A big, big weekend of racing coming up in the Big Sky as road racing kicks off as winter begins to fade. In fact, the pre-Saint Paddy’s Day weekend has turned into one of the busiest weekends of the entire year for Montana distance enthusiasts.
Perhaps the grand-daddy of them all would be the AOH (Ancient Order of the Hibernian’s) St. Patrick’s Day runs in Anaconda. Over the 30+ years that this race has been around, there have been some super competitive fields including many of the who’s who of Montana distance runners. I personally have some great memories of this race from the early and mid-80’s - great competition followed by some great post race socializing at the Locker Room bar (aka – throwin’ back a few brews and telling road race lies).
Another long time staple on the racing scene (and more geared to the eastern part of the state) is the Yellowstone Rim Runner’s Shamrock Run. This race serves as the club’s membership event and always draws a big group of Billings and Billings are runners. There was a period of about 15 years where this race served as my kick off the season. Fond memories indeed.
Then we get into some of the newer events on the schedule. There’s the Run To The Pub in Bozeman for Bobcat fans and the Run For the Luck of It in Missoula for the Griz (which starts and finishes at Sean Kelly’s Irish Pub) ……………………..hmmmmmm – seems to be a bit of a malt beverage theme in the college towns :D
And, let’s not forget the March Meltdown in Polson; the Saint Patrick’s Day Dash in Great Falls (a benefit for the UGF track & XC programs); or, the Lucky Leprechaun Fest in Helena (a benefit for Eagle Mount Helena – a great program that provides outdoor recreation opportunities for folks with various disabilities).
With cabin fever setting in, lots of folks look forward to getting out and putting on their racing shoes during this weekend. Some will use the races just to get the season started. Others are using the events as tune-ups for Boston or other spring marathons. Some will be running their first ever road race and getting indoctrinated into the wonderful sport that the Buzzard enjoys so much.
Regardless, this weekend starts to set the stage for who’s going to be the hot runner’s for the season. Expect to see names like King, Hunt, Grant, Newton, Jodoin, Judge, Braun, Strode, Bazzanella, Gibson, et al at the front of the fields. And, who knows - maybe some new names will emerge as "leaders of the pack". No matter what the case, it should be a fun weekend.
The Buzzard can only say one thing – Run Hard, Run Fast, Run Happy
See you on the roads, track and trails
The Muddy Buzzard