Fort Collins running: 5 road races to train for this summer – Coloradoan

Fort Collins running: 5 road races to train for this summer  Coloradoan

While the FORTitude 10K run is officially no more, this is still Fort Collins.

We’ve got road race options aplenty for the active and vibrant Northern Colorado running community.

Maybe you’re one of the nearly 7,000 average annual participants for the now-defunct Labor Day tradition and looking for another run to keep your motivation high in the summer heat.

The Fort Collins Running Club’s yearly marathon training program began June 25 and runs the next 13 Saturdays through Sept. 24. 

And if you always have an eye on that finish line, here are some fall races to focus on for your training this summer.

Fall Equinox

When: Sunday, Sept. 18

Runs: Marathon, half marathon, 5-mile

Course: All three events run through the Poudre Canyon. The marathon starts west of Pingree Park, the half-marathon begins at The Mishawaka and the 5-mile run takes off from Gateway Natural Area, with each ending at the bottom of the canyon (a half mile west of Ted’s Place on U.S. Highway 287).

What to know: This has already been a popular fall option for local runners, with fall colors often abundant in the Poudre Canyon and a heavily downhill course that allows runners to shoot for personal records. Spots often fill up fast given limited space in the canyon, so earlier sign-ups are recommended.

Cost: $60-$120 ($50 virtual options available for all three races)


Windsor Marathon

When: Sunday, Oct. 9

Runs: Marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K

Course: All four events begin and end at the Island at Pelican Lakes.

The marathon winds through the Pelican Lakes area for several miles before traversing much of south and west Windsor, including a lengthy portion along the Poudre River Trail. The half marathon has a similar route but does not go west of Colorado Boulevard/Weld County Road 13. The 10K runs almost exclusively through the Pelican Lakes golf course and Eastman Park area.

What to know: The running is serious, but this is a family-friendly event with a party atmosphere at the end. A live band will be playing at the finish line, runners often rave of the Longs Peak views, and the course is flat and forgiving by Colorado standards. With vastly different distance options, there’s something for runners of every level here.

Cost: $35-$135 (free kids run also available)


Longview Marathon

When: Saturday, Oct. 1

Runs: Marathon, half marathon

Course: The marathon course begins at Edora Park in Fort Collins. It follows the Spring Creek Trail west to Spring Canyon Park before dipping south along the Fossil Creek and Long View trails as it heads south, joining up with Loveland’s Recreation Trail and finishing at Fairgrounds Park in south Loveland.

The half marathon starts at Fossil Creek Park in south Fort Collins and follows the same route as the marathon from there, also ending at Fairgrounds Park.

What to know: This is a unique run simply because it spans both Loveland and Fort Collins, taking advantage of our joined trail systems and allowing runners to avoid actual roads for much of the race. That usually allows for good spectator access along the trails, and the early October date should mean a crisp fall morning for racing.

Cost: $95-120


Blue Sky Trail Marathon

When: Saturday, Oct. 15

Runs: Marathon (Trail running)

Course: This trail-running course also spans the Fort Collins and Loveland areas, but this time in the foothills west of town. This 26.7-mile run starts and ends at Blue Sky Trailhead west of Fort Collins. From there, runners head north into Lory State Park for several miles before looping back down toward the starting line. The run then continues south all the way down to Devil’s Backbone before U-turning back north toward the finish line.

The course includes 22 miles of dirt singletrack, 3 miles of rocky singletrack and 2 miles of dirt road.

What to know: This is definitely for more hardcore runners. There’s about 3,500 feet of elevation gain and descent on this course. And while that’s daunting, it’s still a good race for novice trail runners looking to push themselves and seasoned veterans. A small word of warning, though: The later date and slightly higher elevation (average: 5,700 feet) means this could be a chilly one.

Cost: $95-105


Black Squirrel Half

When: Saturday, Sept. 10

Runs: Half marathon (Trail running)

Course: Consider this a preview of sorts for the Blue Sky Marathon, though runners will largely stay north of that course in Lory State Park. This race starts and ends at Soldier Canyon Picnic area and spans much of the perimeter of the park, with steep uphills early, an equal descent in the middle near the Arthur’s Rock area and rolling terrain for the final several miles.

What to know: This is a prime trail run for many reasons, especially with an earlier start date. The route features some familiarly gorgeous views of Horsetooth Reservoir, Fort Collins and the Rocky Mountains. This is definitely a challenging course (average elevation: 6,100 feet), but there’s also a kids race available and the picnic area at the finish line will have a pancake breakfast ready to carbo-load for your next run.

Cost: $99


Chris Abshire is the sports and stats content coach at the Coloradoan. Contact him at Support his work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.