Wait no more - the 2009 Muddy Buzzard Masters Runners Of The Year selections are ready to be unveiled.
The master's selctions were pretty muddy (no pun intended); but, still were a bit clearer than the open men. But, for the most part, the master's dudes didn't race a whole bunch. That makes it a bit tougher to analyze results. It also means a limited number of head to head comparisons that can be made. But, as with the open men - there was still enough racing and comparative performances to make a semi objective, quasi rational, seat of the pant choice.
Also, as with the open division, my analysis here is limited to the men only. Just didn't have the time to double the tracking and analyzing of the performances. Maybe for 2010 - we'll see.
But, on to the slections.
The clear choice (at least to me) had to be the Waterloo Wizard (or is it the Deer Lodge Demon?) - Ray Hunt. He didn't race a lot (Ray never does). And, we know that he fights a variety of leg issues. But, he has clearly developed a training program that maximizes his limited running volume and gets him incredibly fit. When Ray shows up at a race - you know that he is there, fit and ready for bizness.
How about this for a list of performances. 2nd (by a scant 0.2 seconds) to Peter Dan Sullivan at the Montana Men's Master Mile (MMMM) in 4:40.6. 2nd overall and first master (2nd to Thomas Jodoin - #2 in the open men rankings) at the AHO St. Paddy's Day Run in Anaconda - 15:09. 3rd overall and 1st master at the Octoberfest 5K XC in Bozeman in 16:55. And, perhaps his best run of the year - 5th overall and 1st Master at the Montana Cup in 21:24 (just a mere 18 seconds behind the winning time of Alan King) (and beating such athletes as Mike Foote, Thomas Jodoin, Dewey Peacock and Mike Telling (master)).
His only "off" performance was a 5th place master's finish in the Wulfman CDT 14K trail. But, that comes after acting as race director, setting up the race course, making sure everyone got out and started on the course, and making sure that the event was fully underway. A tough way to get prepped to race.
But, Ray was clearly capable of winning the master's division (and being compeitive on the overall level) of any race that he entered. At this point, he is clearly the standard bearer for men master's runners in Big Sky country.
#2 on the list goes to Mike Telling of Dillon. He perhaps races even more infrequently than Ray. But, he too runs super fast when he gets to the line. 2nd overall at Jim Bridger (behind Dewey Peacock) in 1:24:40, 7th overall and 1st Master at Wulfman in 60:36 and 14th overall and 2nd Master at Montana Cup in 22:10.
In spite of his limited racing, Mike deserves a place at the top of the list based on the high level of his performances. Much like Ray, when Mike shows up, he's going to be at the top of the list in the masters race; and, he'll be competitive in the open division as well.
#3 was a tough choice. In the mix were Kyle Strode of Helena (thanks to Big Bird for catching my ommission in my initial post), John Herring and Kevin Plumage of Missoula, and Kirk Keller of Three Forks. In the end, the nod goes to Kyle Strode.
Kyle's racing was mostly earlier in the year; but, it was all top quality. 4th overall at the MMMM in 4:56. 1st Masters at Snow Joke in 1:22:12. 8th overall and 1st Master at Ice Breaker, 4th overall and 1st master at Don't Fence Me in 30K; and, his crowning race of the year - 2nd overall and 1st Master at Couer d' Alene (spelling???) in a spectactular 2:49:41. Great string of races for Kyle.
#4 is Kirk Keller. Kirk is a tough, gritty competitor. That pushed him to a pair of top 10 overall finishes at Wulfman (9th overall, 2nd Master, 63:58) and the Bozeman Classic (9th overall, 1st master, 17:58) and a 5th place masters finish at Montana Cup (23:03). It's a stunning display of the fact that the "big 5-0" doesn't have to be all about black baloons :-)
5th on the list falls to John Herring. With a range of 5:03 in the mile to 2:56 in the marathon, he wasn't afraid to get in the mix, regardless of the distance. Top performances for John included his 8th overall and 3rd master in the Riverbank Run Trifecta (including 17:34 5K and 36:23 10K), his 3rd place masters finish at Wulfman and his 10th overall/1st Master in the Missoula Marathon in 2:56:53.
Ever so close behind John at #6 was fellow Missoulian Kevin Plumage. 4th Master at the Riverbank 10K (37:20), 4th Master at Missoula Marathon (2:58:34) and 3rd Master at the Roots Festival 4-miler (23:24). All of these were also top 20 overall finishes.
Some other grat performances came from guys like Jeff Braun of Butte who came on real strong at the end of the year to get 4th Master at Roots Festival and MT Cup.
How about Peter Dan Sullivan of Helena? PDS won the MMMM at 4:40.2, was 4th overall in the Governor's Cup 5K in 17:24 and was the masters champ at the Mount Helena race.
Ed Detzi led the Montana Masters at Bloomsday with his 44:36, followed closey by the buzzard himself at 45:09 and Tim Dumas at 45:27.
The Buzzard also had a 1:23 half marathon leg in the first half of the Montana Marathon relay and a 3rd place overall at the Big Butte Challenge.
So, there you have it. As the Sue Sylvester character on Glee would say - That's how the Buzzard C's it.
Looking for a great year from all these guys in 2010. Plus we get the addition of Pat Judge of Helena added to the masters ranks this year. Should be exciting.
See you on the roads, tracks and trails
The Muddy Buzzard