As most of you probably know, Alan King is the head cross country and distance track coach at Rocky Mountain College in Billings. Rocky is an NAIA school - and, in NAIA, they have a marathon as part of their national championships in outdoor track.
The kids can qualify by meeting standards in the full marathon or a half marathon. To help the kids in the Montana colleges meet the standard, Alan has hosted 2 qualifying races at the 1/2-marathon distance. They use a modified version of the Montana Marathon 1/2 course. They had the first race in mid-January; and, a second version was held this morning.
At the first event (billed as the Battlin' Bear Half Marthon), Shane Donaldson of Univeristy of Great Falls (1:15:37) and Noah Kirpono of Rocky (1:16:29) both met the men's "B" standard of 1:16:40. On the women's side, Amber Watson of Rocky got an automatic qualifier with her 1:25:49 ("A" std = 1:33:00).
This morning, Rocky held the RMC Spring Half Marathon and a couple of more runners got their qualifiers. On the men's side, Noah Kiprono lowered his January time and go the auto qualifier with his 1:12:43. Cullen Cantwell of UGF also got the auto qualifier with a 73:58 time (auto qualifier on the men's side = 1:14:00). For the women, Christina Bruce o UGF got a "B" time of 1:35:06.
But, the big news of the day was coach King. Taking advantage of a some nice tailwinds over the last half of the course, he set a 2:00 PR with his 67:28 performance. This come on the heels of his 69+ run at the Montana Marathon 1/2 in September, his 69+ 1/2 at Houston in January and a sub-16:00 solo 5K just a week ago. The mileage gods must have smiled on him to repay him for the efforts of providing opportunities for the states NAIA kids to qualify for nationals. Whatever the case, Alan has established himself as the man to beat in Montana this spring.
The Buzzard is looking forward to the first time this year that Alan, Jimmy Grant and/or Thomas Joidon get the chance to race each other. Should make for some smoking good times.
See you on the roads, tracks and trails.
The Muddy Buzzard.