Featured photo for Horsetooth Half Marathon

Horsetooth Half Marathon

A tactical race. That is what I fully set out to do after burning out quicker than a roadside flare in the Sharin’ o’ the Green 5k last month, a consequence of starting out like a jackrabbit. After all, the Horsetooth Half was 10 miles longer, not to mention a few lumps in the earth’s crust in Fort Collins with names such as “Monster Mountain,” “Dam Hill,” and “Bingham Hill.”

A tactical race could explain why, then, going up the first Mt. Everest of the race (which started at Mile 0!), about 150 people were passing me. I was intent on conserving energy on the climbs, and letting it all out on the downhills and flatlands.

Despite the resultant yo-yoing with the other runners, this ended in a very fun race. I flew down each descent by basically pretending to be a bowling ball in a strong gravitational field, and kept tempo on the flats. The final three miles I picked up the pace and began a frenzied sprint after the final turn to a 200-meter straightaway through the finishing chute. Phew!

I was pleased with how the race went, especially since it ended up being a personal best for a half-marathon-only course despite the hilliness of certain sections. (Interestingly, my half-marathon split in the 2006 Chicago Marathon was a tad faster even though there were still 13.1 miles to go!)

My friends did well too, including Nick who finished ten minutes before me, for 14th place overall (out of ~900 people), and Diana, who finished in 1:42 despite bonking with a couple of miles to go.

Perhaps most notable, however, was Cathy who won the women’s 60-65 age group, finishing the run in not much over two hours. Amazing! That was faster than, say, my half-marathon time in the Wildflower Triathlon a few years ago. She’s a sweetheart too.

Our reward after all of this was all the free New Belgium beer that one could (well, would) drink, live music and lots of cookies. With all that, plus the virtually perfect weather, beautiful course and lots of friends, it was an ideal way to spend a gorgeous spring Sunday.

This is the course profile.

Time Splits

Mile 1: 8:38 (Monster Mountain)
Mile 2: 8:16 (Monster Mountain)
Mile 3: 6:34
Mile 4: 7:11 (Dam Hill)
Mile 5: 6:38
Mile 6: 7:05
Mile 7: 7:45 (Bingham Hill)
Mile 8-9: 14:50 (7:25 average)
Mile 10: 7:32
Mile 11-12: 14:31 (7:16 average)
Mile 13: 7:00
Mile 13.1: 0:36

Overall time: 1:36:37 (7:22 average)
Overall finish: 62/871


  • Total Distance: 13.1 miles
  • 917 feet elevation gain
  • 1154 feet elevation drop
  • Net gain: -237 feet

Published Article

A short essay of mine regarding doing a training run with Nick in snow for this event is in the April 19, 2007 edition of NextNC, a weekly publication in Northern Colorado. It is here (PDF, 1.1 MB).

The finish line was just down the road from New Belgium Brewery.
My good friends Nick and Dana (with baby Alistair).
Doug and Marji were also here.  You can also see the all-important beer tent in the back.
The live band.
The starting area.  Just beyond is Monster Hill, which we'd have to ascend for the first 1.5 miles.