By Kyle Kirves
Late last week, with Old Man Winter still menacing Colorado when we should have been welcoming spring, organizers of the 2016 Horsetooth Half Marathon were working feverishly on contingency plans. Would the announced and traditional course be available? Would parking be a problem in Fort Collins if Hughes Stadium (home of the CSU Rams) was a no-go? Turns out, with just a very few tweaks, the race went off as planned with the tireless work of the team, the City of Fort Collins, and the assistance of the Holiday Twin Drive In Theatrepitching in for parking.
But make no mistake, it was blustery in the hours before the race, with steady snow and wind waking runners up in the pre-race queue. Spirits and outlooks were high, though. Without exception, the runners I talked to were ready to go, qualifying their optimism only slightly. A common refrain was a variation on “I’m great, except my hands/feet/ears/(unprintables) are a bit chilly.”
The 13.1 mile course kept to its original plan, winding through a landscape that could have come from a Colorado Christmas card. And sideline supporters were bundled up along the way, sipping hot drinks and cheering runners on. Brienne Nelson of Golden took first place overall – the first time a woman has done so in the long history of the HTH.
And because it is Beer Collins that we’re talking about, finishers were gifted – excuse me, earned – a collectible pint glass and a complimentary beer from the craft brewing stalwarts at New Belgium Brewing Co. Volunteers poured out perhaps as many as a thousand pints of staples and flagship ales from Fort Collins favorite. Sunshine Wheat was this guy’s choice to carb replenish, though I could have easily gone with the 1554.
Hats off the organizers, volunteers, and sponsors who pulled off yet another great event in the face of wintery conditions. And a toast to all the finishers and supporters of the 2016 Horsetooth Half.