In October 2001, a few members of what has now grown to become NATRA LLC, (Because trail runners do it NATRAlly), became friends at a small trail race in Flagstaff At the time, the Soulstice Mountain Trail Run (a 11 mile course) stood as one of the few trail running races ever staged in Flagstaff. It was first organized in 1997 by Bill Ring of the Soulstice Racing Company with 34 entrants. Put on by NATRA LLC since 2002, the race's 225 runner limit is reached on an April 1st lottery drawing. The race annually raises about $15,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff programs that create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth.
After the 2001 race, a few runners wondered why Imogene Pass Run annually drew 200 Flagstaff runners to Colorado, but we could not get more than 35 runners to Soulstice. To bring attention to the scenic trails of Flagstaff, the Saturday group runs were born on October 27, 2001, with a fledgling group of only 6 runners. 15 years later, NATRA maintains an email list of 700 runners. There is no cost for participation. We have held group runs every Saturday for 15+ years, even in wind, rain and snow (and in blizzard conditions at -15 degrees). We only cancel group runs in favor of local running races. The Saturday run is comprised of anywhere from 10 to 20 runners of varying ages and abilities and the run is anywhere from 5 to 8 miles. In short, no matter what your running capability, you are welcome and would surely have someone to run with. Anyone visiting our web page or “catching wind” of our runs is welcome to come out and join the group.Details of these runs are posted under "Next Run."
Besides the Saturday group run, NATRA LLC also helps organize five special FREE fun runs for the community - New Years Day Resolution Run, the July 4th Randy Wilson Memorial Four on the Fourth, Flagstaff Road and Track Club's Turkey Day 2-mile Predictor Run, and a Christmas Day Run. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have also created the "Take a Walk in the Woods" Free Virtual Challenge.
In 2005, NATRA LLC co-founded the idea of consolidating Flagstaff's longest enduring non-profit fundraising races into the "Run Flagstaff Summer Series". NATRA now organizes the series every year that includes the Run for the Mountain, Sacred Mountain Prayer Run, Northland Hospice Run for Life, Machine Solutions Run for the Kids, Big Brothers Big Sisters Half Marathon, and finally, the epic Gaspin in the Aspen races. Now more than 200 runners register for the full series. See below for a history of the Series.
In addition, NATRA LLC partners with Flagstaff Biking Organization to help with their trail construction and maintenance events. Thanks to the efforts of David McKee, NATRA also has helped with the Picture Canyon clean up effort for the past decade, helping restore and preserve one of Flagstaff's premier archaeological sites. In 2017, NATRA became a Limited Liability Company.
History of War Dog
Every year on the first Sunday in October, Flagstaff runners informally meet at Schultz Tank to run roughly a half marathon up 3000 ft. to Doyle Saddle and back. The run is a celebration of fall as Flagstaff trail runners make their yearly jaunt at the height of the golden fall foliage. The only prize is the highly coveted “Band-Aid” award to the runner who sheds the most blood. Original War Dogs Rusty Knott, Dave Knutson, and NolanGreyson organized the first race on September 20, 1981, with Nike and Coors sponsors of one of the first trail races of its time. In the video below, Rusty Knott discusses the colorful history of War Dog, and trail running in Flagstaff. Today, some of the original War Dog runners still participate! Thanks to War Dog race veteran Paul Baltutis, we now have the a copy of the 1981 Entry form, a picture of the original shirt, the original final results and the 1982 entry form! Runners now bring their favorite beverages and the post-race gathering at Schultz Tank has started to see some haute cuisine. The race has gone down in price from its $3 dollar 1981 entry fee. The War Dog Run is free to anyone who wants to meet at 8:45 AM on the first Sunday in October at Schultz Tank. It’ll take your breath away and yet make you return for more next year!