I can hardly believe that I am announcing the 10th annual Run Flagstaff Summer Series. What started with four races in 2005 to increase pre-registration for local races is now a Flagstaff institution. It has grown from 67 runners in year one to 214 last year. There have been some changes to race dates, so please take note below.
Once again sponsored by Run Flagstaff and organized by volunteers (see Abe Springer’s Jan. 26 High Country Running column about the importance of volunteers), the series price will stay the same for the fourth straight year. The package deal of six races directly benefits local nonprofit organizations and includes the Mountain School 10K/5K/2K (8 a.m., May 10, at Fort Tuthill); the NACA 10K/5K/2K (7:30 a.m., June 7 at Thorpe Park); Northland Hospice 10K/5K/Kids Dash (7:30 a.m., June 28 at Wheeler Park); Machine Solutions 10K/5K/Kids Dash (8 a.m., Aug. 2 at Fort Tuthill); Big Brothers Big Sisters Half Marathon/5K/Kids Dash (7:30 a.m., Aug. 9 at Wheeler Park); and Gaspin’ in the Aspen 15K/5K/Kids Dash (Aug. 23 at Flagstaff Nordic Center).
The early bird package is offered at a bargain basement price of $193. After Feb. 15, the price goes up incrementally until May 5.
You can still register for the individual races; however, signing up for the entire series is a great value, even if you only participate in four. The competitive series is scored for the 10K, 15K and half-marathon distances. Your best three of six races are scored based on your race percentile finish. The top male and female champs win free entry for next year’s series, an honor currently held by Chris Gomez and Sara Wagner. Last year, AVDomotics and Flagstaff Design Center gave all series runners racing caps and their prize sponsorship will again provide great raffle prizes at every race.
Our unique scoring system for competitive runners balances both finishing place and participation. Competitive runners who do all six races actually have a strategic advantage over those who do not, because they can have a higher percentile finish in the absences of their “nemesis.” I use “nemesis” in the fondest manner — I’ve heard several runners quote this term when referring to their closest friends, who compete toe-to-toe with them at the series.
Series prize divisions are 18 and younger, 19-39, 40-59 and 60-older (each race has its own age prize divisions, too). Last year, thanks to Salomon Sports, nearly half the competitive age divisions won great gear. The noncompetitive series is for participants who wish to do any distance either walking or running. All races except for the downtown Hospice Life Run take place on our beautiful Forest trails and roads, including rocky terrain and challenging hills.
Over the past decade, dozens of runners from Flagstaff, as well as distant desert dwellers escaping the summer heat, have touched me with their moving stories about how the Series has inspired them to a healthier lifestyle. Most cite the mental and physical benefits that help them get through some of life’s toughest challenges. Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a new comer, join the Series, meet new friends, win great prizes, help some great community causes and receive untold health benefits.
Neil Weintraub is voluntary director of both Northern Arizona Trail Runners Association and the Run Flagstaff Summer Series. He also coordinates the Flagstaff Racing Calendar every year and is excited to announce that a record 18 races are listed between March 8 and the Oct. 11 season-ending Soulstice Mountain Trail Run. This year, Color Vibe and Mud Runs have been added to the packed schedule! To download the clickable calendar, visit RunFlagstaff.com or natra.org.
Myles Schrag is coordinating editor for High Country Running. He welcomes submissions (500-word maximum). You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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