Night Crawler 12-hour overnight challenge returns tomorrow

Night Crawler 12-Hour Endurance Challenge organizer Justin Kinner poses at the arena behind the Casper Mountain Trails Center last week. Kinner started the overnight endurance trail race last year. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

Justin Kinner has the ultra running bug. Big time.

The high school Nordic ski instructor has always been athletic. When his brother convinced him to try an ultra marathon in 2012, he was hooked.

“You kind of have to have a few screws loose,” said Kinner about the rapidly growing endurance sport.

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To foster the ultra running and trail running community, Kinner dreamt up a 12-hour overnight race on Casper Mountain in September 2017. The weather didn’t cooperate.

“It was kind of crummy weather,” remembers Kinner, “but people are coming back for it.”

This year, the Nightcrawler 12-hour Endurance Challenge is starting a little earlier.

This Friday at 6:30 p.m. runners will take off from the ski arena behind the Casper Mountain Trails Center and run a course until 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

Runners have daylight for the first couple of hours, which should help them get orientated with the course according to Kinner. They change directions after each completion and continue on with headlamps through the night.

“Running at night, a lot changes. Trails don’t look the same at night, you see little moving eyes…” said Kinner.

Along with the mental fatigue, nighttime running takes a different toll on the body.

“Your body responds to calories differently,” said Kinner. “Your body doesn’t typically need to drink or eat as many calories at night, so there’s a lot you have to juggle and manage.”

The Night Crawler has options for solo and team runners, and contestants can run the lap as little or often as they choose. Family and friends are also encouraged to participate with aid stations and support.

The race is an outgrowth of a booming community of trail and ultra runners in Casper.

“There’s just so much about this whole sport and lifestyle that’s so intriguing,” said Kinner.

Kinner says the trail running community in Casper is booming. Enthusiasts regularly meet on Casper Mountain for runs. “It’s all about community and bringing that trail running community together.”

“It’s been really phenominal and fun to watch that community grow,” said Kinner.

The Third Annual Night Crawler 12-Hour Endurance Challenge starts Friday, August 23rd at 6:30PM behind the Casper Mountain Trails Center. Late registration can be done at packet pick-up Thursday Aug. 22. Runners can find more information here. 

The start line and support tent are seen during the first evern Night Crawler event last year. (Courtesy Justin Kinner)