As part of the post-race discussions about the Montana Men's Master's Mile (M4), Ray Hunt posed the invitation for all of the master's milers to enter the Wulfman CDT 14-K Trail Race in June. I'm sure that Ray's intent is to not only promote the race (of which he is race director); but, to also promote head to head competition between the old farts. And, I whole-heartedly concur with that concept.
In fact, I would like to take it even one step further. As I've developed my Runner's Of The Year recognition over the last couple of years, one of the things that I've noticed is that there is some limited head to head racing over the year. That makes it a bit of a challenge to really figure out the rankings. The master's men are probably the most consistent in meeting en mass at events; but, after that, we don't see quite as many of the folks showing up to the same events.
Yes, I know that traveling to races can be a challenge. As someone who lived in Billings for 16 years (and now 4+ years in NW Montana), I know all too well what it takes to attend the big events. But, it can be done. I think it was 2002 when I traveled from Billings to Missoula to run the Riverbank 10K (while my son ran the 5K). We turned around shortly after the race and I did the Peaks To Prairie run leg (8.8 miles) the next day. If you really want to race and race against the best, it means a bit of planning and scheduling.
Plus, when we have folks race head to head, it makes the sport more interesting. Sure, it's great to get the win at the local 5K Fun Run. And, those are generally great events to support with proceeds going to good causes. And, those races can be great tune-up and sharpening events. But, if you really want to test your mettle - show up at the big events where you know that you'll be challenged.
To that end - here's my idea of where to go to meet the best. (Up front disclaimer - I may have missed an event or two - if so, let me know. I've tried to list them chronologically; but, may be off a bit. This is just an old, dirty bird's thoughts on how to encourage some great competition between the men and women of the Big Sky state.)
Snow Joke Half Marathon - Seeley Lake
AOH St. Patrick's Day 3-Mile or 6-Mile - Anaconda
Ice Breaker 5-Mile - Great Falls
Riverbank Run 10K (or Trifecta) - Missoula
Bloomsday 12K - Spokane
Montana Women's Run 2-Mile or 5-Mile - Billings
Don't Fence Me In Trail 12K or 30K - Helena
Governor's Cup 5K or 10K - Helena
Wulfman CDT 14-K Trail Race - Butte
Beartooth Run 8.2 Mile - Red Lodge
Missoula Marathon Full or Half Marathon - Missoula
Bozeman Classic 5K - Bozeman
Roots Festival 4-Mile - Missoula
Montana Marathon Full or Half Marathon - Billings
Missoula All Women's 5K (Diva Day) - Missoula
Montana Cup XC - Various
Veteran's Day 5-Mile - Butte
So, that's 18 events across all parts of the state. It includes a wide variety of distances, XC to Trail to Mountain to Road, and spread from February to November. Plenty of opportunities and options to hit multiple of these events through the year.
If you're really interested in competition and want to see how you stack up against your fellow athletes, I would encourage you to think about putting as many of these races on your schedule as you can. Then, lace up your racing shoes, run like hell and let the best runner win.
See you on the roads, tracks and trails
The Muddy Buzzard