Earlier this month, the RRCA announced its Fall 2016 Runner Friendly Communities. To better celebrate the communities that have been selected, and to encourage other communities to apply, we're spotlighting them with profiles of what made them worthy of this designation.
FORT COLLINS, COLORADO
Located sixty-five miles from Denver, Fort Collins is the fourth largest city in Colorado, and the most populous municipality in Larimer County with a population of 161,000. Despite first being established as a military outpost, the city is much more identifiable as a college town today, due to the presence of Colorado State University. Located at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, Fort Collins is also home to two bodies of water, the Cache La Poudre River and Springs Creek. All of these factors have an influence in what makes Fort Collins, CO a Runner Friendly Community.
Fort Collins has invested in making big swaths of the city accessible to runners. There is currently a trail system that stretches over 40-miles, and that number is growing. Runners are able to complete more than 20-miles on a pedestrian network before it completely ends. RRCA member, Fort Collins Running Club, works with the City of Fort Collins to utilize the trail system for monthly Tortoise and Hare events that range in distances from 4K to 12K and are open to anyone in the community.
Running is deeply rooted in the culture of Fort Collins, which is evident through the city’s commitment to youth fitness. The local high schools all have competitive track and field teams, and most of the elementary schools have after school running programs to get kids ready for local 5K races. The Fort Collins Running Club developed their “Running U” program; pairing beginning runners with a mentor who helps them prepare for their first 5K race. This initiative, along with other efforts, has seen the club increase from 100 members in 2010 to over 600 currently.
This enthusiasm for running is also seen in Fort Collins’ business community. Runner's Roost Running Store, Altitude Running Store, Colorado in Motion Physical Therapy, and the Fort Collins Brewery and Tavern all sponsor running events and host group runs. Mary's Mountain Cookies provides donations and also displays posters promoting races and group runs. Raintree Athletic Club provides trial memberships to runners and holds expos for local races. Additionally, the New Belgium Brewery hosts training runs, while Coopersmith's Pub and Snowbank Brewery offers discounts after group runs.
“I have been a resident of Fort Collins for 40 years and a runner in the community for 24 years. I ran my first marathon in 1992 (NYC), and I’ve enjoyed participating in the races put on by the Fort Collins Running Club,” explained John Kefalas, Colorado State Senator (District 14). “The factors outlined in the application along with a climate that allows the runners like me to run the majority of the year make our wonderful city an excellent choice for the designation of Runner Friendly Community.”
Community leaders providing support and letters of recommendation include: John Kefalas - Colorado State Senator, Wade Troxell - Mayor of Fort Collins, Ron Baker - Founder Green Events, Dan Berlin – President of Fort Collins Running Club, Jeffrey Carney - Owner, Altitude Running.