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Soulstice Trail Run 11 mile and 10K moves to Government Prairie

Northern Arizona Trail Runners Association members do a practice run through Government Prairie. (Photo/NATRA)

Northern Arizona Trail Runners Association members do a practice run through Government Prairie. (Photo/NATRA)

PARKS, Ariz. — The Soulstice Mountain Trail Run is moving to a new home.

The popular 10k and 11 mile annual race is moving from Flagstaff to Parks Oct. 8 because of the forest closures from the San Francisco Peak's fires and flooding. The new race course will go through Government Prairie.

In its 23rd year, the Soulstice run is a small but popular race hosted by Northern Arizona Trail Runners Association (NATRA).

Soulstice has been a high-altitude footrace held on forest service roads and trails with course elevations between 7,900 and 8,800 feet, however, with the change of venue the course will now be in the prairie west of the San Francisco Peaks.

“This year its going to be fast and furious out in the prairie,” said NATRA director Neil Weintraub.

The Soulstice Mountain Trail Run was originally conceived when William Ring, Wiley Addis and Paul Brinkmann returned home from the Imogene Pass Run believing it could be Flagstaff's version of the famous run from Ouray to Telluride.

In 2002, NATRA took over the event and added a shorter 6 mile course to encourage beginners to try competitive trail running. The race is limited to 225 entrants, and since 2003, has been a sellout. It is currently sold out.

“We want people in Parks to know this is a small, boutique-style race with limited runners,” Weintraub said.

He said the race should be low impact on the community and only last about two hours.

“People are spread out and it’s a pretty quiet event,” he said.

Weintraub said he is excited to hold the event in Kaibab National Forest, where he recently retired as the area archaeologist.

“That whole area has a lot of history,” Weintraub said. “You will see rock piles from homesteaders who grew potatoes and wheat out there. There are also volcanic vents and clearly plowed fields and foundations of homesteads.”

Weintraub said the Beale Wagon Road also passes through that area of Kaibab National Forest and is maintained as a recreational trail. This 23-mile stretch of Beale’s route includes segments that are still being used as rural byways.

“Lieutenant Beale brought his camels through here as an experiment, he got the first federal funding to build a wagon road 1857-1859, you can see the ruts of the trail east of the course,” he said.

Weintraub said the original roadbed can be seen as a slight depression in the rocky soil or as two lines of rocks setting a straight course across the prairie.

The Soulstice Mountain Trail Run is held in the memory Weintraub’s mother Jacqueline. Known to Flagstaff runners as Jackie, Neil’s mom was a lifelong supporter of his running endeavors beginning with his first 15K at only 12 years old.

In 2012, Runners World listed Soulstice as one of the top 32 trail races in the United States, calling it “one of the best post race parties anywhere.”

All of the proceeds from Soulstice, and the post-race raffle benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff (BBBSF). Weintraub joined the Board of Directors shortly a month before running his first Soulstice race in 2001, and became a volunteer school-based mentor in 2002. Seeing the importance of mentorship to children in need, Weintraub has voluntarily directed both the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff Half Marathon and Soulstice to raise funds in support of BBBSF programs. To donate visit www.flagstaffbigs.org/donate.

More information about the Soulstice Mountain Trail Run can be found at www.natra.org.

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