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!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Trail Run across the Ages

17 runners were treated to an interpretive tour of the Rio De Flag's Picture Canyon. Led by David McKee, runners scrambled around monitoring 1000 year old petroglyphs, waterfalls, and restored stream channels that have come back to life as a result of decades of restoration work by the Picture Canyon Working group. To take an amazing virtual tour of the petroglyphs, check out Robert Mark's gigapan photo.  In all we covered about 7 miles which in the cinders seemed all uphill. Afterwards many warmed up with coffee and treats at Wildflower Bakery. To learn more about the decade long effort to save Picture Canyon, visit http://flagstafftrailrunning.blogspot.com/2011/11/picture-canyon-time-line.html

Channel Restoration: Where once there were invasive species, native grasses have repopulated their home.

David McKee explains the challenges of the bridge over the Rio that the water released from Wildcat treatment plant is A+ quality, or the same as the water quality in San Diego.

Runners monitor condition of 1000 year old Sinagua petroglyphs. 

A big hug celebrating Tzeidle's new title....Dr. Wasserman! 

True Dat!  Celia Barotz loudly supported the city of Flagstaff's purchase of Picture Canyon and true to the statement on David's shirt, she was re-elected to another term on City Council. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Arizona Trail North

Ten NATRA runners enjoyed perfect fall conditions and light breezes to head north on the Arizona Trail towards I-40. The peaks were magnificent in the late fall early morning light, but did not help illuminate the rocks that many caught themselves stumbling on. By the end all survived, a bit bruised and recovered at Wildflower for breakfast. With the lengthening shadows we decided to move next week's start time to 9 AM at the Sandy Seep Trailhead. We will run to Picture Canyon and back!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Eat My Aspen Dust

Ten NATRA runners and Baxter set out on the Arizona Trail at 9000 feet with a strong tail wind pushing them towards Bismarck Lake. As most of the aspen leaves had fallen, the trail through many of the groves was well padded with pulverized aspen dust. We enjoyed views of the Grand Canyon now that the Hart Prairie Meadow Restoration project has helped open up the grand views. After battling the chilly winds on the return trip, all warmed up at the Kickstand. Bring on winter! Next week Arizona Trail off Old Walnut Canyon Road. We will choose which way to run depending on the winds....bring on the snow!

Early morning light.

 Though some saw the Heart Prairie Meadow Restoration as a clear cut, that was not the case. As a result of historic overgrazing and fire suppression, trees encroached upon Hart Prairie, with devastating effects to water sources and the rare Bebb's Willows growing in the Prairie. See the above historic photo for the striking evidence.

The cutting has also created dramatic views from the trail and heading north, you get a beautiful view of the Grand Canyon.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Why Did the Tarantula Cross the Trail?

With the trail racing season finally behind us, we had 15 runners hit the Campbell Mesa outer loop. We might have had more, but some may have been discouraged as a result of yesterday's "snowed under" post. While most of the group was feeling spry, Neil took his time and found out the answer to "Why did the tarantula cross the trail?" Abe later pointed out that he was just trying to hook up with a female. After a 5 minute photo shoot with the tarantula, Neil arrived back a the parking lot to find everyone awaiting his safe return. We rehydrated at Wildflower Bread Company as Ellie kept us all entertained. Next week, Aspen Corner and the Arizona Trail to Bismarck Lake!


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Urban Trail Fall Foliage

 David dressed for fall.

While it was a small turnout for our annual post-Soulstice Saturday group run, the Neil, Rob, Chris, David, and Bruce immersed themselves in the magical fall foliage along the Flagstaff Urban Trail System and the Flagstaff Loop Trail. Afterwards the gang hit the kickstand where they encountered Mackenzie and Clare who had done the exact same run 30 minutes earlier. Next week Campbell Mesa!

 Neil running through aspen just north of ditch pool.

 David's shirt matched the stunning red foliage by the ditch pool.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Soulstice Thanks

(I had taken a hiatus from the blog due to a hectic work schedule leading up to Soulstice. I just happened to notice that this post will be the 300th blog about Flagstaff Trail Running. )

My 13th year of directing the Soulstice Mountain Trail run proved to be the luckiest and most pleasant yet. (See Myles Schrag's Arizona Daily Sun coverage for a complete recap of the run.)

 (Martos Hoffman photo)

Behind the scenes, I organized Soulstice quite a bit differently this year. As most of you know, I followed Imogene Pass Run’s no refund/no exchange/transfer policy.   As every year exchanges and transfers increased, my already limited free time vanished. This coincided with a busy field season at work right up until race day. Since I don’t pay myself a dime, simplifying Soulstice reached critical levels. (See Myles Schrag's Arizona Daily Sun column for more) While I heard some grumblings second hand, those didn’t bother me. A simplified Soulstice meant less stress for me, a higher quality event, and Mother Nature obviously did her best to ensure that as well.

 (NATRA photo)
On Friday, thanks to Mark James, Kara Tate, and John Lowe for taking the time to help me flag and flour the course sans blizzard conditions for the first time in three years. Mark and Kara insisted they would volunteer on race day, but after seeing how beautiful the course was, Kara and Mark’s competitive juices kicked into high gear and it was great to see them crossing the finish line.

 (Photo by Josh Biggs)

Friday evening, the re-designed Pay n’ Take windows worked out quite well for packet pick-up. David, Diana, Oso, and I no longer have to freeze our butts off outside. Well, Oso wouldn’t care with his heavy coat.  Since I reduced packet pick up to 3 hours rather than 4, we had bigger rush than ever and thanks to Danielle Fazio for saving our hides by stepping up to the plate.

(NATRA photo)
(Cameron Clark photo)
 (Cameron Clark photo)
On race day, Coconino Amateur Radio Club has always been our stellar communication support system – they always seem to do whatever they do without a hitch so I never really paid attention to their process. This year I met beforehand with Robert Meadowcroft and gained much appreciated insights. Once again I'm grateful that the Coconino County Sheriff’s Department controlled traffic at the start of the race on the busiest leaf peeping Saturday in years. And of course thanks to the Coconino National Forest  who continues to permit Soulstice on the Dry Lake Hills trail systems.


(Martos Hoffman photos above)

Another key component to the event is the volunteers who year after year show up to do the aid stations atop Sunset and Old Weatherford Trail. Steve Pulos battered his Toyota pickup one more time to ensure the safety of long course runners. Atop Sunset, Batman (Coconino County Supervisor Matt Ryan) and Aaron Devine’s NAU Parks and Recreation Management class hiked the early morning hours with the 10 gallons of water and 4 gallons of Gatorade to Sunset aid station. In addition, this year, a handful of students swept the last 4 miles of the course so that I did not have to clean it up on the Monday holiday.
 (Bret Sarnquist photo)

And of course thanks to Jay Carnes and Scott Miller for the great Pay n’ Take party, hot dogs, fixings and salty treats, Biff’s Bagels for the post-race carbs, David McKee for his always amazing art work on the shirt, medals and poster, and of course you the runners, who always bring so much energy on race day.

(NATRA photo)

(NATRA photo) 

We had chip timing donated by Run Flagstaff, and while we couldn’t post live due to a weak signal, the results were posted correctly around 12 PM, by the time most runners got off the Mountain. As a result, I did not have to spend hours after the race sorting and printing results. Thanks to our back up timers, Alan and Theresa Dowell, and Todd and Stacey Cislo for doing such a stellar job that I was able to get through the awards with greater accuracy than any other year with only two errors in the manual standings. Mark Thurston took 1st place in Mens 50-59 and Susan Spinelli took 3rd in Women’s 50-59. Unofficial results are at http://results.chronotrack.com/event/results/event/event-6823?lc=en

(John Lowe photo)

At the last second, we ended up with an amazing cadre of photographers randomly on the course. I think they captured almost every angle of Soulstice. Thank you Cameron Clark of Cameron and Kelly Studios (http:cameronkellystudio.com) for grabbing my camera and capturing the start while I yelled at runners letting them know the race was starting at 8 AM with or without them. Photos by me, John Lowe, and Cameron Clark can be downloaded at https://picasaweb.google.com/112827349870389023562/Soulstice_2014?authkey=Gv1sRgCMSRtI6w5eCZdA; Martos Hoffman took fabulous photos near the top of Sunset at http://www.martoshoffmanimages.com/stock-images/soulsticerace2014; Bret Sarnquist ran all over the course with his photos posted at https://picasaweb.google.com/116731474404317696747/SoulsticeRun2014?authkey=Gv1sRgCIzNrIju_pOXpAE; and Ginny and Josh Biggs have their photo album at https://picasaweb.google.com/112827349870389023562/Biggs_soulstice?authkey=Gv1sRgCPWU8_6WuajbMw – As always, please credit these photographers if you repost or share.

 (Bret Sarnquist photo)
 (Bret Sarnquist photo)
Soulstice is all about our community and in my case helping raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff. As a board member, a Big in their Williams School Based mentoring program, and director of their epic Half Marathon for the past 13 years, it means the world to me to raise nearly $5000 on behalf of the agency. Thanks to Jerry Mclaughlin and Dave Barnett at Aspen Sports for their amazing raffle  that raised nearly $1600 and to Steve Rhode for emceeing.

We definitely missed having race co-founder and sponsor Paul Brinkmann at Soulstice. He had a good excuse, breaking 12 hours at World Ironman Championships in Kona. Paul was with us in spirit, donning his Soulstice cap across the finish line. Congrats Paul!
(Bret Sarnquist photo)
 (Bret Sarnquist photo)
In keeping with tradition, Knights of the Soulstice Round Table gathered and kicked around ideas for next year without judgement in front of the benevolent race dictator. The one motion that passed unanimously, was to drop the price of the long course next year to $60 with the short course holding steady at $75. And so it is written.

(NATRA photo)

Finally, thanks to all of the runners who brought so much energy and spirit to this race – that is really what made it so special for me. Registration for Soulstice opens January 1, 2015 with the lottery again on April 1st. Hope to see many of you next year for the 16th running.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

On Top of the World: Well, Kendrick Mountain Anyway.

14 NATRA runners, many Kendrick Trail newbies were treated to the finest weather we've had for this annual end of August climb. At least half the group geared up for their last ascent before next weekend's annual Flagstaff exodus for the Imogene Pass Run.

Neil got side tracked per his mushroom hunt. While he was in search of boletes the rest of the gang made 3000 foot ascent to the top and back. At the top, it seemed that the gang could see forever. 9 miles round trip.

 Neil's crazy eyes when he finds a bolete. 

The thundering pain of burning calf and thigh muscles could be heard during the Late for the Train post run coffee hour. Ouch. Thanks to Ron Volbrecht for the photos from the top. The usual photographer didn't make it that far thanks to his fungal foray.