7th Annual Flagstaff Summer Running Series in High Gear

7th Annual Flagstaff Summer Running Series in High Gear

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The 7th Annual Flagstaff Summer Running Series has reached its July recess and the top of leader boards are unchanged from last year. With two races remaining in August, Chris Gomez and Sara Wagner lead in the Open Divisions and John Bogen and Grace White-Daly lead the Master's Divisions.

On the men's side, Chris Gomez won the first three races (Run for the Mountain, Gaspin in the Aspen and Sacred Mountain Prayer Run). With Gomez missing the most recent race, Run for Life, Billy Orman, one of the nation's top High School runners from Tuba City was glad to take the spotlight. One can only imagine the sprint to the finish line had Orman and Gomez gone head to head. For the first time in recent memory, the women's races have had four different winners with Katie Koski (Run for the Mountain), Dawn Stone (Sacred Mountain Prayer Run), Sara Wagner (Gaspin in the Aspen) and Emily Harrison (Run for Life) crossing the finish line first.

The series races have a different look this year with Salomon's new multi-colored flags gracing the Virtualroster's chip timing "fortress". Local elites and runners from the Valley and Prescott have commented on how the Jaguar chip timed races have taken the Series to a new level, while retaining our home town touches.

And speaking of those runners from the Valley, keep your sun glasses on whenever the dozen or so Ahwautukee Native Beasts Running Club cross the finish line. Their lime green outfits have been a colorful addition to the series! Thanks to the Native Beasts and the Mountain Milers from Prescott, we have seen an unprecedented jump in runners from outside of Flagstaff.

The last two races are the August 6th Machine Solutions Soldiers Trail 10/5K races and the August 13th Big Brothers Big Sisters Run/Walk for the Magic Half Marathon and 5K. Just last week as we were baking in the sun at the finish line at Run for Life, several runners looked forward to the chilling rains of last August's Soldiers Trail run and the fun of dodging puddles on the Run for the Magic's Observatory Mesa course. If the monsoons continue in earnest, you may have to bring your own floatation devices. If you have not yet registered for the races do not worry, you can still do so at VirtualRoster.com.

Finally, to encourage athletes from across the Southwest to spend a long weekend in Flagstaff, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff and Mountain Man Events have partnered to inaugurate the "Flagstaff Feats of Fortitude" challenge. If you have the fastest combined times for the August 13thRun for the Magic Half Marathon and the August 14th Mountain Man Triathalon (Olympic or Half Ironman distances) you will win free entry into both races in 2012 (nearly a $200.00 value). To entice competitors, Northern Arizona Trail Runners Association will also give a NATRA racing cap to anyone that completes the competition. Race directors will announce the four awards once times are official for both races the week following the event. Just let us know that you have registered for both and we will include you in the competition to win the Feats of Fortitude challenge!

Neil Weintraub directs Northern Arizona Trail Runners Association (http://www.natra.org), the Flagstaff Summer Running Series and is co-chair of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff Half Marathon. He has raced in or volunteered at almost every Flagstaff running event since 1986.

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