A Race Recap of the 45th Running of the Horsetooth Half Marathon

It was another record year for the 45th running of the Horsetooth Half Marathon, with over 1,750 runners from more than 40 different states crossing the finish line. In both the men’s and women’s races it was a close run thing with tight podiums, lead changes and drama all the way to the finish.

In the men’s race, 2017 King of the Hill Tyler McCandless once again took it out hard from the gun, claiming the race premium for first man over the hill in a record 9:55 (5:40 pace). Eventual race winner Brandon Johnson (1:08:15) crossed the hill in sixth some 40 seconds back. Johnson would have to wait until mile 10 to claim the lead from last year’s champion and course record holder, Gebre Abadi (1:09:02), who would hold on for second place. Colorado Springs-based, Tesfaalem Mehari (1:09:37) ran a controlled race to round out the podium in third, with Scott Dahlberg (1:09:51) and Alejandro Garcia (1:10:28) following in fourth and fifth for the final money spots.

As in the men’s race, a new record was set for the Queen of the Hill with Boulder-based Kyle Blakeslee beating Sam Rivard to the top of Monster Mountain by some 18 seconds (11:49) and besting Brianne Nelson’s record from 2016. By mile 4, a sizable lead pack had formed with former winners Maggie Callahan and Nelson mixing it up with Blakeslee, Rivard, AnnMarie Kirkpatrick and Misiker Demessie. Once off the hills and onto the bike path at mile 9 it was local favorite Kirkpatrick and Ethiopian Demessie racing for the win with Rivard charging hard in third. Coming into the home stretch, Kirkpatrick was able to find the extra gear for the win in a time of 1:20:20 (second fastest ever), just 14 seconds ahead of Demessie in second and 30 seconds ahead of Rivard in third. Last year’s champ, Callahan would hold on for fourth (1:22:05) ahead of training partner Blakeslee in fifth (1:23:12).

Taking home the prize money in the men’s master’s division was local favorite and previous winner Steve Folkerts (1:22:58), who beat last year’s masters champ Dan Clark by less than a minute. In the women’s division, Fort Collins’ Jenny Powelka (1:35:55) finished just over two minutes ahead of Vail’s Katie Crofton. 

Overall and age group award winners took home beautiful pottery awards from famed local potter Amy Hayman. For those that weren’t able to collect their awards at the post-race prize giving, they are available for pickup for the next few weeks from Altitude Running, Fort Collins. And for those that did not get a commemorative pint glass at the finish, they are available for pickup at the New Belgium Brewing Tasting Room.

The deep field and fast times were aided by the perfect running conditions we were blessed with this year. Race morning temperatures ranged from the low 40s into the mid 50s and gave way to beautiful post-race conditions which were perfect for hanging out and enjoying music from The Patti Fiasco at the New Belgium Finish Line Party. Some years you get lucky!

  • Full results are available from the results page of the race website
  • Official race photos from our 5 race photographers are available here.

In closing, we’d like to thank all of our wonderful volunteers that helped out in many different capacities to help make the 2018 running of the race a success. Thank You! We’d also like to thank our seven wonderful top-tier sponsors who have supported this year’s event with total enthusiasm.

Please visit our sponsor page to see the full list of business sponsors and non-profit volunteer organizations who helped make this year’s race a success.


Fort Collins Running Club Announces 2018 Horsetooth Half Elite Field

The Horetooth Half Marathon will be awarding a record $8,000 in prize money this year, with generous support from the Fort Collins Running Club.

Overall awards for the 45th running of the event will go five deep. In the master’s division, payouts will go three deep, and – new this year – there will be a separate Fort Collins Running Club-only pool. In addition, the race will be awarding a $200 premium to the first man and first woman to the top of Monster Mountain at mile 1.8, some 500 feet above the race start on Dixon Canyon Drive. 

“The Fort Collins Running Club is committed to supporting runners of all ages, talent, and experience.  As part of our mission to support the elite side of the sport in Colorado, the Club has added an additional $4,000 to the 2018 Horsetooth Half prize purse, as well as increasing our support of local runners by offering cash awards for our top club members,” said Fort Collins Running Club Co-President, Kate Schulte.

“We love the Horsetooth Half course and  its vibe, and want to make it THE race for all Coloradoans, and even all U.S. runners, to add to their bucket list of races.  With a challenging and beautiful course,  the best post-race party in the state, and now with even more of the best talent in the area, the 45th running of the race is sure to be exciting!”

For full award details, including age group awards, please visit the awards section of the race website

Tyler McCandless (right) beats Gebre Abadi and Scott Dahlberg over the hill to win the 2017 King of the Hill prem.

Mens’s Field Summary

In 2017, we saw the top three men all go under the existing course record, with Gebre Abadi setting the new standard at 1:07:27. For the 45th running of the Horsetooth Half on April 15, 2018, we’re excited to be welcoming back the full 2017 podium. 

As the defending champion and course record holder, Gebre Abadi will be wearing the number one bib and he will be the man to beat. Denver-based Abadi looks to be in good form, with a 1:05 win at the January Carlsbad Half Marathon and a quick 14:20 at the Carlsbad 5,000 last month. 

Perhaps in even better recent form is Tyler McCandless. Second last year in 1:09:16, McCandless has since set a massive marathon PR while finishing second in the USATF Marathon Championships at the California International Marathon in December. His time of 2:12:28 is a true breakthrough performance and puts him among the best U.S. marathoners in the country, and surely suggests he will be in contention at the 2020 Olympic Trials qualifying race (location TBD).

University of Wyoming Assistant Track Coach, Scott Dahlberg, was just 8 seconds back of McCandless while finishing third last year. He too will be back to toe the line for the 45th running of the event after winning the Seattle Half Marathon in November. 

Other elite entrants that will be in the hunt for a podium finish include Brandon Johnson who, like McCandless, had a breakout run at the Cal International Marathon, debuting at the distance with an Olympic Trials qualifying time of 2:18:13. With a 1:05:11 half PR, we expect Brandon to be firmly in the mix. 

Previous course record holder, Paul Petersen, collects his 2017 age group award.

Others showing recent form include Bashash Walio, winner of the 2017 Fall Equinox Half Marathon (1:10:23) here in Fort Collins; Germay Tesfai, winner of the Two Cities Half Marathon in November with recent college (Chico State) PRs of 30:33 (10k) and 14:30 (5k); and Eddie Perez, who ran a 1:09:54 at the USA Half Marathon Invitational in San Diego. Alejandro Garcia was a 2017 DII All American and recently won the Spring Equinox Half Marathon (1:12:01) here in Fort Collins. Known more as a trail and mountain runner, former Pikes Peak Ascent winner (2:12, 2010) Timmy Parr is likely be looking to push the pace for the Monster Mountain premium. 

Others in the field with Horsetooth Half form include former course record holder (1:10:32) and multi-time winner (2013 & 2015), Paul Petersen; 2010 winner Steve Folkerts; 8th place finisher in 2017 Chris Copenhaver; and defending Master’s Champ Dan Clark

Women’s Field Summary

Maggie Callahan wins the women’s 2017 race.

Brianne Nelson reset the record books in 2016 with her amazing 1:16:44 run, which was not only good enough for the women’s win but indeed the overall race win. While we don’t think that Brianne will be taking home overall honors this year, we can’t help but think she’ll be the runner to beat in the women’s race.

Brianne Nelson on her way to an overall win in 2016, followed closely by Stephen Pretak in second.

However, last year’s winner Maggie Callahan may have a few things to say about that. And Fort Collins was a great venue for Maggie last year. Not only did she win the Horsetooth Half, but she also took home top honors in the inaugural Fortitude 10k Pro Chase and the Fort Collins Running Club’s July 4th FireKracker 5k Elite race.  

AnnMarie Kirkpatrick has been in great form since here 4th place finish at the Horsetooth Half last year. The highlight of AnneMarie’s 2017 running year was an Olympic Trials Qualifying run at the Cal International Marathon in December (2:44:51). And, with a 1:14:30 finish at the 2018 Houston Half Marathon in January, AnnMarie looks to be ready to go at least one better than her string of two consecutive fourth-place finishes at the Horsetooth Half in 2017 and 2016. 

Besting AnnMarie for third in 2016 was Ruth Waller-Liddle. A 800 meter standout at Baylor University, Ruth has been stepping up in distance in recent years and looks ready for another strong run at the Horsetooth Half this year. 

Adriana Nelson (nee Pirtea) has a marathon PR of 2:28 (London, 2008), a half marathon PR of 1:11 (New York, 2013), and finished second at the 2007 Chicago Marathon. In 2013, she won the USATF Half Marathon Championship (1:11) in Duluth. Adriana will be using the Horsetooth Half as her first race back from giving birth to her first child, AJ. She claims a lack of fitness, but all things are relative and we’re just excited to have such a world-class talent in the field.

Among those that are newcomers to the Horsetooth Half course are pro triathlete Uli Bromme, who has a marathon PR of 2:47 and a 2017 altitude half marathon win (1:24) at the Three Creeks Half Marathon. Kyle Blakeslee is a 7-Time DII All American and ran a 1:16:24 half marathon PR at the Houston Half Marathon in January. Caroline Veltri is also coming into the race with great recent form, winning the San Antonio Marathon (2:56) in December and running a 1:22 half marathon in Las Vegas in November. 

Strongest and Deepest Field Ever

Race Director, Nick Clark, believes that this will be the strongest and deepest Horsetooth Half field in the 45-year history of the race, noting, “with the generous support of the Fort Collins Running Club, we have been able to double the prize purse this year, which has enabled us to attract what we believe to be the deepest and strongest Horsetooth Half field ever, and among the strongest half marathon fields in the state this year.”

“While our focus for the race is primarily on providing a unique, fun and community-focused experience for all of our runners, we also have an opportunity to support the sport of running through the Running Club’s sponsorship of the prize purse and we hope to be able to continue to focus on developing the race as one of Colorado’s most competitive half marathons.”

“We think the race is going to be fiercely fought this year and we encourage running fans to come on out to spectate the race and see some of the fastest runners in the state compete.”