2023 Elite Women’s Field Announced, Course Record Under Threat

The prize purse for the 50th running of the Horsetooth Half Marathon has been increased to a total pool of $12,000, with generous support from the Fort Collins Running Club. Payouts go 8 deep and there will be fierce competition to match.

Sara Vaughn’s 2021 course record (1:15:16) is likely to feel some pressure, amid a women’s race that features an interesting mix of regional, international and collegiate talent. 

The Women’s Elite Field

Last year’s winner Liz Lagoy will not be returning to defend her title in 2023, which leaves Sophie Seward as the top returning runner. A member of the local Front Range Elite (FRE) training group, Sophie placed third in 2022 and comes into the race this year with a marathon PR of 2:33:23. Sophie ran 2:35:36 at the 2022 Grandmas Marathon, securing her spot at the 2024 US Olympic Team Trials. 

Sophie will be joined on the start line by a number of her FRE teammates, including 2018 Horsetooth Half Champion AnnMarie Kirkpatrick, who is coming off a 2:40:34 at the California International Marathon in December. Others from the FRE team include:

  • Sarah Anderson – fifth in the 2021 Horsetooth Half (1:19:58)
  • Mary Katherine Andrews – 2:46:13 at the 2022 Berlin Marathon
  • Grace Morgan – 2:54 at the 2023 Houston Marathon 

Among the favorites for this year’s race will be those coming in from overseas. Top seeded among those runners is Kenya’s Joyline Chemutai. She comes into the Horsetooth Half on the back of a race-winning 1:10:58 effort at the Monterey Bay Half Marathon in November of last year.

Joyline will be pushed by a fellow Kenyan and two Ethiopian runners, also with impressive recent performances:

  • Sarah Naibei – Broad Street 10 Miler Defending Champion (52:04).
  • Hirut Guangul – winner of two 2022 Rock n’ Roll Half Marathons: Washington DC (1:14:02) and New Jersey (1:14:46).
  • Weynshet Weldetsadik – placed an impressive ninth at the recent Cherry Blossom 10 Miler (53:47).

Another angle of interest from the women’s elite field is a contingent of recent CSU cross country and track standouts:

  • Janelle Lincks has been focussed recently on international mountain running competition, but comes in with a 1:13:06 half marathon PR from 2021 and still holds the CSU 3k steeple chase record (10:00:02), set in 2017.
  •  Ashlyn Hilliard was part of last year’s CSU Cross Country team at the NCAA D1 National Championships. She will be making her competitive debut at the half marathon distance. She comes in with 5k/10k PRs of 16:06 & 34:01.
  • Claudia Burgess was also on the CSU XC team at the NCAAs. She too will be making her competitive debut at the half marathon distance and comes in with 5k/10k PRs of 16:25 & 34:55
  • Two other runners in the women’s field come in with sub-2:50 marathon PRs. Shayna Barbash ran a 2:49:34 in November at the Indianapolis Marathon, while Ellie Pell ran 2:41:52 at the 2019 Hartford Marathon to qualify for the last U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. 

    The racing action starts at 8:30am on Sunday, April 16. Lead runners in the women’s race will hit the finish around 9:45am.

2020 Race Registration to Open with Door-Buster Pricing

Registration for the 2020 running of the Horsetooth Half Marathon will open on Labor Day, Monday September 2 with door-buster pricing. The 47th running of the 13.1 mile race will take place Sunday, April 19, 2020, starting to the south of the former location of Hughes Stadium on Dixon Canyon Road and finishing by New Belgium Brewing on Linden Street in Old Town Fort Collins. Registrations will be capped at 2,500 on a first-come, first-served basis.

Prices for this year’s race will remain the same as they have for the last four years. Registration will once again open with one-week-only, door-buster pricing of just $65. Regular early bird pricing of $75 will run through to the New Year.  

“It’s our great honor to continue the grand tradition of the Horsetooth Half Marathon. Now in its 47th year, the race has a proud history as Colorado’s oldest road half marathon, and has been a longtime staple of the Fort Collins running community. We’re constantly looking for ways to improve and also to make sure that we offer fantastic value for money by making the race as accessible and affordable as possible,” said race director Nick Clark, owner of race management company Gnar Runners which began managing the race on behalf of the Fort Collins Running Club in 2015.

“All members of the Running Club receive a $20 discount on their registration, which means a $45 race entry if purchased in the early bird window. We don’t think you can find better value than that in Colorado – or across the country – for a major running event. In 2018 & 2019 we saw record crowds with upwards of 2,100 registrations, and for next year’s race we expect to be at our 2,500 runner capacity,” Clark added. 

“The Horsetooth Half is a wonderful community event that celebrates many of the things that make Fort Collins such a great town to live in and visit. We’ve got unbelievable scenery on a challenging course, a wonderful in-race atmosphere,incredible crowd support, the deepest elite field in Colorado half marathoning, and a memorable finish line party at New Belgium Brewing, the epicenter of the Fort Collins craft brewing scene,” Clark said.

“We’re also really excited about the great community partnerships that we’ve been building over the last couple of years among our sponsors and non-profit partners. It was fantastic to be able to make financial contributions to over a dozen non-profit groups and school cross country programs this year through the help of our corporate partners, and we plan to grow both the corporate and non-profit partnerships in 2020.”

The Fort Collins Running Club will support runners training for the race through its Horsetooth Half RunningU program, a free 15-week training program beginning in early January and leading up to the race. The training program includes weekly long runs every Sunday. A number of those runs will start and end at New Belgium, with presentations and drink specials after each one. The group training runs are open to everyone, whether registered for the race or not.

Along with the Horsetooth Half Marathon, the Fort Collins Running Club also puts on the FireKracker 5k, the New Year’s Eve Resolution Run 5k, and the Tortoise and Hare races, a series of seven handicapped races beginning in October and ending two weeks before the Horsetooth Half. The races range in distance from 4k (2.5 miles) to 12k (7.5 miles).

Patti Fiasco to Headline Post-Race Party

Hey music (and running) fans, we’re excited to announce that the post-race celebrations for the 45th running of Colorado’s oldest half marathon will be jet fueled by local rock n’ roll legends, The Patti Fiasco. Add in beer from New Belgium Brewing and burritos from Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant, and we’ve got ourselves a party. Music will run from 10:00am until the awards with a short set after the awards.

We’ll also have music out on course in strategic locations to keep you motivated all the way to the finish line where you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the music, food and post-race expo. Be sure to bring your friends and family!