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, December 25, 2010

Buffalo Park Christmas Loop



Today's Christmas Day group run (and the last group run of 2010) had a surprisingly large turnout with 14 runners and for the first time in recent history, no dogs! Even Santa and a Soulstice jester showed up! Susan must have put something extra in David Blanchard's breakfast as he bolted out with the lead group. No sooner than had we tried to see where the lead group had disappeared, they ambushed us with snowballs at the 1 3/4 mile marker. Luckily Bruce, Sabrina and David had pushed too hard in the foggy, icy conditions as their throws completely missed their intended targets. After we finished the short jog around Buffalo Park, we noticed that David McKee had arrived and was somewhere in the vicinity. Watch the end of the video as David had a special message for all. Download Cory Sheeley's photos!Cheers to all, Neil

Saturday, December 18, 2010



A great day for a snowy run on the Fort Valley Trail System. Dogs Annika, Josie, Wiatt and Skylar accompanied Tony, Neil, Sabrina, Tobin, Chris, Janie, Matt, Gail, Bruce and Mackenzie. We started out in a light snowy drizzle with a crusty, wet inch coating the ground. Once we got above 7500 feet the snow depth quickly reached our ankles and the run became quite challenging. Bruce, Tobin and Chris made it all the way up to the pipeline they encountered a foot of snow! On the way back, Tony led several runners across a short cut over a fallen ponderosa that was a bit too slippery for some (see video). We happily warmed up with coffees and teas at the Seasoned Kitchen.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I Heart Huckaby!


16 runners, Petzl and Skylar ran the always beautiful Huckaby Trail down to Oak Creek. It was a picture perfect Sedona day with thermometer on the rise throughout the run. There were more newbies on the run than ever with Tony, Angela and Margot from Sedona, their visiting friend from Boston, and Brett and Bridget from Flagstaff. We then enjoyed basking in the sun at New Fontiers enjoying coffees, juices and Brett's almond, pinyon, cashew, macadamia nut butter spread!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Observatory Mesa

Fifteen runners (16? 17?) showed up for a run to the top of Observatory Mesa along the Mars Hill Trail. This is a trail with a tough uphill start but levels out after about 3/4 mile or so. This first section was doubly challenging because it was snow packed and icy in spots -- but far less snow than last years run (12/12/2009). At the end of the trail, we split up with the one group following a route similar to the BBBS half marathon, another heading out towards the A-1 mountain loop, and the rest heading south along the Tunnel Springs Trail. This section was mostly clear of snow and dry since it faces south.

Unlike the "Ninja Runners" of a few weeks ago (11/06/2010), we didn't all arrive back at the starting point at the same time. No matter -- everyone had a good day and we regrouped at the Seasoned Kitchen for coffee and some of Bretts fabulous brownies. (Thanks to David Blanchard for the post)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Beaver Creek/Parents Weekend



Both Janie and Heather's parents joined 13 runners and headed up to the Beaver Creek pools. While the day started out chilly in Flagstaff, it was very pleasant in the friendly confines of Beaver Creek. Tony, Chris and I all wondered if our calves would create problems. For me, this is the run where my calf muscles snapped last year, leading to a frustrating year of running. Luckily, we all survived.

No one was brave enough to take the Beaver Creek polar bear challenge, so we just let the dogs show us up (photos posted above are from last year's run). Heather's dad successfully negotiated the rocky trails, feeling much more at home than on previous visits. We all returned to Tony's for coffee and teas and enjoyed watching the holiday shoppers bustle through the Seasoned Kitchen.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Predictor Run

Greg, Alexis & Mike, Margaret and Bruce met on a very cold & windy morning to run from Flag Middle School up to the annual Thanksgiving Turkey Trot at Buffalo Park. Along the way, since Neil didn't show up, they stopped and POUNDED on his door before proceeding. Now, we hear Neil wasn't there, but someone was. Is that someone mad at us or Neil?

The turkey trot had scads of brave runners. Many of us apparently finished much faster than our predicted times. (Numb faces will do that.) Alexis' and Margaret's maternal instincts took over when they caught up with a little boy who went out too fast and was upset; finishing with him in a little under 20 minutes. None of us were close to winning and it was COLD, so everyone jogged home for their various, awesome Thanksgiving celebrations.(Thanks to Bruce Higgins for the post, and yes, Diana did hear the knocking at 9 AM, but she thought it was a dream - until now of course!)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

AZ Trail - Picture Canyon Section



Anne, Neil, David M, Heather, Bob the dog, David B, Susan B, Tony, Sabrina, Mark and Jennifer, Randi, Joel, and Aaron set out to enjoy a romp on the Arizona Trail. It was nearly a repeat of last year's run (the pictures above are from last year's run) as the first winter storm of the year brewed to the west. The winds slammed us heading down the trail, and we hoped this would help propel us back up the hill.

David and Neil led the runners on a tour of the petroglyphs and restored natural channel along the Rio De Flag. Although many of the runners were long time Flagstaff residents, few had ever seen Picture Canyon and all were amazed at the waterfalls, restored channel, and ancient petroglyphs of this hidden canyon in their backyards.

The plan was to run a bit longer at this point, however, the bridge across the Rio had been removed since the restoration of the natural channel. As David M tried to guide us across on the wooden boards, he fell knee deep into the cold stream and we decided it would be better to take a longer tour of the canyon.

It was a little more than 5 years ago that NATRA helped sponsor "Make a Difference Day" when 60 volunteers cleaned up the trash filled canyon. Thanks to the efforts of many partners, this jewel of Flagstaff will hopefully be preserved for generations to come. The runners, helped along by the tail wind returned to the Seasoned Kitchen and enjoyed Tony's agave sweetened cafe lates.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sandy Canyon to Fisher Point

18 runners (including two new faces) and 5 dogs headed out on a crisp,
bright day to Fisher Point and back. Along the way, we also encountered
a 19th, who was on her way back from an 8 AM start. Wyatt found an elk
leg to carry most of the way. Many of us headed to Tony's afterward.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Soldiers Trail, Fort Tuthill



(Summary and Photos from Bruce Higgins)David & Susan, Eric & Janie, Tony, Sabrina, Brett, Mackenzie, Bruce, Annika & Skyler met for the Old Soldiers Trail run on a beautiful, balmy morning. The awesomeness of Sabrina, Eric & Brett, who ran to the run from Flagstaff, can't be overstated.

And it was a run of ninjas; all started out together, with various
warriors disappearing, only to mysteriously reappear later down the
path. At least five different routes were run, but who can count these
stealthy transients of the trail?

Apr├ęs-run was at Tony's Seasoned Kitchen.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Walnut Canyon, Arizona Trail (North)

On a blustery, pre-Halloween Saturday, 15 runners made their way north to the open grasslands between Walnut Canyon and I-40. The run was pretty easy going out as the downhill portion had tailwind that provided an extra push. As we got out of the ponderosas, gale force winds kicked up providing a challenging climb back to the parking lot. As I had stopped to walk enjoying the some quiet alone time, David McKee did his best lets sneak up behind Neil and scare the crap out of him, pre-Halloween prank. Needless to say, David was pretty proud of himself.

While taking a break and chatting with Sabrina, a tarantula jumped us on the trail. We eventually made it back to the trail head with no more Halloween scares and enjoyed coffee and fruit cups at the Campus Coffee Bean and discussed the best way for Sabrina to run from Flagstaff to Sedona entirely off pavement.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

FUTS Foxglenn Trail Day



While most NATRA runners enjoyed the aforementioned jaunt through Parks, David Mckee, Jasper and I helped organize roday's Make A Difference Day along the Flagstaff Urban Trail near Foxglenn Park.

Helping sponsor the event was a no-brainer. Shortly after I moved to Flagstaff in 1986, I (along with most others), voted in favor of the proposition that implemented the Bed Board and Booze Tax. The BBB tax kicked off the vibrant restoration of Downtown and created the Flagstaff Urban Trail System. More than 20 years and 50 miles later, NATRA is proud to contribute funding and resources to what we believe to be one of the finest networks of urban trails in the country.

With Martin Ince and Jack Welch leading the effort, all the pieces fell into place for a perfect day! This also marked the 5 year anniversary of NATRA's first Make a Difference Day when we sponsored the inaugural restoration/clean up of Picture Canyon.

Thanks to Fratellis Pizza, NATRA sponsored lunch for 60 volunteers. Friends of Flagstaff’s Future, Habitat Harmony, Sierra Club, Flagstaff Area Stream Team, Flagstaff Metropolitan Planning Organization, Friends of the Rio de Flag, Boy Scout Troop 31, Girl Scout Troop 363, Coconino Rural Environmental Corps, Northern Arizona Trail Runners Association, Americorps and Flagstaff Native Plant and Seed partnered to provide 300 hours of volunteer labor and supplies to pick up trash, plant native grasses, install a limestone sundial, remove fences and barbed wire, and plant trees along this section of FUTS.

Cheers to all volunteers that made today happen!

A Jaunt through the Kaibab near Parks



On a spectacularly dreary, wet fall day, several NATRA runners headed off to Parks, Arizona to be treated to a run through the Kaibab National Forest. Bruce, Sabrina, Brett, David, Susan, and Daryl started the run with potentially challenging weather -- cool, overcast skies, and a few drizzle drops -- and ended the run with comfortable temperatures and partly sunny skies. The run traversed some single-track trails and Forest Service roads in Parks near Daryls house. Nothing too challenging about this run with only some minor hills. The challenge came afterwards, as Daryl provided breakfast with coffee, eggs, and homemade donuts (and donut holes, of course). My, my, those were tasty donuts! (Thanks to David Blanchard for the report and the above photos).

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Oh those Oldham Steps

On a brilliant fall morning following last week's Soulstice race, 14 runners came out for a jaunt up the infamous Oldham steps. I was encouraged to see new faces at the run and even a visitor from Seattle, Washington!

The first Saturday run following Soulstice always feels like a New Year's Day to me. With the end of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Flagstaff Summer Running Series, Salomon Flagstaff Mountain Trail Series, Big Brothers Big Sisters Half Marathon and finally Soulstice, I can run without having to think too much about organizing the next event. Well, at least for a couple months before planning the 2011 racing season!

The run started out well enough for me, but just as I began chatting with Sara Wagner at mile 1, (the beginning of the first steep "step") a little nagging pull in my calf reminded me it was time to just walk. So after catching up with the 4 time winner of Soulstice, I shortened my trip to the Monday night run loop.

As fall has finally set in this week, the golden oaks and aspens reminded me why I have loved this run for 24 years. The Oldham trails were my evening runs when I lived at the door step of Buffalo Park between 1988 and 1993. Even back then, the steps always bested me. There is no doubt in my mind the STEPS have been getting tougher and steeper ever since then. Never mind age. However, I have found a way to beat the hills and that is by walking. It actually does not take much longer and even with my aching calf, I could hear runners just ahead of me, even if I could not see them.

Returning to the entrance I did not have to wait long for the rest of the group to return. They had run a couple of more miles than I had walked, and we all headed to the busiest Fort Valley Late for the Train I've ever seen. There is only one explanation, and it is a good one - head up to Hart Prairie or any golden aspen stand and you will see why!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

11th Running of Soulstice



One of the most gorgeous days of Soulstice ever. Great friends, runners from across the country, lots of PRs and tons of prizes from all of our generous sponsors!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

War Dog Photos by Claire Nyce



The photos keep rolling in from War Dog! Here are the latest shots from Claire Nyce!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

War Dog!



About twenty runners and 7 "newbies" met at Schultz Tank and ran the 30th Annual War Dog. With a quick War Dog Howl runners headed up into the Wilderness. As I once again pulled a calf muscle I failed to even make it to the Weatherford/Kachina cut-off. If anyone has more to report, please let me know. The aspen were just beginning to turn and next weekend's Soulstice race should have beautiful foliage.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Aspen Corner, Arizona Trail



As Waterline Road is closed for the foreseeable future, we ran north from Aspen Corner off Snowbowl Road on the Arizona Trail. It was still a gorgeous morning for a run with a chill in the air, the only reminder that fall is here. Well, that and Sabrina's 80s ankle warmers (see slide show). After running for a mile we laughed at the 670 miles to Mexico and 190 miles to Utah border signs. We can report that not a single leaf had turned yellow at this point, despite the endless groves of Aspens. Also missing were the abundant mushrooms of late summer. So most of us actually ended up running the full 7 miles. Most had never run this segment of trail and were very impressed. Afterwards we all filled up Late for the Train on Fort Valley Road and lots of folks had the Flagstaff Marathon and Soulstice on their minds.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Walnut Canyon, Arizona Trail

Given that it was Imogene weekend with most of NATRA running 17.1 miles from Ouray, Co to Telluride over the 13,114 foot Imogene Pass, we had a respectable turnout of 7 runners. Neil, David, Susan, Daryl, Sabrina, Elizabeth and newcomer Marci had a picture perfect fall morning to run along the edge of Walnut Canyon. David and Neil marveled at the most recent trail construction that has eliminated a very rough, eroded portion of the route. David thinks he might even be able to mountain bike the trail without dismounting! There was not a wisp of a cloud or even a breeze. A pocket of chilly air refreshed us at the bottom of the canyon, before taking very deep breaths to get us back up to the trails to the view points. At the end of the run we returned to enjoy the Campus Coffee Bean. We surprised the staff by nearly cleaning them out of their fresh fruit bowls. It is good to be back, and exactly one month until Soulstice. Check out the Imogene Pass Run results!. Congrats to all Flagstaff runners!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Kauai Half Marathon



After nearly a decade of directing races vs. running them, I could not keep myself from entering the Kauai Half Marathon on September 5th. The race started and finished just steps from our hotel door and it turned out to be such a blast, despite running the last 10 miles with a torn calf. I can be seen at the start of the race in the center of the video in my Salomon blue tank top at 22 seconds in. Given that I had not trained a lick this summer, picking more mushrooms than miles, my 2:06.53 placed me 268th out of 936 runners. Not too shabby as the race is considered extremely difficult due to the high humidity! Post-race walking for two days was a chore, but an event in paradise that I would definitely run again!


Most amazing finish line setting ever!



Diana helps me find the beer tent!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

BCBS Summer Series Fratelli's Picnic



Nearly 100 runners celebrated the Series award winners on a blustery fall like day. Many of our TransRockies heroes - Mark Thurston, Andreas Santiago and Eric Bohn made a showing fresh from their epic races. Fratelli's pizza, wings and salad was enjoyed by all. After the Aspen Sports Raffle, a new series tradition began, the Flagstaff Trivia raffle. Audience members made up questions and Neil gave away the prizes at an alarmingly slow rate! Congrats to all runners and we are looking forward to next year already!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Kendrick Mountain Trail



An impressive showing of NATRA runners as they head up Kendrick Mountain into the London Fog. Chad, Neil, Bob, David, Mark, Joel, Jen, Darcy, Steve, Dara, Heather, Sarah, Don and Zack started out in the parking lot a bit late as the mushroom hunters in the crowd inspected every bolete that surrounded the parking area.

As they made their ascent, runners encountered a thick fog at 2 miles up, leaving many chilled to the bone. Was this August? Much of the conversation focused on the outstanding performance by our friends at TransRockies. As the elevation increased, the visibility reduced to no more than 30 yards. It was even more difficult to follow the trail as the myriad of wildflowers choked the narrow path.

At the top, runners made their way either to the cabin or the tower, but did not stick around long as they needed to warm themselves by bombing downhill, dodging the throngs of hikers heading up. Back at the parking lot, Mark, Neil and Jen gathered as many boletes as they could hold. At the end of the run, the Hopi Drive gang enjoyed the wild mushrooms grilled in olive oil and salt with peppered bacon, hatch green chile and egg toppings. They of coursed washed it all down with Red Hook ESB. Another perfect Saturday morning NATRA run!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Trans Rockies Updates!

Flagstaff runners are again near the top of the leader boards at Trans Rockies! Sara Wagner/Adam Chase, Eric Bohn/Jason Wolfe, Chris Purslow/Brian Tinder and Mark Thurston/Andres Santiago are all in contending positions in their divisions! Stay updated by visiting the Trans Rockies Web page .

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sunset Trail and Fungi hunting



A lovely morning and not too shabby a turn out for a busy weekend in Flag considering most are either climbing the mountain to conquer cancer or are off at Trans Rockies. Even still Neil, David M., Kate, Craig, Glen, Kara, Joel and Randi found their way up Schultz Road on a gorgeous August morning. As soon as I bolted out behind Joel, I spied several Caesar Amanitas and a number of other large gilled mushrooms and knew right away, this run would be short-lived for me. As I noticed my first King Bolete, I stopped in my tracks (conveniently the hill ahead would have taken care of my forward motion, but we will say it was one of the largest, finest edible mushrooms that did me in). Once finding the prized King, I was on my hunt for more. Hitting the switchbacks of Sunset proved fruitful. With one hand holding on to 3 prized gems, I decided, running was too dangerous. Right then, I caught up to Summer Series runner Peter Price. When his hiking partner saw me barely able to hold my mushrooms, she pointed out that in England, collectors used "skirts". She then showed me how to pull up my running tank and use it as a skirt to hold the mushrooms. Well, didn't quite work out for me and I still had one free hand for more mushrooms. The return did not disappoint. As I went downhill, I had missed a bunch of monster boletes near the Sunset Trailhead.



As I approached the parking lot all loop runners had returned and I showed off my finds. David and I returned home, melted some butter and had some of the most delicious boletes I've ever eaten. Next week's run, Kendrick Mountain. Mushrooms will be plentiful there!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Big Brothers Big Sisters Half Marathon Run/Walk/5K



The 33rd Annual Big Brothers Big Sisters Half Marathon had a record number of finishers and an outstanding 40 runners who completed the Half Marathon walk! Congrats to all. Feel free to comment on the race on this page. The race director is happy to receive all comments so that we can continue to improve the race!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Mountain Man Triathalon Flagging



Had a chance to help flag traffic for athletes at the Mountain Man Triathalon. Congrats to Soulstice Mountain Trail Race co-founder Paul Brinkmann who finished his first Half Ironman Race!!!! It was a great day to cheer friends on the course and help with another of Flagstaff's outstanding race events!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Machine Solutions Soldiers Trail Race



Runners embraced the rain at today's Machine Solutions 10 and 5K runs. Jared Scott out-kicked Billy Orman in the closest race I've ever seen in Flagstaff. They rounded the final stretch stride for stride when Jared's toe was the first body part across the line. Sara Wagner ran away with the women's title. Enthusiastic volunteers kept the race lively and despite the torrential downpours and river and mud crossings, runners reveled in the madness all the way to the finish line!!!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

NATRA/FBO Arizona Trail Day



The rains came early and often, and as I arrived at our annual NATRA/Flagstaff Biking sponsored Arizona Trail Close the Gap Trail Construction day, water was rushing down Forest Road 164B. As my Honda Civic wound around the rocks and mud, I arrived at base camp where Gary and Gay called in the towel. 72 volunteers had signed up for the weekend with some from as far away as Oklahoma. While spirts were dampened, we still enjoyed Late For the Trail Coffee and held the NATRA raffle with lots of Soulstice/Flagstaff Urban Trail System giveaways. Aaron suggested that while we would not be working on trail, volunteers could assist with efforts protecting homes in the Schultz Fire area, and many headed that way. There is still one more Arizona Trail work weekend coming up August 28th-29th, so hopefully this section will get completed! Contact sghohner@cox.net to reserve your spot today!

In other news, thanks to Steve Rhode, NATRA has made its appearance on the Great Wall of China! Thanks Steve!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Rhi's Last Hurrah....Arizona Trail, Walnut Canyon

A beautiful morning for 12 runners on the Arizona Trail from Walnut Canyon north to I-40. The day started off cloudy and damp, a fitting weather pattern for Rhiannon's last NATRA group run as she and Tim are headed to Portland, Oregon! Once we raffled off some great FUTS caps, shirts and bandanas, we hit the trail. Right off the bat, we scared a large herd of about 20 elk. As we descended from the old growth tall ponderosa pine stands to the lower pinyons and junipers, we were overpowered by the sweet scent of cliffrose. Our view of the Peaks in the open grassland was marred by the blackness of the Schultz Fire. Feeling strong running downhill, I ran a bit too fast and on the uphill return my legs decided to rebel against forward motion. David Mckee made the return walk less painful as his jokes distracted me from the hurt in my legs. Back at the trailhead we returned to the Seasoned Kitchen where Tony whipped up his finest coffees for all.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Schultz Creek

A remarkable turn out of 25 runners on a sultry, stifling humid morning. Prior to running, we held a quick raffle for Flagstaff Urban Trail caps, shirts and bandanas. We will continue to celebrate the 50th mile of FUTS with raffle giveaways at the next two runs. As a result of the heavy rains of Friday, the trail was in perfect condition. The wild flowers were spectacular with more columbines than I can ever remember. Even more amazing was that most of the runners completed the entire loop! At the top of the Lincoln Logs the water was flowing and it felt like we were in a rain forest! Once the sun broke through the clouds, the temperature quickly heated up and by the last half of the run, Schultz Creek trail was nearly bone dry. We all returned to Late For the Train and filled up the outside benches.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sandy Canyon and FUTS 50 Celebration



What a day for Flagstaff. While I wasn't running, I had a fun time photographing the group run at Sandy Canyon. Thanks to Aaryn Baltutis we have a google map and elevation profile of the run (see pics). I then zipped off to the unveiling of the monument marking the 50th Mile of the Flagstaff Urban Trail System. It was a great turnout with many of the original visionaries, planners and supporters who laid the ground work for the trail system in the late 1980s. Vice Mayor Celia Barotz unveiled the monument and the celebration began. City staff handed out t-shirts, bandanas and caps to attendees and NATRA secured a handful of prizes to be raffled off at future group runs! Download photos from today's events! Sandy Canyon Run and or the FUTS 50 Celebration!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

2nd Annual 4 on the 4th



Today marked the second annual Free Flagstaff Four on the Fourth. Organized by Arizona Daily Sun Editor Randy Wilson, the race handicaps fast age groups. With a head start given to slower runners, everyone has a chance at victory. Sara Wagner returned to the Flagstaff racing scene in grand fashion crossing the finish line with a 2 minute lead. This year, the top 3 runners were all women, and Matt Boness was the only repeat top 10 finisher! Download photos . Happy July 4th to all!

Saturday, June 12, 2010



22 runners headed up on top of Observatory Mesa on a beautiful fall like morning. Several had to put on an extra shirt just to keep warm! Most actually ran the 10.7 mile long around the A-1 Mountain Meadow. Afterwards we returned to the Seasoned Kitchen to wind down with Tony's lates. Download today's photos.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Humphrey's Trail Conditions

A lot of questions this week about the Humphrey's Trail. Read the article that appeared in the Daily Sun after Memorial Day Weekend. Looking for elevation? Run Weatherford to Doyle Saddle for at least another week.

Sacred Mountain Prayer Run



A record turnout at the Sacred Mountain Prayer Run!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Soulstice Sprint Course



Memorial Day brought out a near record group of 30 runners. We were also joined by the Flagstaff Luna Moms! For the first time since I can remember, the creek along the Sunset Trail was flowing with water. There were also some foot deep snow drifts that will likely last well into June! Dropping into "not so" Dry Lake Hills we encountered a dry lake filled with water and ducks! Even the trip down Little Gnarly had the sound of trickling water! We then packed the Seasoned Kitchen with a standing room only crowd and enjoyed Tony's coffees.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Run for the Mountain Race - Soldiers Trail



A windy wild race at Fort Tuthill with record crowds!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Waterline Road

11 runners headed up the waterline road. We are still awaiting a full report from anyone who ran!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Schultz Creek to Fort Valley Trail System



18 runners including Sara's friends from Seattle made several Schultz Creek crossings before turning onto the Fort Valley Trail Systems. A small faction diverted over to the double loop trail. As Weintraub, Lurie and the Axlers wandered about the trails for what seemed like 40 years, the defectors realized they would have to part the waters of Schultz Creek to find the promised land of Caleb's backyard. Once back at Caleb's we all enjoyed post run bagels and home made flat bread pizzas in his famous oven. Caleb cooked up original pizzas such as "Pizza Terra" conisting of roasted fennel, pinon, and rosemary on top of drizzled olive oil and the "Sweet Tooth" made from honey, roasted figs, ricotta and rosemary.

Special thanks to Caleb for hosting today's great post-run pizza party. Cheers, Neil W.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Oldham to Rocky Ridge



15 runners, Skylar and Anika headed up the Oldham Steps to Rocky Ridge on a beautifully chilly May Day. 15 anonymous runners agreed that since last winter's snows, Oldham got much steeper! The trail was surprisingly dry, however there were still several patches of snow clinging to the base of Mount Elden. At the end of the run we were able to watch the start of the Girls on the Run event in Buffalo Park. We returned to the Seasoned Kitchen for coffee and tea.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Walnut Canyon, Arizona Trail



14 runners headed south towards Fisher Point (including visitors Lauren, Jill and Eli). Both Bob and Eric went on exceptionally long runs joining the group at the trailhead. After several cold, wet days, the warm morning temperatures were a welcome change. Most runners went to the 4 mile overlook trail where David unsuccessfully searched for the brigadoon Sinagua pot sherd that we found 5 years ago. At the end of the run, we made our inaugural trip to the Flagstaff Coffee Company where Tim served us up some fine coffees. By noon, the patio filled with many locals enjoying an early beer on a warm, wind free spring day. As we walked away, David just couldn't help himself by making a bold prediction about more snow in store in the near future. Looking like another May with snow! No one cared to hear this information. Next week our scheduled Saturday runs will return to 8 AM until late fall.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I Heart Huckaby

11 runners and Skylar headed south for the last Sedona trail run of the year. When we arrived, the Huckaby parking lot was nearly full and there were as many hikers on the trail as there were runners. Huckaby, one of our shorter runs, is more challenging than most as it drops several hundred feet to Oak Creek. The return trip from the river is quite a climb and few can run it without stopping (of course the view is always a good excuse). At the end of the run we sat outside the coffee shops in West Sedona enjoying the warm April sun and nobody seemed to want to return to Flagstaff. Anyone who spoke of the impending return to winter next week was told to hush up. View photos from last year's Huckaby run.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Somewhere on Observatory Mesa...

It was a warm and breezy spring day as 11 runners (Chris,
Clare, Shea, Sabrina, Rhiannon, Mackenzie, Heather, Susan,
David, Bruce, Mike) and six dogs (Petzl, Josie, Wyatt, Annika,
Bob, Dharma) headed up into the snow & the slop on of Observatory Mesa. Breaking into 3 groups at the top, only Chris and Mike braved the entire 11-mile route. Bruce and Sabrina ran to the base of the loop and Bruce got them lost coming back, coming out at Westridge! (You had to be there.) The rest of the crew went south from the gate a ways.

Mars Hill Trail from Thorpe Park to the top of Observatory Mesa was in pretty good shape considering the amount of snow received this winter. A few patches of snow remained but these were easily dealt with either bypassing them altogether or
running on top of the still firm morning snow.

At the west end of the trail, the group split with some heading west onto FR515/FR506 and the others heading south along Tunnel Springs Trail and then back to Thorpe Park. The forest roads along the mesa top were wet and muddy and there was even an
abandoned and deeply-mired-in-the-mud truck. Tunnel Springs Trail, on the other hand, was mostly dry.

The groups rejoined at Thorpe Park and made a beeline for coffee at Late for the Train. (Thanks to Bruce and David B for the combined report!)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Wet Beaver Creek Run



20 runners and 6 dogs headed up the Wet Beaver Creek trail to the pools. It was a beautiful spring day and quite warm. Jamil and Brian took the leap of faith into the icy Beaver Creek waters. I re-created the scene from exactly 4 months ago where I tore my calf. Finally, no pain! As we returned to the cars Chris and Sara headed up the trail for the second time as they begin their march towards Trans Rockies. Once returning to Flag we hit the Seasoned Kitchen where Rhiannon became fascinated with the push me button on Tony's coffee maker. See the video above to see what happened when Rhiannon pressed the button!
View Bruce Higgins' photos from today's run.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Campbell Mesa Trails



16 runners braved the blustery, cold and howling winds this morning. The Campbell Mesa trails were in great shape as most of the snow has melted in this area. David mentioned that the east side of town had 2 fewer feet of snow and it really showed. Except for a few drifts covering the trail, it was basically dry. We warmed up with double shot of Espresso at the Seasoned Kitchen before calling it a morning.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Keyhole Sink Hike, Chicken Point, Hog Wash



While I did not attend the run in Sedona, I have posted the hike I led to the Keyhole Sink petroglyph panels. Enjoy. We will repeat this wonderful hike next Saturday!

Saturday Update thanks to David Blanchard!

Always looking for new routes and variety in our runs, Susan and
David decided to start at the Broken Arrow trailhead on Morgan
Road rather than the Margs Draw TH on Schnebly Hill Road.
Starting up Broken Arrow Trail, we took a quick right onto the
unmarked "Hog Wash" trail (see map) that would take us around
the north and west sides of the mountain. We then took "High on
the Hog" which brought us over the saddle and back to Broken
Arrow trail just as the main group of NATRA runners were heading
back down. We fell in behind the group and ended our run at the
Broken Arrow trailhead. Estimated distance on this run was
about 4 to 5 miles with some challenging sections and some
amazing terrain.




The rest of the group did the standard run on Margs Draw Trail
and then onto Broken Arrow to the turnaround at Chicken Point.

As has become our custom, we had an apres run get together at
Ravenheart coffee in West Sedona.

On Thursday, Susan and David also biked in Sedona and encountered a swollen "not so" Dry Creek!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ponderosa Trails



Don, Sabrina, Janel, Bruce, Buddy, Craig and I decided to hit the pavement rather than take chances on the crusty compacted snow. We crossed over I-17 and found the paved path to Ponderosa Trails free of snow. What a great run! With streams flowing aside us, we just had to be careful of the icy low spots. Afterwards the oddest part of the day began. While we were finishing up chatting at the Campus Coffee Bean, a co-worker from years back said hello. Stephanie, a geologist, was visiting friends and getting ready to leave town. While that was out of the ordinary, there was nothing stranger than driving home and seeing a runner with a familiar gait. Well, turns out it was Kate O'Brien, one of the original 1995 6 pre-NATRA runners. Kate left Flagstaff more than a decade ago. and had returned to visit friends and surprise her brother in Sedona. Strangest 15 minutes this year...who else am I going to run into today? Download photos from today's run.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Munds Wagon Trail - Merry Go Round


Runners included David and Susan B, David McKee, Mackenzie, Cameron, Rhiannon, Chris and Tobin, Bruce, Sabrina, Amber and Dave, plus dogs Annika, Soren, Wyatt, and Josie. Trail conditions were excellent with damp but not wet conditions and there was running water in the streams. Mackenzie, Cameron, Amber, Dave, and Bruce composed the NATWA contingent (Northern Arizona Trail Walkers Association). David and Susan, David M, and Sabrina explored a new route that went up Munds Wagon Trail, branched to Cow Pies Trail, then onto Damfino, Hangover, and back to Munds Wagon. (See attached map). Awesome! Other runners went to Merry-Go-Round rock. The day started out cool and cloudy but turned warm and sunny by the finish and we all enjoyed our apres-run at Ravenheart (Thanks to David Blanchard for the report and photos). View David Blanchard's photos.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bowl for Kid's Sake



As the group run was cancelled due to half of Flagstaff participating in the Ragnar Relay, NATRA once again hit the Starlites lanes to help raise money for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff. Tim, David, Rhiannon and Sami all broke 100 while Neil bowled a lowly 75. The highlight of the evening was when Cameron came over to taunt Neil about his poor effort. View and download photos.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Buffalo Park and the Kahtoola Uphill Challenge



Most runners opted to forgo the Saturday group run and save their energy for the Kahtoola Agassiz Uphill Challenge. Neil and Don ran into Buffalo Park. Blinded by snow, they headed for the back of the park and found what they thought was a bubbling spring alongside the cinder road. As Neil stepped closer, the mysterious water erupted into a fountain. Their discovery was short lived as it was just their weight on top of the ice forcing the water upwards. Realizing the trails were too icy, the intrepid runners decided it was time for NATRA to be renamed NARRA, at least for this day. They turned around and hit the empty streets of McMillan Mesa, connecting over to Ponderosa Parkway, dropping off the hill onto Turquoise and returned via Cedar Hill.



The evening's main event was the Kahtoola Uphill Challenge. As Hilary changed the venue changed from an early morning to evening event, and made it a round-trip race, throngs of athletes came to party. Crow Wing belted out tunes and great costumes abounded. Ninja Turtles, Thing One and Thing Two, the Cat in the Hat, Father Guinness Time, a cow and pig and even the shirtless wonder, Ray Loboto, took on the course in a blinding snowstorm. No surprises as Jared Scott and Sara Wagner won the race titles. View and download photos.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Tom's Guitarathon for Cory



About a dozen runners ran up Schultz Creek today. The weather was magnificent, and you could hardly tell that we were floating on top of 3 feet of compacted snow. Kahtoolas were not even that necessary. Afterwards, we attended Tom Sheeley's Guitarathon benefit for his daughter Cory. It was a great turnout and Cory's fiance Gene even made it up from Tucson and reported that she was in great spirits! Great News!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Beaver Creek or Mormon Lake?



NATRA runners divided themselves today. While a contingent escaped the snow and ran Beaver Creek, others competed or supported the first Kahtoola Mormon Lake 10K Snowshoe race. Proceeds from the race benefited Flagstaff's premier environmental program, Camp Colton. Reports gave the new race course a thumbs up. Jared Scott came flying across the finish line in first place, followed closely by Mark Thurston and Steve Rhode. On the women's side it was a sprint to the finish with Gail Hughes nudging out Abby Okrent. The biggest surprise was the number of families with kids who turned out for the Fun Run. Lots of kids testing out snowshoes for the first time. Mormon Lake Lodge hosted the post race party with hot chocolate, coffee and hearty chili for all. Kahtoola sent just about every participant away with Micro Spikes or other great gear! Don't miss this one next year!

Bruce and Sabrina supplied the following report from the warmer climes of Beaver Creek: Chris, Tobin, Janie, Sabrina, David, Susan and Bruce along with Wyatt, Josie and Skyler ran the Beaver Creek trail today. It's obvious a lot of rain fell last week, with rocks & boulders strewn along the trail along the cliff. The main side draw was flowing but easily fordable. You could hear the sound of rushing water for most of the run from the creek below. The streams were active, but not overflowing by any means. Beaver Creek was up and a bit murky, but not nearly as expected. No one
volunteered to swim today, with snow melt feeding the stream! Several of us gathered at Ravenheart afterward, as 89A had reopened with only one spot pinched down to one lane.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Buffalo Park, end of the 3rd biggest snowstorm!



Well, after spending the morning digging out, I thought, I'm beat, and I doubt anyone will show up to Buffalo Park. Boy, was a I wrong. Bruce, Tony, Sabrina, Craig, Buddy and Don kept the tradition alive!!!! Way to go! Thanks to Don we have plenty of images of Buffalo Park. Take note of the trail signs that are just barely above the snow level!!!! Check out the photos!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Chicken Point



It was a beautiful morning for our Chicken Point run. It was a great turnout with folks anticipating the "big storm", figuring this might be one of the last chances to run in good weather for a while. The video says it all!!! Ignore the incorrect date...I don't feel like editting the title.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Schultz Creek Road



Chris, Tobin (Josie and Wyatt), Bruce, Neil, Susan, David, Don, Sara, Tony, and Ian and Zoraster ran up a snowpacked Schultz Creek Road. Runners quickly warmed as the sun filled the Forest. Most headed down and enjoyed Tony's quinoa blueberry muffins and specialty coffees.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Jim Thompson Trail



It was a gorgeous morning to get out of Flagstaff and head for the warmer climes of the Jim Thompson Trail, a quick 35 minute trip south to Sedona. We were most pleased to be join by five Sedona runners today, a new record! While we didn't all start at the same time, we all ended up together. It was also great day for the dogs as they almost outnumbered the runners! We had an extra long coffee break at the Raven as no one wanted to leave the warmth of Sedona and hit the weekend snowplay traffic congestion. Thanks to a heads up cell call from Chris, Neil and Rhi enjoyed a trip on the back roads to avoid a jam packed Milton Road and sneak home up Switzer Canyon! Ah, winter in Flag! Download today's photos.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Day 2010



Eight runners rang in the New Year by running north on the snowy west side urban trail. The trail was well packed from the Middle School up until we climbed above Coconino Estates. From there we simply ran the snow packed roads enjoying the spectacular views of the Peaks. We then enjoyed coffees at the Kickstand! A great kickoff for the new year! Download photos from today's run.