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, 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.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Arizona Trail "Gription"

Six runners arrived at the starting point on Old Walnut Canyon Road to run on the Arizona Trail. It has become a NATRA tradition to alternate between running north and running south from this point--and this time was north. Todays runners (Mark, Anne, Betsy, Daniel, Susan, David) were amused that the turnout was from the "middle-and-back-of-the-pack" NATRA runners.

The trail was damp from recent rains and resulted in excellent gription (you know, grip and friction!). On the flip side, there has been some erosion of the trail from the rain and it may need some trail work in the future. At the crossing of the Walnut Canyon paved road, four of us turned back while Mark and Anne continued on to the I-40 underpass. Keep up the good work on the Imogene training, Anne!

The after-run breakfast/coffee was held at Wildflower Bread Company with Betsy, Susan, and David. The restaurant was crowded with walkers who had finished the "Climb to Conquer Cancer" walk on Snowbowl Road. Congratulations and thank you! (Thanks to David Blanchard for the post and Betsy Mennell for leading the run and photos.)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Musings on Lucky 13th Year Directing BBBSF Half/Walk/5K Fun Run

Today I'm feeling more proud than usual about the race I directed yesterday with our Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff Board.  I do not think the event could have gone more smoothly. This was clearly the lucky 13th time.

I cannot remember so many people telling me how they smashed their course PR. There were definitely more smiles crossing the finish line, and I would know, having taken thousands of finish line photos over the past decade. Our Facebook insights of shares, comments, and likes is sky rocketing today and by tomorrow should exceed 20,000 served.

What made this race go so smoothly? More than 75 volunteers who put their heart and soul into the race. While the planning for this event goes on year round for me, the last 72 hours are when it all magically comes together; thought some of you would appreciate what goes on behind the scenes:

Thursday 3-6 PM :   80 runners picked up their bibs, far greater than I expected; mom, Adam, and I were thrilled.

6:30 PM: BBBSF Board barbecue near mile 7, just below the last big hill up to A1 Mountain. Bill Shaler smoked ribs and a roast and we had about 25 board and office worker attend, our best pre-race party to date.

Friday 9 AM-1 PM: course crew gathers with pickup trucks and quads at Chip Ogden's plumbing shop near downtown. I buy the Dog Haus breakfast burritos, we wolf them down, chase them with the first frosty beverage of the day, load up the course marking materials, and head up on Observatory Mesa to carefully put arrows in the right direction. This can be a challenge if you forget which way the runners are heading, when you are driving in the opposite direction. After about 3 hours we drive back across the course, critiquing/poking fun at each others arrows. At the same time, the office sends the Big Brothers Big Sisters truck around town to collecting all the food, water, and gatorade.

4-8:30 PM: Ensure Porta-Potties delivered in right place; Course crew become Italian chefs to cook the pasta ready for packet pick up at 6:30 PM, ready to serve 250 hungry participants. Of course dozens of runners still show up an hour early expecting their bibs to be ready, so I am there gladly reducing one runner at a time before dinner is ready. At 8:15 we load up the truck, with all the supplies, and of course there are always the stragglers who need to pick up their bibs. I oblige and cut it off at 8:30 PM.

9 PM to 11 PM. Charge up both timing machines. Load up civic with registration boxes. Get all awards in back of car.

11 AM to 3 AM: Sleep interrupted by "what am I forgetting?" This time it was the safety vests - go to garage, trip over cat who thinks its time to eat. Shut up Colby.

Saturday, Race Day, 3 AM: Sleep is over-rated. Double check all items loaded in car. Make sure SD card is in camera and not in computer.

4 AM-7 AM: Course crew goes back over the course ensuring nobody has messed with the markings as has happened in past and they set up aid station tables.Position volunteers at aid station.

5 AM-7AM: Run Flagstaff and I set up timing and finish line area; Barricades arrive; Walkers go off at 6 AM, race day registration; Ambulance and Sunny 100 takes their position; Jim Driscoll and I meet with volunteer road guards who will help with traffic control on the downtown streets.

7:30 AM-11 AM: And the race is on! This year my best man David McKee was not feeling well, leaving the door open for me to jump into the Kid's Dash. Finally, I get to participate in one of my events. Dang those kids were out for blood.  While I finished dead last, I still beat David's PR.

11 AM to 11:30 AM: Post photos to Facebook and Picasa for downloading and sharing.

11:30 to 12 PM: Pour over results and make sure no glaring errors, like the walker who did not get switched from half marathon to walker event. Easy catch since I knew the runner.

12 PM to 2 PM: Awards ceremony at Charly's Pub and Grill. Cider tastes soooo good. Thanks to Matt Bial for hosting the great party venue.

2 PM to 5 PM: Pass out.

5 PM; Diana and I order a Pizza. Yum.

8:30 PM: Pass out.Sleep throughout night.

Sunday: Well here I am writing this and compiling ideas/improvements for next year's race. Here we go again. Number 14. August 8th. Mark your calendars.

And of course it goes without saying, next on my plate is Soulstice which along with its usual snows will be here sooner than you think.

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.