With the Quad Rock right around the corner, I figure someone has to offer a practical preview for people like me. Burch, Clark and Pete have offered their perspective, but here's how I'd run this one.
Fort Collins has some great breweries (in case you haven't heard...) but most aren't open late. Check out Equinox for the best brews in town, it's open until 9pm. If you can make it to FoCo early enough I recommend the O'Dell/Equinox double. If you're wondering "well geez, should I really drink heavily before Quad Rock?" the answer is yes. Let me put it this way, you aren't going to beat Gunshow Burch on his home trails, and there is no prize for 68th place. We've got a lot more to offer than trails here (ie; beer). Indulge in both. (What's that thing Killian says, "more hangover, more fun"?)
* From what I understand (I've not attempted a QR loop) the course starts with a few runnable miles. Enjoy them. Our little climbs might not look like much compared to the more drastic profiles of San Juan Solstice etc... but they will add up. (The climb up Mill Creek is intimidating enough that in 2 years of living here, I've never run up it. The climbs up Saw Mill and Horsetooth aren't that bad, but they aren't that nice either.) At least you'll get to go down them next time around. My advice: Once the trail turns upward, start hiking. Repeat.
* Hiking poles are "illegal" in this race (The Great Nick Clark don't need no stinkin wizard sticks, and neither should you!), for a small fee I'll happily stash your poles a hew hundred feet up the first climb before the race, and collect them from the top of the last climb after the race. A little civil disobedience never hurt anybody, right?
* In my experience, the key to a successful long run in Horsetooth is patience and food. You'll have to supply the patience, but the aid stations should be stocked up. Anything you don't eat will end up in Nick's belly, and a fat Nick is a slow Nick.
* If you follow the course markings closely you'll probably only get lost once or twice. Don't freak out when this happens, you won't end up in RMNP or Wyoming as our trail system is self contained. Just keep going until you find an aid station (don't look confused when you get there) and pretend nothing happened.
* Fort Collins isn't Boulder, so for most of the race you won't encounter people that aren't with the race. The exception to this rule is the Southridge/Horsetooth climb. These people will go into shock if you tell them you are running 50 miles, so don't. We wouldn't want the ambulances wasted on weekend hikers.
I'm not encouraging anyone to leave the race scene early, Lory will be a wonderful host for a post race picnic. Pateros Creek will have 3.2% beer at the finish line, but after running 50 miles you might be interested in some watered down libations - New Belgium is open until 6 if you can get there in time. My favorite post race food is pizza, and your best bet in town is Beau Jo's in Old Town (which happens to be about a block from Equinox!). For those of you who are cheap like me, try Lucky Joe's as your post race bar - the atmosphere is chill and the peanuts are free.