It's unique. It's super-competitive. It's a lung-burning, gut-busting batch of fun being held over 8 laps of the Montana State University track. It's in its 8th year and it's happening this Firday night. So..............what is it?????
It's the Montana Men's Master's Mile - aka "The M4". It's the brainchild of the manic, crazed, loveable John Zombro. What it's really about is finding the best of the best of Montana's runners who are 35 and older; putting them on the track over the magic distance of one mile; and, see who's February's Fastest Old Man.
Some great names of Montana master's running and racing have taken part: Hunt, Thomas, Strode, Judge, Kenworthy, Keller, Banovich, Braun, Demetriades, et al..........They've all raced the M4. They've all felt the pain. They've all had words with the gorilla on their back.
But, over the first 7 editions this race has belonged to two men - Scott Creel and Peter Dan Sullivan. Creel is an animal at many distances; but, is perhaps best known for his mastery of the Ridge Run in Bozeman. PDS is the cheetah amongst the gazelles. He's built for speed and loves the mid-distance stuff on the track.
Scott won the first 3 editions, including the meet record of 4:33.7 from year 2 in 2006. PDS has won the last 4 years. Between them, they have all 6 of the sub-4:40 times that have been run (each with 3). All the more impressive considering that Scott is 49 and PDS is 47. Impressive indeed.
Thanks to the continued support of the Montana State Track & Field program, this year's M4 will take place as part of the Bozeman Running Company Dual Meet Invitational (Friday the 10th). The race is scheduled to take place right at 7:00 - immediately after the singing of the National Anthem. Heeding the call will be:
Peter Dan Sullivan - Helena - 47 - 4-time defending champion. The nicest, happiest miling bad-ass that you'll ever meet. With 4:38's in 2010 and 2011, PDS is showing no signs of slowing down; and, unless something freakish happens - expect to see him near the front of the race right from the gun.
Scott Creel - Bozeman - 49. Event record holder. A racing animal with an unparalelled pain tolerance. Coming off a great 2011 season, will Scott come back to gain his 4th title?
Jesse Zentz - Helena - 35. An M4 rookie. Returning to Montana after several years as a journalist in Boise, Jesse has made his mark on the Montana scene over the last year. But, given his success as a West High Bear and a UM Grizzly - what else would you have expected.
Pat Judge - Helena - 41. The heart and soul of the Vigilante Runner's - Pat has had a resurgence in his running since turning 40. Could this be the year that Pat joins the sub-4:40 club?
Rob Walker - Bozeman - 43. Will Walker's strong performance at the 2011 MT Cup parlay itself into a fast mile? Can he break his streak of two straight 4:43's and get close to the magic 4:40 mark?
Kyle Strode - Helena - 47. Kyle has shown his skills from the Mile to the Marathon. If Kyle's healthy enough to toe the line, you knnow he's ready to be a factor in the race.
Shaun Marshall-Pryde - Bozeman - 48. The blonde bombshell moves away from the Biathlon to the one-dimensional, banked board lung busting.
Steve Bruner - Bozeman - 41. Consistent at times between 4:58 and 5:03, Bruner will be looking to move to the next level and a sub-4:46 (sub-74 pace).
Chris Colberg - Helena - 40. Another of the Team Vig crew and M4 virgin. Will his bald pate hold off the flowing locks of SMP???
Jeff Braun - Butte - 47. Like Pat Judge, Braun has seen some of his best racing since in the last couple of years. Can he get his first sub-5:00 at M4?
Dean Lipp - Missoula - 50. In his 2nd M4, can Dean get a sub-5:00 at 50?
Mark Slater - Bozeman - 50. A guy who doesn't race a lot. But, once he get's that big frame rolling, he's hard to stop. And, still competitive at 50.
Steve Gideon - Darby - 50?. Steve has some wheels at 400 and 800. Can he transfer his coaching skills from his high school athletes and pull off a sub-5:00?
Clint May - Bozeman - ??. Clint has really proven himself as a coaching genius with his championships squads from Bozeman High. But, he's not a regular on the racing circuit........so, he's perhaps the biggest unkown in the field.
James Walker - Utah - ??. aka Zombro's Ringer. Living in Utah now, Jim has solid ties to MSU. Can he parlay his knowledge of exercise science to a fast time?
Ray Hunt - Deer Lodge - 46. The ultimate sandbagger. Known to shoot flames out of his ass in the last 400. Ray is a racing fool - don't ever count him out when he's on the line.
So, there you go - 2012's M4 Field of Stallions. Who will come out on top in the year of the 'stache? I'll get results up here and on 406running.com as soon as I can.
In the meantime, check out these fun video's from the 2011 event. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTvV8Vf627U&feature=related and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaYogmmYY_0&feature=related
The Muddy Buzzard.