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, October 11, 2015

In Memory of Mom from Now and On: 2015 Soulstice Mountain Trail Run

 It was like déjà vu all over again (Thanks Yogi!)....perfect weather for the 16th running of Soulstice and a first ever repeat of the male and female winners. Emily Harrison (1:21.14) and Chris Gomez (1:12.29) once again started the post-race party by tapping the kegs with their winning Soulstice Pilsner pint glasses. It was Harrison's 2nd straight title while Gomez completed the first ever men's 3-pete and his recorded setting 4th long course victory (he also has a sprint course title on his mantle.

Sara Wagner (1:27.08) and Ian Torrence (1:23.43) took home the Master's awards. Notably, Wagner took more than 5 minutes off last year's time to run her fastest Soulstice since 2009.

On the sprint course side, Janet Bain's 51.47 won her a 6th straight women's title and 7th overall while Jackson Messner's 48.23 gave him his first Soulstice win. Megan Gavin's 55.18 and Scott Bajer's 49.16 gave both their first master's titles.

With the memory of my mom strong throughout the race, the Soulstice celebration continued far into the afternoon as I shared some of my favorite Jackie stories with largest Soulstice Knights of the Round Table ever. With a banana peel fight and certain runners providing entertainment that well, what happens at Knights of the Round Table, stays at the Sunset trail head.

Between fundraisers and the Aspen Sports raffle, this year's race set a record by raising nearly $7000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff, helping local kids succeed by matching them with appropriate adult mentors.

And speaking of déjà vu all over again, thanks once again goes out to Rhiannon Wood who returned from Portland to help me organize the race and mark the course this week; David McKee's antics and artistry; Grant Dunstan and New Belgium Brewing for keeping the party rolling into afternoon hours; Jerry McLauglin and Dave Barnett for the Aspen Sports raffle; Ryan Dee who keeps me fed with his Soulstice Mountain Trail Run haute cuisine; shirt sponsors Aspen Sports, Pay n' Take, Dr. Amber Randall with Flagstaff Bone and Joint, Salomon Sports, Sweatvac Shirts, Fratelli's Pizza and great prizes from Run Flagstaff, Arizona IMS Marathon and division Soulstice pint glasses crafted by Robert Reniger of Arne Ceramics; Super Salve Swag;Captain Jim for helping mark the long course; the Pay n' Take's Scott Miller and Paul Brinkmann for the Pay n'Take's legendary post-race party; Keri Postlewait of Biff's Bagels; Clotho's Nuts and Glory Bars in memory of mom - http://www.nutsandglory.com/world-famous2/ ;Coconino Amateur Radio Club; Jim Driscoll wiith Coconino County Sheriff's Department; Bob Vance and the Flagstaff Ranger District for permitting the event and mainaining our amazing trails; Guardian Medical; Michael Tharp for course marking leave no trace clean up duty; Aaron Devine's Parks and Recreation class; Theresa Dowell, Abe Springer, Sean Tice, Amber Adams, Julie Thurston, Katie Landry, Christina Bauer, and Flagstaff Fire Chief Mark Gaillard for their timing skills; Coconino County Supervisor Matt Ryan (AKA Batman); Brent Schepper with Fratelli's Pizza; Steve Rhode for my 15th Soulstice anniversary cake and "Soulstice Evolution" photo; Jennifer Hoss who took the marvelous photos, and to my wife Diana who put a Weintraub back in the Soulstice standings for the first time in 15 years, running her first Soulstice with her oldest sister Virginia (all the way from Erie, Pa) while chasing her twin Vicki (from Beaver, PA) all who flew in for a Soulstice birthday surprise. Finally, Soulstice could not happen with all the energy and excitement that participants bring to the race, so thank you!

Soulstice lottery registration will open next year on January 1st and close on March 31st for our annual lottery drawing. The earlier you register, the more chances you will have to win a free Soulstice spot.
PS.....Ever wonder what happens to left over Soulstice Swag? Thanks to Coach Steve Rhode's photo below, we found out that Sinagua Middle School Cross-Country runners know the answer!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Arizona Trail Celebration Run

 16 NATRA runners (and 5 newbies!) who passed on Imogene Run, drowned their sorrows by celebrating the Arizona Trail with a grueling 7 mile run on the infamous steps of Oldham. We also made a photosphere of the run - check out this link - https://plus.google.com/+NeilWeintraub/posts/3UiCKEX5kRQ…

As we had to wait for the 10 AM party to start, Kelly's Bacon Oatmeal (and non-bacon) cookies replenished our carbos until the beer garden opened. Once again, Wanderlust Brewing Company provided several good reasons for drinking beer before noon and NATRA of course was first in line. There still time to make it out to Buffalo Park, so get out there before 2 PM!

With two major trail races the next two weekends, our next NATRA run is the 35th annual WAR DOG on Sunday October 4th. Visit http://www.natra.org and read all about it!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Having Your Cake and Eating it Too, Run

11 NATRA runners basked in a dreary, damp, northwest morning-like fiesta of Flagstaff Urban Trails, Arizona Trail, Loop Trail, and Kelly's scrumptious chocolate cayenne apple sauce cake. As overnight rains drenched Flagstaff, we noticed the Rio De Flag was alive at the start of the trail. We made our way east along the babbling brook until it hit the sewage treatment plant. We also admired the fabulous new Flagstaff Urban Trail signs! So cool and full of great information.

At that point the group split, some taking the high road (AZ Trail) while others took the lower road (a longer but flatter route by Hoffman Tank). While deciding where to run, Nick Hilton passed by us. We still had our wits about us and decided not to chase him!

As predicted the two groups reconvened at the junction of the Flagstaff Loop Trail and AZ Trail at nearly the same time. Not long after we hit the paved hills of Lone Tree Road. About 6.6 miles according to various watches.

Once back at the trailhead Kelly replenished our lost carbs with her to die for chocolate cayenne cake. Yes, and Bruce had his cake and ate it too. We returned to Wildflower and got excited for next Saturday's big Arizona Trail event at Buffalo Park at 10 AM. https://www.facebook.com/events/1030235177008265/ - To celebrate the Arizona Trail, NATRA will meet at 8 AM and run the Oldham-Rocky Ridge Loop, about 6.6 miles and then partake in the post run festivities in Buffalo Park. There will be great raffle prizes so bring some extra cash! Last year's event was a blast and there will be a beer garden! Post-run morning beer - perfect training for Soulstice Mountain Trail Run!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Old Town Flagstaff Run..Bar None

An amazing turnout of 24 runners for the 5.7 mile loop of Flagstaff Urban Trail on Observatory Mesa. We had 4 newbies, including a native New Yorker passing through Flag. Having avoided the good old Urban Trail hill on our last few Observatory Mesa runs, it seemed that the hill turned up its slope. Perhaps it was upset that we now often abandon it in favor of the much gentler loop connector trail. Either way, the hill was steeper and the 1.6 miles to the gate seemed longer.

Once we topped out at the gate it was a pretty fast run back to Lower Coconino, aka, Old Town Flagstaff. Yup, the original townsite is not where downtown is today, but just to the west off Lower Coconino Avenue. I brought along a mid-1880s photo that shows the bars along the main drag.

We then made a stop at Old Town Springs where there is a small park today with water dribbling out of the town's orginal watering hole. Evidently, it was never very reliable. Our resident springs expert Abe Springer recounted its history as captured in Platt Cline's They Came to the Mountain. "Old Man Ramsey used to spend the night drowsing beside it, holding a dipper to catch its dribble, pouring his catch into a bucket as its weight every so often awoke him." (P.127)

We even found some ghosts of Flagstaff's past who tried to re-create the historic photo in front of the bars.

As we returned to the pavement and modern day Flagstaff, the large NATRA crowd took over the streets of the historic neighborhood. We then packed the Kickstand and replenished our dehydrated bodies.

There will not be a run for the next two weeks as Machine Solutions 10/5K and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff Half Marathon/5K kick off the second half of the Run Flagstaff Summer Series. Registration is available at http://www.runflagstaff.com - and don't forget, today at 4 PM head down to Hops on Birch for the BBBSF fundraiser!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Skirting Walnuts and Bueberries

Despite another event full Flagstaff weekend, 16 NATRA runners with Kara's blueberry pancakes on their minds ran the Arizona Trail south along the edge of Walnut Canyon. Participants from Phoenix, Sedona, and Flagstaff wondered if the promised deluge of rain was only a false hope. Without the threat of rain, the run was picture perfect.

Usually the viewpoint overlooks are the highlight of this run, however, they were easily outdone by Kara's post-run breakfast blueberry pancake feast. With bellies full, the discussion went from Imogene Pass cut off times to imminent to Switzerland and Italy trips.

Foremost on my mind is the upcoming Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff Dave McKay Memorial Half Marathon which is only 3 weeks away (August 8th)! This is Arizona's second oldest (38 years running) half marathon which is always loaded with surprises. If you have not done so, register today at https://register.chronotrack.com/reg/form?eventID=11104! Next week's run will be to Railroad Springs. Meet at Thorpe Park Bark Park at 8 AM!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Soulstice Preview: A Chilling Summer Run


Was it Fall already? The weather guessers predicted a warm sunny day with the return of monsoons several days away. Greatly fooled, the 16 runners who arrived dressed for a hot summer run up the Sunset Trail questioned whether they had been transported to the often wintery starting line of October's Soulstice Mountain Trail Run (amazingly only 3 months away!). With the damp, chilly start to the summer, the wildflowers and mushrooms seemed about a month ahead of pace. Even the columbines were thriving.

After the tough 6 mile loop, thanks to CLIF, we enjoyed sampling their new line of organic energy food. Northern Arizona Trail Runners gave the thumbs up to all flavors including Pizza Margarita, Sweet Potato with Sea Salt, Banana Mango Coconut, and Banana, Beet with Ginger. ‪#‎RealFoodAthlete‬


Re-engerized, NATRA returned to the Kickstand for post-run coffee, the sun broke through the clouds, we sat outside, and it felt like summer had momentarily returned. Next week's run will be at the Arizona Trail trailhead off Old Walnut Canyon Road. We will run south on the Arizona Trail to the view points along Walnut Canyon. Afterwards we will head to Kara's house for a Blueberry Pancake breakfast!

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