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Cross country skiers at Arizona Nordic Village

People skate ski at the Arizona Nordic Village in this file photo. 

What’s in a name? Local ultrarunner Ian Torrence (my husband) has a knack for conjuring up unique and creative names. This is evidenced by the monikers he’s given our pups (Tapeats, Quill and Sycamore) and some of the running events he’s been part of (Red Hot, Pompadour, Bootlegger, Red Rock Fat Ass, Hot Summer Nights and Sunnyside Up).

He’s stayed true to form with the new Parhelic Circle Trail Races. Sundog Running, our coaching business, is named after an atmospheric optical phenomenon that symbolizes the camaraderie and support our coaching team strives to provide.

Subsequently, Ian also named this event after an atmospheric optical phenomenon. Less common than a sundog (mock suns that form to the right and left of the real sun when it’s close to the horizon), a parhelic circle is a reflection of sunlight — a white halo around the sun. It is sometimes seen as a horizontal line or arching ray across the middle of the sun.

In light of this, the Parhelic Circle Trail Races take place on a two-loop course through the ponderosa and aspen forests of the Arizona Nordic Village, in the mountains above Flagstaff. The loops mirror one another and overlap at the start/finish line. Participants will also feel close to the sun, as the course’s elevation ranges between 8,000 and 8,800 feet above sea level.

On July 27 and 28, come test your skills at the Arizona Nordic Village for the inaugural Parhelic Circle races. This is a timed event, so the challenge lies in how many trail miles you can accumulate over 6, 12 or 24 hours. Run solo, or make it a party and run relay-style with friends. If you’re looking for something shorter, come hike or run the 8K on Sunday morning on the same course.

Since runners will be on-course for many hours, base camp (the start/finish line) will stay lively throughout the event and will feature music, food and a bonfire. Sundog Running will be hosting a four-day running camp in conjunction with the races, bringing another level of excitement to the weekend.

Babbitt Ranches president Billy Cordasco inspired the Parhelic Circle races.

“The Nordic Village is a great venue for a ‘go as you please’ style race,” says Cordasco. “Runners can use this event to train for events like the Imogene Pass Run, Soulstice or the Flagstaff to Grand Canyon Stagecoach Line races.”

To bring this production to fruition, Ian and I joined forces with fellow coach Eric Senseman and Arizona Nordic Village general manager Evan Reimondo. Having spent ample time exploring these trails over the past several years, we guarantee a course that will give all runners the optimal race day (and night) experience.

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Flagstaff’s Emily Harrison Torrence is a longtime runner who cofounded Sundog Running with her husband. She’s an Arizona Trail steward and the assistant race director for the Flagstaff to Grand Canyon Stagecoach Line events.

Do you have a column, tip or idea for High Country Running? Run it over to coordinating editor Julie Hammonds at runner@juliehammonds.com, or tweet her @highcountry_run.

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