Just like the open men, the top choice here was extremely difficult. The master's ranks amongst the Montana men has gotten to be extremely deep and competitive. The top 2 were especially hard to separate out. Neither raced a lot. And, they were 1-1 in their 2012 head to head match-ups. But, in the end, the Buzzard made a hard call; and...............................................
#1, by the slimmest of margins goes to 44-year old Steve Morley of Bigfork. (And, that makes a unique father-daughter ranking, with Makena getting the #3 spot on the open women's side.) Again, Steve doesn't race a lot; but, when he does, he's ready to run fast; and, he's still able to be competitive on the open side. Some of the top performances of his year were:
1st overall @ Roodell Run 5K in 16:44
1st overall @ Whitefish Legacy 11K in 40:51
1st overall @ Summit Classic 10K in 35:14
3rd overall & 1st master @ Boogie To The Bank 5K in 15:40
3rd overall & 1st master @ Whitefish Lake Run 5K in 16:44
4th overall & 1st master @ Huffing For Stuffing 5K in 18:21
3rd Montanan and 4th in the 40-44 Age Group @ Bloomsday in 40:51
12th overall and 2nd master at MT Cup in 22:12
Steve was 1-1 in head to head duels with Scott Creel of Bozeman. Their wins were only on the order of a couple of seconds in each case. The deciding factor was probably the Bloomsday performance and the number of overall wins that he scored. And, his MT Cup performance was within a minute of the winner - showing that he's a solid performer regardless of the level of competition.
As suggested by the above comments, the #2 slot goes to 50-year old Scott Creel of Bozeman. Due to some knee issues (aka lack of cartilage), Scott really reduced his racing last year. But, when he was on, he still showed the signs of his brilliance, strength and determination. Highlights for Scott included:
2nd @ Montana Men's Master's Mile (M4) @ 4:41.20
5th overall and 2nd Master @ Run To The Pub 1/2-Marathon in 76:59
2nd overall and 1st Master @ Wind Drinker Stampeded 10K in 35:27
2nd Master at Huffing For Stuffing 5K in 18:33
2nd overall and 1st Master @ Oktoberfest 8K in 27:00
9th overall and 1st Master @ Montana Cup in 22:07
At 47, Ray Hunt of Deer Lodge is no stranger to the rankings. For 2012, he comes in at #3. Ray races a bit selectively; but, he is one tough, gutsy competitor.
4th overall and 1st master @ AOH 3mile in 15:40
9th @ M4 @ 4:55.46
2nd overall and 1st master @ Frigid Digger 5K in 17:46
3rd overall and 1st master @ Ice Breaker 3-Mile in 16:10
3rd overall and 1st master @ Governor's Cup 5K in 17:14
5th overall and 1st master @ Wulfman in 59:52
5th overall and 1st master @ Riverbank Run 5K in 15:57
3rd master @ Montana Cup in 23:07
5th overall and 2nd master @ 11 Miles To Paradise in 1:10
It was a pretty impressive year for Ray. But, he was 0-2 against Creel and 0-1 against Morley - so, he just couldn't quite get over the hump to make the top 2.
A guy who continues to run well as a master is 42-year old Pat Judge of Helena; and, he comes in at #4 for 2012. He had some great performances; but, with a 0-2 record against Ray and 0-1 against Steve and Scott, he drops 2 places from his #2 ranking last year.
1st overall @ Roodell Run 10K in 35:17
5th overall and 2nd master @ AOH 3-Mile in 16:18
Mountain West Track Classic 1600 Meters in 4:46.84
4th @ M4 in 4:41.99
4th overall and 1st master @ Governor's Cup 10K in 36:23
4th master @ Montana Cup in 23:26
The big surprise on the master's men's side is @ #5 - that being 52-year old Marvin Speece of Butte. Marvin doesn't get the respect that he probably deserves. And, in spite of being the oldest of the rankers, he had a fantastic year. How about these performances.
6th overall and 3rd master @ AOH 3-Mile in 16:37
6th overall and 2nd master @ Ice Breaker 3-Mile in 17:07
8th overall and 3rd master @ Governor's Cup 5K in 18:32
1st master @ Roots Festival 4-Mile in 23:08
3rd master @ Wulfman in 67:29
2nd master @ Riverbank Run 10K in 36:26
2nd overall and 1st master @ Portland Marathon Downhill Dash 10K in 36:25
Just outside of the top 5 were some impressive athletes, including the likes of Kyle Strode, Peter Dan Sullivan, Scott Gaiser, Ed Detzi and Scott Sneddon. With the 2013 M4 already in the books, it's clear that this year is going to be equally competitive for the old farts.
See you on the roads, tracks and trails
The Muddy Buzzard