If it's not obvious, let me be clear - the sport of running is my passion. From top to bottom. The training, the racing, the supplemental work. The shoes. Love me a good running specialty store. Watching a race/meet at almost any level. Race directing. Coaching. There's pretty much nothing about the sport that I find to be negative.
But the most positive aspect of the sport is the people. The friendships, acquaintances and connections that I've made in my time in the sport (going on some 35 years now) are invaluable. And, that all comes together at the Montana Cup.
Had the opportunity to host Alan King and his Billings team overnight before the cup. That group included Zach Hunter. Both Al and Zach were part of the Church Of The Blue Dome's Sunday Morning Run Club during my days in Billings. They were also part of the "Church Camp" at Dave Coppock's cabin in Cooke City in 2007 right before I moved to Plains.
I was able to run the last 2K of the race yesterday with the oldest of my running friends, Jeff Thomas. We first met in 1978 and have been running pals ever since. We used to run side by side at the front of races; now, not so much. But, it was great to be able to cross the finish line with Jeff.
I first met Tim Brooker back in the mid 80's when I first got married and we lived in Plains the first time. Now, I get the pleasure of being able to spend time with the whole family - Carol, Anders and Meg.
All in one day I get to connect (however briefly) with so many other friends like Ray & Nicole Hunt (and the twins), Jacque Maillet, Big Bird Jodoin Casey Jermyn, Pat Judge, Shaun Marshall-Pryde, Dewey Peacock, Scott Creel, Mary Thane, Evan Eck, Michelle Bazzanella, Kent Hoffmeyer and Suzie Kaluza.
Plus, all the new friends that I've been able to make over the last few years while living in Plains. Mike Foote, the Morleys (Steve, Jill, Makena, Logan, Bryn), Pat Cross, Tara Browning, Kevin Plumage, Trish and Andry Drobeck, Tim Mosbacher, Jenny Newton, Jimmy Grant and Andy Tucknott.
How about the folks from the little known Clark Fork Valley Running Club and all that they did to help put the race together. The Naegeli family (Bill, Sarah & Logan); Kathy Conlin; my XC runners Kayla Holmes, Aaron Garrison and Russell Kujala; T Falls XC runners Kelsie Luckie and Abby Croft; Denise Montgomery; Ernie and Marti Shertzer; Gena Ferlan; Dave and Nancy Mackenzie; and, my wife Erin and her mom Peg.
With special mention to my wife Erin McCarthy. She agreed to take on the timing and results efforts. Even though her life is more than filled with work activities right now. But, she stepped up to the plate, learned the timing program and killed it with taking care of the results on race day. Thank you to the love of my life.
Here's just the most classic example of what a great group the running community is. As I'm working with Erin to verify results and address a couple of post-race issues, I look up across the course. And, what do I see. Groups of runners from Bozeman, Missoula and Helena coming back with armloads of course marking materials. They took it upon themselves to clean up the course as part of their cool-downs. It was a race director's dream.
Yeah, this post has all the delusional ramblings of a mad-man whose been holed up in rural NW Montana for too long. But, I just had to take a minute to throw down a few thoughts on how lucky I am to be part of this amazing community of distance runners. Thank you for letting me continue to be part of your circle and for allowing me to continue to pursue my passion.
See you on the roads, tracks and trails
The Muddy Buzzard