's the halfway mark by putting an "x" on each runner's bib.

Janet inspires by going toe-to-toe with Flagstaff's young athletes! 

  The race's best dressed, fastest runner, and first two time champion! 

Known to attend or step into this fun run, Flagstaff's finest running and most inspiring cheerleader, Olympian Janet Cherobon-Bawcom became the race's first two time winner. This despite the race organizer invoking a new rule, "past champion's penalty," decreasing her head start by one minute . Evidently wearing the best costume and showing the most July 4th spirit, propelled her to victory by over a minute. In fact, Janet sped through the finish line to race downtown to see her friends race at the Team Run Flagstaff Downtown Mile, leaving her husband Jay to collect her winner's certificate! 

 Randy Wilson sends off the race's oldest ever participant, Tom Casey, 83 years young.

For the second straight year, Katie Landry took second place and the first 6 spots were all women! Tom Casey became our oldest finisher at 83 years young!  Congrats to all finishers many who then headed straight downtown to catch the Independence Day Parade! 
 The top ten proudly hold their finisher certificates; Jay Bawcom standing in for wife Janet!
The group shot!

Full Results posted!

Happy Independence Day!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Oldham "Solstice", Beale Wagon Road Run

16 Northern Arizona Trail Runners hit the infamous Oldham steps on the summer solstice. The hills never seemed to quit, but at least we were protected from the wind. I am happy to report that rumors of a mountain lion roaming the trails of Elden went unconfirmed, though I must admit I kept my eyes wide open.

 Trish nearing our turn off Rocky Ridge.

We welcomed Flagstaff's newest arrivals Trish and Tom. This was also Trish's first trail run ever and she was officially anointed a trail runner with her first fall! Way to go Trish! Apparently the trail took quite a toll on runners as Bruce waving hello to a friend cost him a sprained ankle.


On the back side of Elden, Trish and I stumbled upon a bit of early Flagstaff history; one of the Beale Wagon Road brass cap monuments that indicate the route of the first federally funded road. In 1857 congress funded Lieutenant Edward Beale to survey a 1240 mile route from Fort Smith Arkansas to the Colorado River across the 35th parallel, passing through Flagstaff. One of the more colorful parts to the story is that Beale employed camels to help him make the long passage across the arid Southwestern territories. While Beale seems to have embraced the camels, none of his survey party agreed.  By 1859, Beale and his crews completed the route, and it became and important route for settlers migrating west. It diminished in importance once the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad was completed in 1882, but the Beale Wagon Road was the forefather of the railroad, Route 66, and now Interstate 40. For more information, visit http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=491

After a grueling, dusty run, we all returned to the KickStand where Ellie kept us all entertained.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Return to Waterline

15 Northern Arizona Trail Runners ran, or really, were blown, up and down the Waterline Road. This was our first run since before the June 2010 Schultz Fire and more than half the group had never before run Waterline!

At the outset we were treated to our first ever group run sighting of a mama bear and her two cubs right before we got to the gate. We thought they might join us in our continuing search for rampaging rogue pandas, but they showed little interest in a social outing and ambled off into the Forest about 100 meters in front of us. Dang, phone cameras don't have very good zoom lenses.

A completely different landscape than our last run up Waterline, 5 years ago.
Waterline May 23, 2009
 Compare to above, striking contrast to today.

During the run, we were amazed at the post-Schultz Fire changes (almost exactly 4 years ago) and how different the run feels. The question used to be, "are we there yet?" (to the tunnel turn-around point). Well, post-fire, the volcanic dyke of the tunnel can now be seen from a mile a way, negating the age old question. In the past, while there were sweeping views from a handful of openings, now it is difficult to keep your eyes of the stunning cinder cone landscape vistas of east Flagstaff for the entire run.

Prior to the fire the dense Ponderosa pine and Douglass fir tree forest sheltered us from the winds. Unshielded, the wind tried its best to send runner's caps off to the Navajo Reservation.

Chillaxing before the furious downhill.(Sara Wagner photo)

Erin, Mackenzie, and Anika surprised us as we hit the tunnel.

After the fast downhill return, we replenished ourselves by packing the patio at the KickStand. Next week Lower Oldham/Rocky Ridge. Meet at Buffalo Park at 8 AM sharp!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Urban Trail Monster Hill Be Gone Run

The new connector trail on Observatory Mesa lands recently purchased by City of Flagstaff

11 NATRA runners planned to do the Flagstaff Loop Trail and as advertised practice the big hill for next Saturday's Sacred Mountain Prayer Run. However, word quickly spread about a new connector trail now bypasses the big hill. See Randy Wilson's Arizona Daily Sun Outdoors column for another description.

 Jim leads pack out of Thorpe Bark Park.
Urban Trail monster hill be gone!
Neil offered runners who were looking forward to tackling the monster hill double their money back. Alas there were no takers and we all enjoyed the gradual uphill climb through the meadow, running amongst ancient giant Ponderosa pines up to the Loop Trail. With the purchase of Observatory Mesa lands, this section of trail is a wonderful new addition for trail runners.

 Running amongst ancient Ponderosa pines and tall grasses.

We thought the trail served as a hypotenuse connector to the Loop Trail, so we decided to get a little extra work out and head up past the Museum of Northern Arizona, returning on the Fast and Furious FUTS trail along Highway 180 back to Thorpe. However, thanks to David Blanchard we later found out that the trail is not a short cut and we ran further than we thought.

 Thirsty, tired, and hungry, we packed the KickStand Coffee shop. Next week, Sacred Mountain Prayer Run! Hill included!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Into Thick Air: Bill Williams Mountain and the Effects of Blowing Smoke

(The following post was a collective effort by unnamed NATRA runners who may have inhaled too much smoke atop Bill Williams Mountain)
Disasters can have their dramatic moments. Such has been the case this week in northern Arizona. And while we can all breath a little easier figuratively, it was much harder to do so literally on Saturday when the intrepid NATRA crew took on Billy Willy for our annual craziness.

Seven runners headed west into an ever-deepening pall of smoke. There would have been eight of us, however, it was too early and dry for our erstwhile leader to have any excuse for stopping before mile marker two; hence he found another important event to attend on Saturday.

Not to worry; we just decided to talk about him instead of nuclear physics or nihilism. (I'm guessing the anonymous authors think they are punnier than their usual fearful leader, and they actually meant "Neilism," aka the following running philosophy.) This naturally brought up his usually very optimistic estimates of run distances. This "run", which gains about 2400' over the course of 3.5 miles was actually determined to be more like 5.5 neil's* in one direction, or about 9 neils, total.  Part of this was due to the thick smoke at the start of the run, although it got much better as we ascended out of the inversion layer. We all anticipated an awesome view from the top, as advertised, and yes, indeed it was!

Well, it might have been a little smokey. So here is an artist's conception of the summit:

Afterward, we headed into Williams Cafe 326, and smack dab into the start of the Williams parade.  Now that was fun!



Seeing Smokey always makes one's day, but especially on this one.

All-in-all, it was an adventuresome day!

Posted by: Anonymous**

* - 1 neil is approximately equal to 1 "feels-like" mile, plus some Kentucky windage, based upon the previous run in the same place.
** - No personally identifiable individuals wish to take credit for this dubious post.