On Friday, August 29, 2014, the Blue Moon Trail Run returns to Ute Valley Park in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to celebrate its third running. The event gets underway at 4:30 p.m. with late registration and number pickup followed at 5:45 with 400-meter and 800-meter races for children aged ten and under. The signature 5K and 10K races will be held at 6:00.
The event is a fundraiser for the Colorado Springs Community Centers which are under the purview of the Recreation Services Division of the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department. Composed of Deerfield Hills, Hillside and Meadows Park community centers, all are located in south Colorado Springs.
Race director Brian Kates, who also works for the City of Colorado Springs as facility director for the Meadows Park Community Center says the Community Centers are often misunderstood and may be unknown to many local residents. Through the event, Kates hopes to increase visibility as well as to provide some much-needed funding to support youth programs at the centers.
Says Kates, “If participation goals are reached, net proceeds to the Friends groups should exceed $1,000 and should approximate $5,000 for the community centers.”
The event was founded in 2012, a year, according to Kates, “When the Parks & Recreation Department was beginning to rebound, albeit slowly, from the economic downturn. It seemed to be an opportune time to develop an event that showcased some of the strengths of the department, including parks, trails, fitness, family and fun.
“The Friday before Labor Day was chosen as a way to celebrate the unofficial end of summer in a way that is inclusive to all and celebratory,” continued Kates, “ It just so happened that that date in 2012 was the day of the second full moon of the month, known commonly as a blue moon. An evening race under the moon with a beer garden and post-race barbecue seemed to be the logical design to accomplish the goal.”
From the events humble beginnings which saw 50 runners in year one, the event grew to 250 participants in 2013. “This year we are poised to eclipse 400 participants,” said Kates. “To keep the integrity of the race and reduce impact on Piñon Valley and Ute Valley parks, we have set a race limit of 500 total participants.”
Piñon Valley Park is a neighborhood park which sits adjacent to the larger Ute Valley Park. “This location was the right choice,” said Kates, “It has supportive neighbors in a location that saw perhaps its worst day just weeks before the inaugural race, as it sat in harm’s way of that summer’s Waldo Canyon Fire. Besides its great people and location, PVP has many amenities conducive to staging such an event. And the biggest sell was it being located adjacent to Ute Valley Park, allowing for a race to be developed that was, save 25 meters of road, completely on nature trail, including single track.”
The course as such is described as “moderately difficult.” Kates says, “In some ways it is a counter response to the numerous themed races that have popped up here (in Colorado Springs), and seemingly everywhere. Whereas those races are for-profit events, largely from promoters who reside outside of Colorado Springs and are untimed and on easy terrain of little imagination, the BMTR is the polar opposite: local, uniquely Colorado Springs, high on quality but lower on sizzle and spin.”
All ability levels are welcomed and encouraged to attend according to Kates and many elect to walk the 5K. However, since this is an evening race, participants who think it will take them longer than 90 minutes to navigate the course should bring a headlamp in case darkness descends.
For those interested in previewing the course, Kates has scheduled a guided run on Wednesday, August 20. The run will start at 5:30 from Trinity Brewing Company and head to Piñon Valley Park (1.2 miles away) and along the 5K race course in Ute Valley Park. Following the run, all are encouraged to enjoy and support the community centers, where $1 of all Trinity Beer sales will be donated.
In addition to a large variety of raffle prizes on race day, from skating and golf to running store certificates and signed copies of The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running, there are age-group prizes three deep in seven divisions. Overall winners will receive special awards on top of the gift certificates and medals issued. Each finisher will receive a commemorative race glass, which can be used to refresh with Coca-Cola products, Bristol beer (for those 21 years of age and older), or water.
Available for purchase at the event will be items such as a commemorative runners’ cap, Josh & John’s ice cream and beer tokens for the Runner’s Roost Beer Garden where five kegs of Bristol Beer and samples of Blue Moon beer await all participants 21 years of age and older. Proceeds from the Beer Garden will be donated to the Friends of Ute Valley Park and Friends of Cheyenne Cañon.
Childcare will be provided for a small fee through Diakonia, a licensed provider based at each center and nearby Wilson United Methodist Church. Those interested are asked to complete a registration form located at this link.
Race sponsors include Massage Envy, Runners Roost and Josh & John’s Homemade Ice Cream. Additional support has been provided by Colorado Springs fire department, police department, print shop and communications office.
Certainly instrumental in the success of the event has been the support from the Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department led by director Karen Palus. Park staff has embraced the event from Kim King, manager of Recreation Services, to Parks Maintenance crew, Special Events staff, and Cindy Jones, the lone employee who made all of the race signs and who makes most of the signs along trails and in parks throughout the city.