Monday, December 29, 2008

Is Winter Almost Over Yet?????

Let me start by saying that I am a believer in the messages delivered by Al Gore et al related to global warming. But, the last two winter's have really challenged my faith in the concept.

As some of you may know, we live on a hill with a very steep driveway. (When you think steep, think the 2nd hill of this year's Montana Cup, then add a couple percent!) When it snows, we are no longer able to drive up and down. At that point, we resort to an ATV, a Kubota tractor, and good old foot power.

But, for the 2nd year in a row, we've had heavy snowfall. At this point we've had well over a foot of snow sitting on the ground (beginning the weekend of the USATF Cross Country meet in Spokane). That presents it's challenges; but, it's mostly manageable. And, the two weeks of single digit and below zero weather again presented some challenges; but, other than going through lots of extra firewood - it too was manageable.

What is kicking my ass for the 2nd year in a row is having spring come in late December. Just like last year we had nice steady rain all day on Saturday. With temps right around freezing - that made for a nice, thick coating of ice on the entire driveway. At this point, the ATV and the tractor are pretty much useless (try driving anything up or down a near vetical skating rink). And, walking is a study in personal safety every time that we leave the house.

Over the last 10 year years, there has been little snow during the winter seasons. Other than a day here and there, we were able to drive up and down the driveway with no problem.

Now, over the last two years I've spent significant portions of my winter seasons shoveling, and least enjoyable of all, chipping ice from about a quarter of a mile of driveway.

It's great to have the moisture - really helps to keep the forest fire potential down during the summers. And, makes for some beautiful forest growth during the spring. And, I know it's selfish of me; but, damn, I could really go for a bit of a warm spell right about now.

The Muddy Buzzard

Saturday, December 27, 2008


As we perch on our winter roosts, here is the hope that your holiday season is fruitful and filled with joy.

May all of your runs be with the wind at your back and pain free.

With the coming of the new year here's to hoping that you meet all your fitness and pesonal goals.

The Muddy Buzzard

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Spokane Story

All Right, so Alan King and I hit the course in Spokane for a preview about 3:30 in the afternoon. As we are running along, it gets comical. Heavy wet snow, temp is dropping, course is covered in slush, etc. At one point we just sort of start to laugh. The group ahead of us turns around to see what is so funny and we start to visit with them.

They turn out to be a team from Flagstaff, AZ (home of Northern Arizona University). When we say that we are from Montana, they say - "we have a guy on our team from Montana". Turns out it was Seth Watkins (Kalispell native and NAU alum). We visited with him a bit as we wrapped up our run.

[Bret Winegar (Kalispell native) and Ted Zderic were two other runners with Montana ties that competed; but, we didn't catch up to them during the weekend.]

So, there we are at the post-race party. Alan has had a couple (or 3 or 4 or more) of cold ones to celebrate the end of a the season. Sort of late during the night, I come upon him and Matt Winter visiting with Seth Watkins. After visiting for a couple more minutes Alan says - "How did Seth Watkins place?" About this time, Matt and I look at each other, thinking what the heck?

Then Alan says "You know, Seth Watkins - from Kalispell - how did he finish?" Well, Seth and I look at each other, then Seth looks at Matt, all the while we're all thinking - has Alan lost his mind?

Then Alan says "Seth, Seth Watkins, where did he place?" Finally, Matt says why don't you ask him yourself, he's standing right there. About this time, we can't hold the laughter in any longer.

Poor Alan, the beer was causing a problem with the messages getting from the brain to the mouth. He was thinking "Bret Winegar"; but, what was coming out was "Seth Watkins". Knowing that Seth knew Bret, he was trying to find out if Seth knew how Bret had made out in the race. But, imbibing and coherent speech are not always on common terms at the post race celebration.

Turned out to be one of the more comical moments of the weekend.

The Muddy Buzzard.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Couple Of Steps Ahead (and a little one back)

So, first the backward step. After a satisfying performance in Spokane, I took a couple of easy days early this week. Then, in the midst of a two day business trip, I came down with a bit of a flu bug. Body aches and pains, sore throat, diarrhea, mild fever - heck, even my eyeballs hurt. So, I had to actually take a few days off (Thurs. to Sat.). Certainly not the end of the world; and, probably helped me from getting even sicker and missing even more time. But, still don't like going backwards when the momentum finally seemed to be swinging forward.

But, back to the good stuff. I walked away from Spokane feeling good about my performance. I've had better days at USATF XC Nationals. Twice I've been top 15 in my age group and top 20 overall. But, all things considered, I'm quite happy with how things developed.

In the 5 or so weeks between Montana Cup and Spokane, I made some nice advances in my fitness. I felt as if I had some solid training. My mileage was creeping upwards in a nice steady progression. My hard workouts were improving in quality. My knee was holding up nicely to the daily training stresses. And, I was mentally feeling as if I was actually ready to race.

My primary goal had been to close the gap between myself and Tom DeLuca and Craig Kenworthy based on Montana Cup finishes. An secondary goal was to be within :30 per mile of Ray Hunt. Given the way that Ray had been running this year, I knew that this would be a good marker of how I actually stood.

As the race started out, the pack basically ran away from me in the first 1K. I was pretty concerned that my fitness hadn't actually improved. Tom and Craig were well ahead of me, Kirk Keller was barely in view and John Herring was out of sight. Ray was also out of view; but, that was pretty well expected.

At about a mile, I started to get into a groove and people started coming back to me. Before long I saw Kenworthy. He was clearly having an off day; but, I was still happy to pull up to him none the less. Shortly after that, I felt as though I was back in contact with Tom D. It took a bit longer; but, I ultimately was able to get up to and past Tom as well. Unexpectedly, Kirk was suddenly in view and it looked as though he was slowly coming back to me. I can't remember where it was that I got to him; but, there was still at least a full loop (2+ miles) left.

I then had illusions of being able to get to John Herring. He was now in sight; but, getting up that far was just a pipe dream. However, I continued to pull people in all the way to the finish. (Even though I didn't quite have the drive in the last couple hundred meters to get to one last batch of runners.)

And, in the final results, I was 2 minutes behind Ray (20 seconds per mile). So, all in all the race was a definite success based on my goals going into the event.

(Don't get me wrong - none of this was about me versus them. But, in a race of this nature - national championships with runners from all over the country - you have to consider known athletes to be able to use as markers to gauge your level of performance.)

In the end, I raced well and competed well. I felt strong all the way through the race. I felt "connected" to the race and wasn't just there running through. I was actually competing and racing. I stayed in race mentally the whole way. I'm still missing the general fitness to be able to be "fast"; but, it certainly was a huge improvement over where I had been in the last couple of months.

For the first time since April Fools Day, I think that I was actually able to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

The Muddy Buzzard

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Holy Crap It Was Cold

I think that this picture pretty accurately portrays the conditions that we saw earlier today in Spokane. It was perhaps the worst conditions that I have ever raced in. 25 degrees or so, 10 to 15 mph winds and light snow cover. It was brutal. But, that was the good part of the day. By the time that the open men hit the course, it was 20 degrees and 20 mph +. It was not pleasant.

In spite of the conditions, fun was had by all those that braved the trek. Given the weather, the team logistics and all the other factors, it was so much more than just a race. It was an adventure. To use a favorite term of my Billings friend Coah Jay - it was an epic day.

Performance of the day was Matt Winter. He ran with the top tier throughout the race, looked great, and ended up with a 33:08 10K on a day that was far less than conducive to fast times.

Next up was Alan King. Although not as sharp as he would have liked, he still pulled off a 34:30ish performance. That's a time most of us are striving for on a nice day on the roads. It was a studly performance in the wind and on the snow.

Matt Seeley was the #3 guy and ran a strong, solid race from start to finish. Dewey Peacock had a bit of an off day; but, survived the conditions. Chuck Dumke, who had come along with Matt Seeley as a spectator, filled in for the late scratch of Jimmy Grant. He gets an all star award for racing and allowing the open men to have a scoring team.

Ray Hunt ran super on the men's masters side. Like Matt Winter, he was along the tail end of the top tier runners and pulled out a 37:15.

John Herring ran in as the number 2 guy in about 38:45. Tony Banovich was able to make some improvement since MT Cup and was our 3rd guy in 39:20.

Kirk Keller had been battling some illness in the 5 weeks since MT Cup; and, unfotrunately it caught up to him today. Tom DeLuca and Craig Kenworth rounded out the team finishes. But, due to a "wardrobe malfunction" of the timing chip variety, they didn't make it into the official results.

The open women ended up with only two runners. Jenni Brown of Polson looked great the whole way. She was running strong on the two 3K loops and had a great performance. Nicole Hunt had an off day; and, as seemed to be the case with many athletes, her success today came from surviving the conditions.

Demaris Taylor was our lone master's women. She started off the day of racing as a flash of gold and black.

For full results, check out the USATF site at

Check back for more of the stories within the stories from the snowy NW.

The Muddy Buzzard

Race Day Dawns White and Windy

5:00 a.m. and the day looked great. Light winds, no snow. Not a bad day for running.

6:30 a.m. and not so great. East winds, horizontal snow, forecast for temps to drop throughout the day (to 15 by 5:00 p.m. with below 0 wind chill). Not a bad day for hot toddies and a good book. But not so much for racing.

Everybody's ready to go. Looks like both are men's teams are staying intact.

The master's men's fieled is stacked, both individuals and teams. The open men's field isn't far behind. The level of compeition at these club championships has certainly risen over the years.

But, the great equalizer is going to be the weathr . How you handle the conditions will be a major factor in how you perform today.

Nicole Hunt is down getting in a shake out run on the treadmill. She continues to impress as she returns to high level racing after the birth of Mr. Eon.

Ray also looks like he is tuned up and ready to go. It will be exciting to see how he stacks up agains the rest of the old guy studs.

Alan King and Matt Winter are both full of nervous energy and ready to race. I have hi hopes for both of them.

Well, time to get ready to prep to head to the course.

More post race.

The Muddy Buzzard

We'll be off to the race soon ourselves.

Friday, December 12, 2008

We Made It, Me Made It, We Made It

Here in we are in Spokane on the eve of what is probably going to be a wet, windy and wintery XC meet for the USATF Club Cross Country Championships.

It looks like we are going to have a complete men's masters team and men's open team. We've lost one man on each of those teams; but, fortunately we had enough depth to still field teams (5 open men running, 6 masters men).

On the women's side, we had enough people choose not to chance the drive that we don't have teams for either open or master's. In the end, it appears as though we'll have two open women and two master's women. But, we aren't going to know for certain until the morning. There are a few people who are planning to come over in the morning; so, we'll have to wait and see how that shakes out.

Alan King and I drove over and arrived about 2:00 p.m. Spokane time. Roads were dry and clear all the way to about 30 miles out of Spokane. Then we hit the big fluffy snowflakes. Actually, the ride over this morning was quite pretty. Clear, crisp skies from Butte to Drummond. From Missoula to Lookout pass the fog and cold air inversions left the pine and larch trees coated in silvery ice. It was actually quite a pretty drive.

Things are a bit different here in Spokane Valley. The temp isn't bad right now - right around freezing. But, we've seen snow and rain and the course is likely to be a bit soggy. When we toured the course just before dark, it was a blanket of white, wet snow.

The prediction for tonight is for snow (up to 6"). Temps are expect to be high 20's - then as the wind picks up, the temps will likely drop during the day. It's likely to make for some interesting racing and some challenges on clothing selection.

But, the BSDP runners are excited and ready to go.

Check back in the morning for a race day weather update.

I'll also try to update the site with some reports post-race (and prior to the post race imbibing).

Till tomorrow

The Muddy Buzzard

XC Rules

Spokane, here we come (Snow Be Damned)

Here I sit in Butte en route to Spokane. The Buzzard’s wings are tired after a lot of travel time this week. Started Monday from Plains and traveled to Butte in the evening. Then to Bozeman on Tuesday for some meetings. On to Sheridan, WY Wednesday morning, a few meetings, then to Billings that night. Yesterday (Thursday) were some more meetings. Then left in the evening with Alan King, stopped by Bozeman to see Kelly Fulton (and his lovely wife Liz), then back to Butte. Today it’s Missoula then Spokane. Going to be happy to be able to roost for a day. By the time this trip is done the old wings will have seen about 1,500 miles of wear and tear.

It’s a crisp, clean morning here in the Mining City. And, yesterday was a beautiful throughout the state. Hard to believe that we are on the cusp of a big storm. It has the potential to make for some challenging race conditions (and some even more challenging return driving conditions).

Because of some of the forecast conditions, we’ve had a couple of people drop off the team. It’s been an interesting dilemma. Here we have a national championship race right in our backyard. Which should, in theory, make it easy for bunches of us to drive over, hit the race and then drive home. But, because of the potential for snow, slick roads and sub-zero temps, it’s actually more of a challenge for us to get there and back than it is for someone from, say, Atlanta. They drive to the airport, take a plane, rent a car to just travel around town in Spokane, get back on a plane and leave. No fuss, no muss. Meanhwile, we may be driving 30 mph over a couple of icy mountain passes and working hard to keep it out of the ditch.

We’ll see what today brings. At this point it looks like we are likely to have both of our men’s teams intact. And, for those of us who do make it to edges of the Palouse, we hope that the weather will actually give us a psychological advantage. Remember, we’re hardy old souls descended from mining camps, timber villages, railroad towns and cattle ranches. We’ve seen the worst before and are ready to overcome once again.

Late morning update - we just landed in Missoula. John Herring, Matt Winter, Ray and Nicole Hunt, Kirk Keller, Demaris Taylor, Alan King and myself are all on the road and en route. So far, we've only lost a total of 4 runners; and, all but the open women's teams are intact.

The excitement is building for what promises to be more than just an race - we're going to have us a genuine adventure.

Go BSDP!!!!!!

The Muddy Buzzard

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's A Cold One, Mr. Grinch

Looks like Grinch is going to make his prescence known at the USATF meet in Spokane this weekend. Based on the weather forecast - snow and cold may be coming to town. I guess as a silver lining, the weather should be setting the way for Santa to make his visit in a couple of weeks :-)

Sort of reminds me of the last time that XC nationals were in the region. In 1993 the meet was held in Missoula. In the days leading up to the meet, snow and cold moved in and left a couple of inches of snow on the course and a temp of low teens at the start of the meet.

Should make for a bit of a challenge. We're hoping that the warm weather states are a bit caught off guard and it helps give us a competitive advantage.

The first of us will be starting the trek westward tomorrow (Thursday). Alan King and I will be leaving Billing after work tomorrow afternoon. (I'm just happen to be in Billings on Business this week.) Several of us will be in Spokane Friday afternoon to preview the course and take in some of the technical meetings.

The Buzzard will do his best to keep you all up to date on how the meet shapes up.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Competition

As the Big Sky Distance Project harriers hit the turf at Plantes Ferry Park in Spokane for the USATF Club Nationals Cross Country Championships, they’ll be competing against some of the best athletes in the country. (Or as Bobby Bouchet (aka The Waterboy) would say – “That there’s some high quality athletic competition.”)

On the men’s open front, we have some of the best Training Groups/Distance Teams around. This includes the Hanson’s/Brooks team (Olympic Marathoner Brian Sell is listed as part of their team), ZAP Fitness, McMillan Elite (Andrew Carlson) and the Oregon TC Elite (Ryan Bak, Don Sage and Louis Luchini). Some of the individuals who are listed to compete include runners with Montana connections including Brett Winegar, Seth Watkins and Ted Zderic.

The women’s side seems to be a bit more wide open and doesn’t have some of the top end elites on the men’s side. But, I can guarantee you that the teams will racing hard and looking to take home top honors.

The men’s master’s 40+ team competition could be the most closely contested of the day. Front Line Racing, Fluffy Bunny T.C., Fleet Feet Racing – Boulder, and Club Northwest. Some of the best men’s master’s runners in the countries are competing on these teams. And, I know that some of them take this meet very seriously and structure their fall racing campaign around this meet.

The women’s master’s 40+ team is no cakewalk either. With the Impala, See Jane Run and Club NW teams, the medal slots will be hotly contested. For a full view of who’s competing, check out the confirmed entry list at

We’ll see what Saturday brings. It would certainly be an early Xmas present for The Buzzard if one of the 4 BSDP teams had a podium finish. He would even consider a top 5 team finish as making for a Happy Holiday season.

Here’s to hoping that we have fun; but, that we run hard and run fast.

Wish us the best.

The Muddy Buzzard

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Make It Hurt Baby, Make It Hurt

So, I knew that it would be a long, hard road back after a fractured patella. I didn't think it would take quite this long; but, I knew it wouldn't be a matter of a couple of weeks and all would be back to normal.

But after 3 months of no running, a month of easing back into it, then a couple of months of easy mileage, I still didn't think it would be quite so hard to get back to being able to really push the hard workouts.

Part of truly competitive running and racing requires learning to deal with discomfort. And, in order to be prepared to deal with the discomfort of racing, you have to practice dealing with that discomfort during training efforts.

What I'm discovering, much to my dismay, is that I'm finding that it is a challenge getting back to the point of pushing my training efforts to that point of discomfort. I'm getting better at it; but, after so many years of running and racing, I thought that it would be easier to get back into the mode of hard training efforts.

In some ways, I'm finding it to be a unique challenge. It's almost like being a beginning runner again and re-learning all about training effort. A fascinating and unique challenge; but, not an enjoyable one.

But, every workout brings me a bit closer to my personal version of "normal". I've had to come to grips with the fact that it will likely be spring before I'm back to the type of race fitness that I want. But, we'll just keep picking away, step by step, mile by mile.

The Muddy Buzzard.

The Countdown to Spokane

So, a week from today the Big Sky Distance Project will be getting ready to toe the starting lines at the USA Track & Field Club Championship Cross Country meet in Spokane.

We'll be taking 4 full teams.

First up will be the Master's Women's team (hometown)(MT Cup age division placing) - Julie Gilchrist (Ovando)(2), Debbie Gibson (Helena)(3), Pam Schiemer (Missoula)(9), Jennifer Straughan (Missoula)(11) and Demaris Taylor (Helena)(12).

They'll be followed by the Master's Men - Sandbagger (aka Ray) Hunt (Deer Lodge)(1), Kirk Keller (Three Forks)(3), John Herring (Missoula)(5), Craig Kenworthy (Bozeman)(6), Tom DeLuca (Bozeman)(10), Tony Banovich (Plains)(13) and Chas Day (Bozeman)(N/A).

The Women's Open will be next - Nicole Hunt (Deer Lodge)(2), Jenni Brown (Polson)(6), Rye Palen (Missoula)(7), Marta Fisher (Helena)(10), Jenny Newton (Missoula)(13) and Michelle Bazzanella (Helena)(14).

The last of the teams to hit the line will be the Men's Open - Matt Winter (Missoula)(1), Alan King (Billings)(2), Kelly Fulton (Bozeman)(5), Jimmy Grant (Missoula)(6), Dewey Peacock (Bozeman)(13) and Matt Seeley (Polson)(N/A).

So, you can see that we have great representation from across the State with 6 of the 7 Montana Cup regions represented (Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Helena, Kalispell and Missoula). We have large cities (Billings) and small (Ovando & Plains). Young (24) to Less Young (65+). Based on Montana Cup finishes (which is the most competitive single head to head race in the state), we have some of the best athletes in Montana competing as part of our motley crew.

The teams are getting excited and looking forward to the fast and furious fun next weekend.

Check back often for team and meet updates.

See you in cross country's mud pits and the frozen tundra

The Muddy Buzzard

Little Bitty Baby Step

Okay, so last week the Buzzard was excited about hitting 40 miles for the week. Well, this week he's done 2 better - that's right - a 42-mile week. 6.00 miles per day.

Over the next few weeks, the Buzzard hopes to fly right through a few more barriers. First a 45-mile week. Then 7.00 miles per day average (49-mile week). Then, the preferred base for weekly mileage - 50 Miles Per Week. May even have to break down a have a couple of cold ones at that point.

So - again - we'll keep taking the minor victories. It's sort of like the football season. Even the little victories count as a W. And, you get enough W's and pretty soon you have a successfull year!

See you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Spokane State Of Mind

For those of you that don't know, the USA Track and Field Club Cross Country Championships will be held in Spokane on December 13th. Since the race is right in our back yard - Montana's athletes have stepped up and we'll have great representation at this National Championship event.

Running under the banner of the Big Sky Distance Project, we'll have an open men's team (5 runners), a masters men's team (6 runners), an open women's team (7 runners), and masters women's team (5 runners) and one 60+ male individual runner. That gives us 24 runners who will make the trek eastward to Plantes Ferry Park in NE Spokane.

The buzzard will provide more info as we get closer to the meet.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Another Mile Marker -

Well, it took a while; but, the buzzard is close to being back to some semblance of normal mileage. Last week saw a 40-mile week. That was the first time I've seen that type of mileage since the week of March 23rd. And, today I put in a pleasant 10-mile on the roads and trails northwest of Plains. It's the first time that I've had an individual run in the double digit mileage since March 30th.

While my overall pace is still lagging behind what I'd like to be at - it's coming along, slowly but surely. I'm trying to take the return to full fitness sort of like you would approach a long run. Just going from mile marker to mile marker.

Between last week's mileage and today's 10-miler, I've passed another marker. There's plenty of them still ahead; but, we'll take solace in all the one's that we've put behind us.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Catching UP

Can't believe that this much time has passed since I last posted.

Problem is just too much of everthing.

There were the last few weeks of the high school cross country season to get through.

Work has required a bit more travel than earlier this year.

Have been spending most of my free time working on my house, especially trying to get the basement finished.

And, as I get healthier and healthier, I'm able to get in a few more mile; and, that's just adds more time to an already busy day.

But, I can't really complain - In the end, I'm being pretty productive and enjoying living here in NW Montana. But, let's get back to the running and catching up a bit.

First and foremost, let's talk about Montana Cup. Big kudo's to Pat Judge and his crew in Helena. The organization was great, the course location was spectacular and the finish area set-up was fantastic. The course, as seems to be the trend at Montana Cup, was a bit extreme. There were two serious - Mountain Goat type serious - climbs in the race. And, the first one wa more reminiscent of a mountain/trail race rather than a cross country event. But, that's part of the allure of the Cup. The course is guaranteed to be a unique challenge.

Matt Winter continues his great fall racing picking up the win on the men's side. Rachel Brewer of Great Falls pretty much dominated the women's race. For my money - the performance of the day came from Ray Hunt. Even setting aside his know penchant for sandbagging, his 43 year old legs kicked a lot of young gun ass. One of only 5 performances under 21:00, he beat the second master by over a minute. It was a hell of a race for the founder fo the event.

For more on the Cup, check out

Just like building up the mileage - posting again feels good. I'll try to be better about being more timely in my comments - especially as the Big Sky Distance Project gets ready to compete at the USATF Club Championship Cross Country meet in Spokane.

The Muddy Buzzard

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mountain West Redux

Last Saturday was quite a glorious day for a cross country meet. And, the hosts (Mountain West Track Club) and the athletes (1,500 strong) certainly put on a great show. The meet is an opportunity that few high school athletes get to experience. A challenging course that is double flagged througout. Thousands of cheering fans and top quality meet organization. What more could you ask for as a fan of distance running.

As the buzzard circled around overhead, he was left with a few lasting impressions.

First, what a great festival of races, color, excitement and determination. To look out over the north end of the University Golf Course and observed the sea of tents, the legions of runners and the hordes of fans put a smile on the old birds face.

There were some great individual performances. Drew Coco of Whitefish continued his dominant season and ran away from the boys field over the last mile.

The suprise of the day on the boys side had to have been Ryan Ketterling of Joliet. A solid performer in years past, he made a huge step forward with his strong 3rd place finish.

On the girls side, Kelly Dennehy of Butte made a stunning surge over the last 100 meters to make up almost a 20 meter deficit and finish fractions of a second out of first place. The state meet should be a doozy on the AA women's side with Dennehy, the Aragon sisters of Billings Senior, Keely West of CMR and Heidi Turner of Bozeman.

From team standpoints, the Bozeman girls will be hard to beat. And, if they can continue to run at this level, a Nike Team National slot isn't entirely out fo the question. But how about the Whitefish girls. Running agains the best large schools in Montana and several Washington powerhouses, the "A" school pulled out a 3rd place finish. And, this despite their nornal #1 runner (Loni Hanson) running a sub-par performance. Pretty impressive stuff.

On the boys side, the team titles at state in all classes looks to be as wide open as it has been in years. The boys team titles should rival the AA girls individual races for excitement.

See you back in Zoo Town for state on October 25th.

Before then, see you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Geb Again

Haile Gebrselassie

Berlin Marathon

World Record


'Nuff Said

Friday, September 26, 2008

Small Victories

Okay, so sometimes all that you can do is take the small victories.

Since my patellar fracture, the road back has been long (or short if you want to talk about running miles) and slow (literally and figuratively). On top of that, I've been fighting a tight IT band the last week. So, to add salt to the wounds, I've had to back off my mileage even more. And, damn, when you are doing limited mileage as it is, backing off isn't where you really want to be.

But, in exchange for backing down the mileage a bit, I've tried to make the "quality" count. (Of course, quality is all relative right now !!!!) And, over the last two days, I've had a couple of small positives.

On Wednesday, I did my first run of averaging under 7:00 per mile - doing a 5K course in 20:30.

Today, I did a hard mile in the middle of my 3-mile run and was able to go sub-6:00 (5:55).

Neither are stunning achievements. But, given the fact that it's only been about 8 weeks since I was able to even start running again, I guess that's some decent progress. And, even a month ago, I was really struggling to be at 8:00 pace. So, I guess I'll take the good where I can find it, try to stay positive and keep moving forward.

I know that it's going to come back and that I'll be back to where I would like -------but, why does it have to take so damn long :-)

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

AK at the MM

It was the classic running sandbagger story. My training hasn't been going well lately and I've been running like crap. So were the paraphrased words of Alan King in the week leading up to the Montana Marathon 1/2 marathon event. Yet, in spite of the pre-race gloom and doom, AK went out and had an exceptional time trial last Sunday. And, I say time trial since he finished the race about 10 minutes (almost 2 miles) ahead of 2nd place. Running 5:22 pace, he hit the line at 1:10:22. Not a bad day for feeling like doggy doo.

To see full results of the Montana Marathon, check out Among others, finishers included ultra and trails studetee Nikki Kimball and Senator Max Baucus.

Next up for Alan will be the UM Cross Country Invitational as part of the Big Sky Distance Project.

The Muddy Buzzard

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mountain West & The Crystal Ball

Montana's own super-sized prep XC meet is this coming weekend in Missoula. The annual Mountain West Classic brings together over 1,000 total runners from the AA, A, B and C ranks and usually includes a couple of teams from Idaho and Washington. Among other things, it's a great opportunity to see how everyone stacks up against each other at the midway point of the season.

As with most years, it's also a good chance to answer and few questions and to raise several questions for fans, coaches and athletes to ponder over the last 4 weeks before state.

Are the Bozeman boys and girls strong enough to sweep the AA titles at state?

How strong are the Whitefish girls on the A level?

Is the best race of the day going to be the AA girls with Keeley West, Kelli Dennehy, Heidi Turner, the Aragon sisters (Alexa and Dani) and Auarlea Fain?

At Mountain West can Drew Coco of Whitefish dominate on the big stage the way he has done in the smaller meets so far this season?

Who can pull off the win in the Class B boys race - Darby, Manhattan, Loyola, Glascow?

Who will pull off the biggest suprise of the year at state?

Can the Hellgate boys show that they weren't a one year wonder?

All good stuff coming up this weekend and in the last weekend in October in Missoula.

Stay tuned for more HS XC info on the muddy buzzard.


Cubs and Kittens

In the first race out of the gate for the Cats an Griz, youth ruled the day on the men's side.

For the Griz, redshirt freshmen Lynn Reynolds picked up where he left off last track season and ran an impressive 5th overall with a time of 24:52.

Close behind in 11th at 25:08 was the Cat's trud frosh Patrick Casey.

Both are homegrown Montana products (Dillon and Laurel respectively); and, it's good to see them being successful at the next level.

For full results fo the MSU Invitational, see

The Muddy Buzzared

Greasing the Wheels

If only it were that easy. Wouldn't it be so cool if, as part of an injury, you could just go to the "body" shop, get some new parts, a grease and lube, maybe bang a few dents out the fender, a glossy new coat of paint and then be back on the roads as fast as ever and only having missed one or two days.

But, as I'm finding out, it's not nearly that easy to come back from a major injury, especially when the odometer has over 70,000 miles on it. I've been pretty lucky in my 30 or so years of running and racing. I've had one stress fracture (1984) and some patellar tendinitis issues around 2005. But, even at that, I've not had a serious injury that not only kept me from running but prevented me from even keeping base fitness.

But, that all changed back on April Fool's Day of this year. On that fateful Tuesday afternoon, I had the misfortune of fracturing my kneecap. Even though surgery wasn't needed, there was a pretty extended healing period. First up was 8 weeks in a full leg brace to keep my leg immobilized and let the fracture knit back together. Turns out that when you have your leg in a brace and can't bend it, there are some serious limitations to the types of physical activity that you can undertake. Can't swim, can't walk, can't ride a bike, etc. Also can't drive, sitting is a bit of an issue, and don't even get me started about what it takes to go to the bathroom for a number 2.

So, we're now up the first of June. By this time the quad in that leg has atrophied to nothing and I have no range of motion. So, off to Physical therapy. I've got to tell you, it's a bit of frustrating experience to go from running a 2:30 marathon to the big success story being the ability to actually contract what is left of your quad muscle. Over the next month, which included a visit to Zombro, I was able to get the range of motion back and begin strengthening the leg. But, still no running. So, now we're up to 3 months - and it's pretty clear that all my fitness is long gone; plus, it's going to be a long road to get it back.

The first running steps took place on the 4th of July weekend on some soft trails. 4 minutes walk; 1 minute run for 20 minutes. Hey - a whole 4:00 of running. Well, running is a bit of a misnomer. Maybe 10:00 pace (maybe 12:00) that was awkward at best. More of a hop, hop, stumble, stumble. But, at least it was progress.

Over the next several weeks I followed the old Gallowalk concept. Walk a bit, run a bit. By late July, I was running more than walking - and my run segments were getting into the low 8:00 pace range.

Onto the last weekend of July and Camp Vermillion. My first continuous runs!!!! Again, slow and awkward. But, the knee seemed to be structurally okay. No pain at the fracture site and the joint, tendons and ligaments all seemed to be okay. The problem was that due to the muscle atrophy in the quads, there were imbalances that led to the kneecap not tracking properly. So, a bit of pain. Nothing severe; but, still an irritant. Add that to the fact that I was horribly out of shape and it was hard to get overly excited about being able to "run". For the next month, it was mostly a matter of run a day, rest a day with runs being 2 to 4 miles.

By early August, I was running several days in a row before taking a break with no apparent ill effects. Plus, lots of stretching and strengthening work to try to get the leg back in order. I lot of work; but, the hope was to be able to be able to actually have some semblance of racing fitness by Montana Cup.

So, here we are into mid September. I'm running pretty much every day. My quad is getting stronger and there is actually some muscle definition returning. The kneecap is tracking better (not quite 100% - but coming along nicely). I'm doing about 30 to 35 mpw with much of it at 7:30 pace or better. I've even had the ability to do a workout of short hills (uphills - I'm still pretty tentative on downhills). This Wednesday I did my first tempo run. A short 2 miler with a goal of 6:30 pace. I was able to hit 6:15's; but, damn, it was a lot of work. I'm really longing to get back to the days where 6:30's are hit during long training runs.

Now, however, the body is rebelling a bit. I'm sure it's a bit of compensation as the leg is getting it's alignment back together; but, my right IT band has flared up. It's incredibly frustrating to finally be coming back to some semblance of normalcy and then have to take a couple of steps backwards. And, that's where the title of the post comes from. If only I could grease the wheels and jump back on the roads full force it would be a grand and glorious thing.

But, that's not going to happen - so, it's a matter of keep trying to be smart - stretch, ICE, be smart with mileage and efforts, etc. Here's to hoping for the best.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard

Saturday, September 20, 2008

One Tough SOB

We all know Scott Creel as an animal on the roads and especially the trails. His Ridge Run performances are legendary. On more than one occasion he has finished the race with equal mixtures of mud and blood.

But, earlier this year he had what he describes as a "climbing injury". Too me, it looked more like his lower leg made a visit to Hannibal Lecter's laboratory. To Scott, it was just another day on the trail. Went into the doc, had them throw in a few stitches (for the sake of a good story, let's say that he threw back a shot of whiskey and told them to hell with the Novocaine) and went merrily on his way.
After taking it easy on the stitches for a few days he was back at is, good as new.
Leave it up to Creel to have the presence of mind to take a picture of the wound. Hell, you never know when scars, cuts and scrapes are going to come up in dinner conversation; and, it's always good to have a shot like this to pull out of your wallet in order to throw down the "do better than that" gauntlet.
So, next time your running down a dark back alley, take a tough bastard like Scott with you.
See you on the roads, tracks and trails.
The Muddy Buzzard.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Colter Run

Saturday was the annual John Colter Run in Three Forks. This race is the oldest and highest profile trail race in Montana and is know for it's killer hills, tricky footing and the crossing of the Gallatin River.

My personal choice for highlight of the race was the performance of Anders Brooker of Missoula. Most of us know Anders Brooker as the well natured little shop keeper (Runner’s Edge) who has his hands in most of the running and racing activities in the greater Missoula area (somehow, I can’t quite bring myself to use the phrase “Missoula Urban Area”). But, many of you may not know that he also has a pretty solid running pedigree of his own.

During his high school years, he was one of the best cross country and distance runners in the Class B ranks as part of the powerhouse Plains Horseman teams of the late ‘90’s. He parlayed that success into a stint on the U of M teams. But, the business itch was too strong and he left school to start up a top tier running specialty store. His personal running has taken a back seat for the last few years while he developed the store, acted on the Board of Directors for the Missoula Marathon, hosted marathon training classes, coached track and XC at Missoula Hellgate (Class AA XC boys team champs in 2007), got married – in general, lived a full and busy life.

Well, this year, inspired by entry into the New York City Marathon (along with his dad Tim), Anders has ramped his training back up. And this past weekend he showed that he still has some wheels. Anders’ time of 45:59 is a strong, solid time that would make him competitive in virtually any year of the race.

For those of us who know Anders, he’s all about giving back to the sport. Given his performance this weekend, I thought that it was time that he had his moment in the sun again and be recognized for his great performance on Saturday. As the Aussies would say – Anders, good on ya’ mate!!!

As for the overall race, the top end was dominated by young athletes from Bozeman. As is the case with many races in Montana, we'll see a surge of young grad students from MSU and UM put up some good performances in the fall and spring. Even when they don't stick around after their grad school stints, their presence at the races serves to force everyone to step up their game and race just a little bitter harder. Out of a total of 164 men finishers and 112 women, the top 6 on the men's side were:

Bernhard Ronning Bozeman 43:41
Anders Brooker Missoula 45:59
Anders Folleras Bozeman 46:37
Doug Neil Bozeman 46:58
Kyle Cram Three Forks 47:08
Brian Wieck Helena 47:21

The first masters man was Rob Maher of Bozeman, placing 16th overall with his 52:55

On the women's side, the top 5 were:

Stephanie Howe Bozeman 50:16
Sarah Graves Billings 51:33
Kathy Peterson Dillon 54:58 (1st Master)
Jen Reiter Billings 55:00
Claire Rennie Bozeman 55:50

For full results on the race, check out

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Harrier Hawks

For those of you that recall last year's high school XC season, the Thompson Falls boys (the running Blue Hawks) won the Class B title. This included Shane Donaldson and Jacob Naegeli scoring 2nd and 3rd place finsihes.

One of their assistant coaches, Andrew Gideon, is an English/Journalism teacher at the high school. He could see that the season was full of promise; and, as a result decided to keep a journal of the season. He then turned that jounal into book, titled "Harrier Hawks Fly High".

The self published book can be acquired on

I've had the opportunity to read the book and it was enjoyable. Of course, I was a bit biased since I had the chance to watch the boys and girls at almost every meet that they ran last year. But, the book is a great look at the personalities of the kids on the team. And, it may be about as open a book as there is on how the coaches approached training the team.

Also, Coach Gideon exposes a wry sense of humor that indicates why the kids are so willing to put out the effort for him and Coach Sarah Naegeli.

I recommend the book - if for no other reason than to support the efforts of a Montana coach, writer and high school cross country team.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Big Week For the Buzzard

So, the last week was a sort of a big one for the Muddy Buzzard. I'm slowly beginning to get closer to some semblance of normal training.

This last week there were a few highlights that have me cautiously optimistic that I'm on the path to full recovery.

First, I ran a "hard" 5K at Kelly Fulton's wedding in Tacoma, Washington and was able to do the full distance at well under 8:00 pace.

I ran all 7 days last week (the first time that I had run 7 days in a week since the last full week in March)(about 4.5 months).

I ran 32 miles for the week (first time over 30 miles in the last 4.5 months).

And, to top it off, on Saturday, I actually ran a mile in under 7:00.

It's a far cry from where I'm used to being; but, given where I was after cracking my kneecap on April Fool's Day, I can tell you that it's some big steps forward.

And, while I am relishing the ability to run regularly again; it turns out it's a huge pain in the ass to come back from a serious injury. I've never had this type of injury before in my over 30 years in the sport, so I had no idea what to expect in returning to fitness. Damn if it doesn't take a bit of work.

Oh well. Just need to keep positive, train smart and keep moving ahead.

Looking forward to seeing you all on the roads, tracks and trails.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Oly, Oly, Oly - Oi, Oi, Oi

It's finally just around the corner. The Olympic track and field events kick off on Friday.

Regardless of your feelings of the commercialism and politicizing that has also become part of the games, it's still about as spectacular track meet as you can find.

NBC has a full array of coverage on muliple channels and on-line. Schedules can be found at

So revel in the best coverage our sport will get for the next 4 years.

The Muddy Buzzard

The Ridge Sans Creel

Due to an achilles problem that just won't go away, someone other than Scott Creel was able to take the overall prize at the Ridge Run this past weekend.

Zach Strong showed his trail acumen by taking the overall win.

Full results can be found at

The Muddy Buzzard

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ray & Mary @ Nationals

Ray Hunt and Mary Thane competed in the 1,500 meters at the USATF National Masters Track Championships in Spokane this past weekend.

Mary won her division (45-49) in a sub-5:00 time (4:58.49)
Ray was 6th in the 40-44 division with a fine time of 4:25.05.

These are just the continuation of the fine year that both have had on the roads, track and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard

P.S. - no confirmation that flames shot out of Ray's ass in this race (as has been observed in past events of the english version of this distance)!!!!!!

The Stumbling Grizzly

I hate to say it; but, the University of Montana has become an embarrassment to the sport of cross country and track and field. Even though Tommy Raunig gave them ample notice that he was leaving the program at the end of the 2008 track season (notice was back in March), the school and athletics administrations drug their feet and ended up without a coach as of the end of July.

Now, they appear to have hired an interim coach. Word on the street is that they have offered the position to Courtney Babcock. But, even at that, they have yet to announce the position or what they intend to do in the long term.

And, here it is, approaching the middle of August and they are, for all intents and purposes, without a coach. I feel so sorry for the UM athletes. How would you like to be getting ready for the fall XC season with no idea as to who is going to guide you through the season.

And what happens next year, or the year after that. With the lack of care that the school seems to be showing to the sport, it could be 3 or 4 or 5 years before the program gets back on solid ground.

What a shame the whole issue is. Missoula (and Bozeman) have all the elements necessary to enable it to develop a national level cross country and distance program. Great trails, great community support of the program, well above average academic programs, young, active, outdoor lifestyles, at least some level of altitude. If schools like Dartmouth, Portland, Liberty, Colorado and others can be distance power houses, there is no reason that Missoula can't follow suit.

All that's missing is the commitment from the university to provide the funds and leadership necessary to allow the program to develop to it's fullest potential.

The other sad part of this whole scenario is that there were a number of qualified people who wanted to pursue the job. But, based on the criteria that had been established for the position, they weren't eligible - or so they thought. All that went out the window when some of the finalists didn't take the offers proffered by the school and others were deemed not suited for the job. How they got to the decision to choose Courtney hasn't been clarified. But, at a minimum it has left some sour taste in the mouths of numerous people. Enough so that the whole situation has 11 pages of comments on the message board (

Now, all that being said - best of luck to Courtney. She has competed at the highest levels and knows what it takes to reach the top. All indications are that she is a great person and has the knowledge base to provide guidance to the college level athlete. Maybe we'll find a silver lining out of all this and end up with somebody who was in the right place at the right time.

Time will tell.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Another Killer Wolfe Makes The Headlines

Check out this article that was on the front page of today's Missoulian.

The Muddy Buzzard

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Montana Mile

There were some wet and wild (figuratively and literally) races on Friday night at the Big Sky States Games' Montana Mile. This was the 16th running of the men's race and the 8th edition for the women. The records in both races were set in 2001 - with Chuck Sloan setting the men's standard @ 4:12.2 and Nicole Hunt the women's @ 4:59.8.

For only the second time in the 23 years of the State Games, the Opening Ceremonies were plagued by rain and wind. Although spectator attendance was down due to the weather, at least 750 hardy souls stuck it out. And, from the noise they made during the race, they were excited to see the best milers in Montana take to the track.

Unfortunately for the women, the skies decided to open up a bit and the rain was really coming down as the gun went off. The cool weather, 65 degrees, would have normally been a welcome sight for the runners. Unfortunately, winds of up to 20 mph made the racing conditions less than ideal.

Once the gun went off, the women put the conditions aside and focused on running fast. Right from the get go, the women's race split into two packs. Bridgette Hoenke (Billings Senior grad, incoming sophomore at U of M), took the pace out at about 74 seconds. Right behind her were Lois Ricardi (Gardiner native and just wrapping up her Senior year at Idaho State) and Sarah Graves (Sidney native, grad of MSU-Billings). The second pack was comprised of high schoolers Emily Moorehouse (Glascow), Alexa Aragon and AurLea Fain (Billings Senior) and Elizabeth Spartas (Bozeman).
By the 800, Ricardi had taken the lead and had control of the race. At about 1K, she made a commanding move and had full separation from the field. By this time, Graves had moved into 2nd place and Hoenke was into third with a 25 meter gap back to the rest. The H.S. crowd was running in a very tight pack and it was clearly going to be a close race for 4th place.

But the race from 1,000 meters on was all Ricardi. Since winning the Montana Mile last year, she had taken another step in performance at Idaho State. By the end of the year, she was the school record holder in the 3,000 meter steeplechase. It was evident that she was now after the record. But, the weather and running alone were a bit too much. She was going to need a sub-70 second lap to get the record and it just wasn't in the cards. She hit the tape at 5:04.6, still a solid time for a collegian in mid-July.
Next in was Sarah Graves at 5:20.6. Sarah has really reached a new level with her running in the last two years and may be the most versatile women's runner in the state right now. Last October she missed qualifying for the Olympic Trials Marathon by less than a minute (running 2:48+), ran in the elite women's field at Boston in April, and is also competitive in triathlons.
3rd went to Bridgette Hoenke at 5:23.4. She was followed in quick succession by Moorehouse in 5:28.8, Aragon at 5:31.0, Spartas at 5:33.3 and Fain at 5:35.7

By the time the men's race started, the rain had let up and the race began under a beautiful sunset. The winds were still a bit strong; but, just like the women, the men were all business once the gun sounded. The rumor had it that John Ricardi (a senior to be at Idaho State) was gunning for Chuck Sloan's record. Dane Steward (Plains native, Garden City CC grad) had been gearing for this race all season and was also ready to run fast.
Also in the race were Patrick Casey of Laurel (soon to be MSU frosh) and collegians Zach Nordhal (Rapalje/Air Force Academy), Lynn Reynolds (Dillon/U of M), Zac Barrett (Manhattan/Idaho State) and Forrest Lewton (Whitehall/Azuza Pacific). The High School crowd was represented by Alex Brekke (Bozeman), Robbie Brooks (Missoula Sentinel), Caleb Bentley (Lewstown), Michael Asay (Manhattan) and Josh Dean (Billings Skyview). The requisite old man in the field was Alan King (Billings West, Dakota Wesleyan, Big Sky Distance Project).

Robbie Brooks unexpectedly took the race out in the first lap. Having just placed third in the Missoula Half-Marathon last Sunday (1:12+), he didn't let that dissuade him from going out hard with a 63 second opening lap. The fast early pace broke the pack up quickly. With a lead pack of Brooks, Ricardi, Casey and Steward, the rest of the group was scattered into two semi-packs.

By about 600, Brooks had fallen back and it was obvious from early on that the race was going to be dictated by the front trio. Steward took over the lead by 800 and hit the line at about 2:08. At around 1,000, Casey and Ricardi had moved to the front and Steward was beginning to drift back. Meantime, Zach Nordahl was beginning to separate from the chase packs and was in a solid 4th position.

The 1,200 was hit at about 3:12; and it was clear that something special was going to have to happen for he record to get taken down. Casey was running on the inside with Ricardi on his shoulder. John made a move to take the lead as they entered the penultimate corner, but Patrick immediately responded and the real racing was on. They were all out, side by side, down the backstretch and into the final curve.

Finally, in the last 75 meters, Patrick was able to pull away and cap off a spectacular senior season with a P.R. win at 4:17.7. His win signalled a season in which he went undefeated in cross country and won the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 at the State "A" track meet. For a young runner, he possesses some great instincts and racing tactics. By all accounts, he has the potential for a bright collegiate future.

Although Ricardi wasn't able to join his sister on the winner's stand, he ran an exceptional race. With plans to red shirt the upcoming XC season, John has plans to build his strength over the fall in an effort to be prepared for taking the next step upward for his final indoor, outdoor and XC seasons in 2009. John ran strong to the finish in 4:19.8 for solid 2nd place finish.

Nordahl was able to pull into third just before the finish, overtaking Steward by 1/2 a second, 4:21.3 to 4:21.8. After that, the finish order was:

5 - Lynn Reynolds, 4:26.7
6 - Zac Barrett, 4:27.1
7 - Forrest Lewton, 4:30.4
8 - Alan King, 4:33.4
9 - Alex Brekke, 4:35.8
10 - Robbie Brooks, 4:42.2
11 - Caleb Bentley, 4:47.4
12 - Michael Asay, 4:49.3
13 - Josh Dean, 4:49.7

Special thanks to Karen Gall of the BSSG for continuing to conduct this race as one of the signature events of the opening ceremonies. It's really unlike anything else in Montana track and field. Also to be recognized for their parts in the race are Dave Coppock of MSU-Billings for coordinating the start and timing, Mike Carrigan of MSU and John Sybrant of the BSSG.

The Muddy Buzzard

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Newest Member of BSDP

We have the newest Junior Member of the Big Sky Distance Project!!!!!!

Eon Journey Hunt was born June 28th. He weighed 7 lbs 4 oz. Mom is doing fine and should be back to running in a few weeks (and probably kicking everyone's ass in a few months - look out Montana Cup)

Dad is still in a daze realizing that he is now responsible for more than just feeding the cons.

Rumor has it that dad has already been teaching Eon the finer points of Sandbagging.

The Muddy Buzzard.

Missoula Goes Wild Tomorrow Morning

The weather here in western Montana has taken a decided turn for the cooler. Too bad the race wasn't yesterday. We only got up into the mid 70's. But, it will certainly be better than the triple digit highs of last year.

Temps prediced to be probably high 40's , low 50's at race time (6:00 starter's gun). High's predicted to be mid-'80,s. But, with most all of the finishers probably done by noon, it should be reasonable weather. In fact, for the front runners, it should be really quite pleasant.

Sounds like Keifer Hahn may elect to defend his title (and rumors of racing for a 2:30 time). Sounds like Zach Strong will also be on the line. He's had a pretty solid year; but, not a spectacular time at Gov's Cup. Perhaps he's looking for redemption in the his newly adopted hometown. I'm not predicting a winner; but, would love to see someone pop off a sub 2:37 (sub 6:00 pace). Would certainly give some credibility to the course.

Women's races sound to be wide open at this point.

Brandon Fuller is back to defend his title in the 1/2 marathon. But Casey Jermyn will be in the race. He's running regularly and looks pretty fit. I would give the nod to casey in my predictions.

Good luck to all.

For updates, check out the Missoulain on-line. They've had some pretty good coverage leading up to the race (in the print version).

The Muddy Buzzard

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Running Wild In Missoula

The second annual Missoula Marathon is this weekend. It's a great example of how to put on a successful event. It's competing with the Spring Meadow Triathlon for the big events this weekend.

Both are well run events, with good participation and community support.

And, I have a feeling that there the Missoula Marathon is going to take the event to the next level in terms of participation, performances, and overall event excitement. With the finish on the Higgins street bridge, a new marathon relay and some cooler weather that last year, all the pieces seem to be falling into place.

And, watch for some big news from one of the event sponsors. All in all, a wild weekend is ahead.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Deja Vu

So, just had time last night to watch the taped coverage of the men's 10,000 at the Oly Trials (god bless the DVR) (and, by the way, I was pretty impressed with the coverage). In many ways, it reminded me of the men's 10,000 from 1980.

I was lucky enough to attend several days of the trials in Eugene 28 years ago. And in the 10K, another young U of O runner was battling with the leaders to make the team. Alberto Salazar gave a gritty performance (to get third if I remember correctly) with the entire stadium cheering him along all the way around the track.

Well, here it is almost 30 years later and a similar situation took place last night. With the ironic twist of Al Salazar being his past coach and current "mentor", young Duck Galen Rupp rode the wave of the hometown cheers to a second place finish and earn a ticket to the show in Bejing.

I was pretty impressed by the manner in which he raced agains seasoned competitors like Abdi, Jorge and Ritz. A very impressive performance by this young man. He clearly looks to be one of the new young guns of the American distance scene.


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Eugene 08 - Halftime's Over

The 2nd half of the Oly Trials kick off today. After and exciting first 4 days, look for more fireworks as we enter the 4th of July weekend.

Can Bernard Lagat come back to make the team in the 1,500 in addition to the spot he already has on the 5K team? ( I predict yes)

Will Alan Webb overcome the pressure and make the team at 1,500 meters? (Maybe - I give it 50-50 that he either runs brillinatly or that he runs like doggy poo)

Will Allison Felix dominate the women's 200 field? (Probably)

Can Jon Godina make the team in the discus after a long and successful career as one of the world's best Shot Putters? (I sure hope so).

Can Jen Struzinski (spelling??) set herself up by winning big in the women's pole vault and preparing to challenge world record holder Isanbeyava (again spelling?) for the gold in Bejing? (With the way that she has progressed over the last 2 years, it may be realistic)

Will Abdi win the 10,000? (Probably) Who will join him on the team (Meb? Ritz (doubling up with the marathon)? Dan Brown? Jorge?)

Can Lyle Weese make the steeplechase finals? (Yes) But who will win the steeple with Dan Lincoln (AR Holder) out? (No good guess, the field is wide open - Familegetti could definately make it if he's healthy and ready to run like hell)

Will Ellie Rudy of MSU finish in the top 6 in the women's pole vault? (Sure hope so; but, she hasn't vaulted much this year and I'm not sure how sharp she is)

Check for tv listings. The meet is shown everyday (Thursday and Friday on USA, on NBC on the weekend).

See you on the roads, tracks, trails and trials.


Monday, June 30, 2008

Day 4 - Eugene 08

The men's 800 was a thriller. After breaking out of a box with about 150 meters to go, Nick Symmonds blew away the rest of the field. His performance wasn't a big suprise - but the action behind him was stunning.

After swinging wide off the last corner, Andrew Wheating was in 6th with about 50 meters to go. But, he held form and ran hard through the line to pull of a second place finish. Behind him, Christian Smith was battling with Kadevis Robinson (many time national champ) and Lopez Lomong (Northern Arizona alum and one of the lost boys of the Sudan).

Literally diving across the line, Smith held off Robinson for third; and, to make it even better, he got the A standard with his 1:45.4 +- finish.

It's an all Oregon team with Symmonds and Smith representing the Oregon Track Club and Wheating an Oregon sophmore.

The other big race of the night is the men's 5,000. They've just taken off. Brett Vaughn (Colorado) took it out right away and has about 20 meters at the 800. Lagat, Goucher, Solinsky, Riley, Tegenkamp all handing with the pack.

Goucher is trying to join his wife on the team (she has qualified in the 10,000 and is in the 5,000 finals); but, in addition to being in the top 3, he needs to run sub 13:21 to ge the A standard.

The crowd is loud and active. Lots of rythmic clapping, feet stomping on the wood floor of the East grandstand and yelling their heads off. What a rush it must be to race in taht atmosphers.

Pack through mile at about 4:20. They've caught up to Vaughn. Goucher needs the pace to stay honest to have a shot at the standard.

Tegenkemp looks great, Lagat is crusing, Goucher has takent he lead at 8:00 and is pressing.

My prediction is Lagat, Tegs and Solinsky. Goucher isn't going to be able to pullit off.

A mile to go and they are at 9:22. So, in order to make it, Gouch needs to place and run a 4:00 last mile to make it.

Lagat is tracking, with Asmeron, Dobson, Tegs and Solinsky. Asmeron is really looking good and has just takent the lead with 1200 to go. He may be the spoiler.

Solinky just made a big move with 1,000 to go. The real race is on. Gouch dropping back and just stepped off the track with 800 to go.

The rest of the bigies on in the hunt.

Solinky still leads, Asmeron hangin on, He's got a kick. Tegs and Solinksy still in it.

Here comes Tegs with 400 to go.

Bell lap, 5 guys in the hunt for 3 spots.

Lagat pulls away with 200 to go. Tegs got tripped up with about 120 to go but pulls it back togetehr and gets in for 2nd. Dobson pulls it off for third.

Not a bid team. Lagat is defending world champ, Tegs was 4th. Dobson is solid.

Goucher has to hope to be able to make it in the 10,000.

Now, two rest days and then we pick it back up on Thursday.

See you later in the week.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Track Town

Eugene '08 is underway with the Olympic Track Trials returning to the motherland of US Track and Field - the venerable Hayward Field at the University of Oregon. The first 3 days are in the books - no big surprises so far; but some stunning performances.

My choices of the performances of the weekend -
  • Women's 10,000 - Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher putting on a classic distance duel with the outcome not decided until the last 300 meters. But the big story of the race was Amy Yoder Begley finding a way to dig deep over the last 800 (especially the last 200) to get the Oly A standard and make her way onto the team.
  • Men's 100 - Tyson Gay smoked the track. American Record in the quarters (9.77) and the fastest all time in the finals @ 9.68. Unfortunately, the wind was over the allowable, so it won't go into the record books. But the guy was flying. He came out well, had great initial drive phase, and his form over the last 50 meters was a thing of beauty.
  • Women's Heptathlon - Diana Pickler had to stay within 1.5 seconds of GiGi Johsnon in the final event (the 800) to hold onto her third place slot. She stuck to her like glue, set a Heptathlon PR for the event, finish less than a second behind GiGi and booked her Oly ticket.
  • Women's 400 hurdles - Queen Harrison drives over the last couple of hurdles from lane 8, and pulls off an upset 2nd place finish.
  • Men's Pole Vault - 40 year old Jeff Hartwig goes 18-8 for 2nd place and to represent us old guys at the big show.

More as the week progresses.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Best of The Best

So, the high school track season has come and gone; and, already it seems like so long ago since last weekend and the State Meets in Bozeman and Helena. Please permit me one last look back at the season and give you my picks for the performers of the year on the boys and girls sides.

Let me start with the girls; and, the athlete who I think may have been the overall trackster of the year. She didn't have an undefeated season, and didn't win all entered events at State. And, I'm slightly biased since I watched this young lady since she was a wee infant and I've known her family for over 15 years. But, I am hard pressed to identify anyone else in the state who combined her range of events and level of performances.

Alexa Aragon, a mere sophomore, was among the top 8 performers in all of the state and placed in the AA state meet at 400, 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters and the pole vault. Her performances included 400 @ 58.70 (8th on yearly list), 2:15.6 @ 800 (2nd), 5:02.0 @ 1,600 (1st), 11:20.6 @ 3,200 (3rd) and 10' 6" @ PV (tie for 3rd). She won state titles at 800 and 1,600 meters, and placed 2nd in the 3,200, 3rd in the pole vault and 5th in the 400. Other than the 400, her marks at the state meet were seasonal bests.. I'm not sure that I can ever recall anyone who placed at state in all the flat track events above 200 meters. Then, what an unusual combination of adding the pole vault. A distance running pole vaulter? What the heck?!?!?!?!?

Honorable Mentions - Kourtney Danreuther, Big Sandy. Top 10 on the seasonal lists @ 200, 400, 800 (1st on list @ 2:12.0) and 300 Hurdles (1st on list @ 45.1). State titles @ 300H, Long Jump, 200 and 800; and, a 2nd place at 400.

Heather Haug, Livingston - state championships at 800, 1,600 and 3,200.

Whitney Henderson, Corvallis - state championships at 100, 200, and 400.

Performances of the year - Caitlan Stone's 5:04.7 and 10:53.4 races at the Western B Divisionals in Missoula. All alone, solo efforts (she lapped the entire field in the 3,200) on days when the track temperatures were in the '90's.

On the Boys side, I have to go with the distances again. And, again, it's a competitor from the East side of the divide. This runner has shown remarkable racing awareness in such a young athlete. At the State meet he won the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meter titles to add to the XC championship that he won this fall.

Not only did Patrick Casey, a graduating senior, win 3 events, he led the seasonal lists at 800 and 1,600 and was 2nd on the 3,200 list. And, he ran in the low 50 second range in the 400 at the Eastern A Divisional meet. And, to my knowledge, at 800 meters and above, he was undefeated this year, including cross-country. Having had the chance to watch the Western A runners this season, I was surprised by the margin of victories that Patrick had over runners such as Whitefish's Drew Coco and Logan Torgison of Polson.

Honorable Mentions - Alex Brekke of Bozeman. 2nd on the 1,600 seasonal list and 1st @ 3,200, he won both at the state track meet to add to his spectacular AA XC crown. If he had added the 800 to his list, he would have been a dead heat with Patrick.

Josh Pelczar, Billings West. On the seasonal lists for the 100, 200, 400, he won the 400 and the 200 at State and was 2nd in a very strong AA 100 meters.

Performances of the Year: Brian Schenavar, Thompson Falls, 14-9 1/2 inch pole vault at state. Indoors, likely for the first time ever, he set what I believe was the only class record in the state this year.

Darby's Paul Abrahamsen's 58 second last lap to win the 3,200 meters at State B. Very few HS athletes from Montana can show those kinds of wheels on the last lap of a 3,200 meters, even if it was coming off a relative slow pace.

Well, that's my take on the season. Let me know if you agree or if you think others are worthy of mention.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Who Takes Home The Hardware

Boys and Girls from Big Schools and Small. Coming from the North, South, East and West. Sprinter and Runners, Jumpers and Throwers. The Best of The Best have made it through Divisionals and are making the trek to Helena and Bozeman to see who will come out on top at the Montana High School Track and Field Championships.

All four of the meets (AA and C in Helena - A and B in Bozeman) will be be "action-packed" and full of drama, highs, lows and everything in between. Undoubtedly there will be exceptional performances by a host of athletes. But, it's always fun to predict what will happen. And, so, let me take a minute to add my prognostications to the list.

I think that there are a handful of events and athletes who have the potential to rise up and leave us breathless.

My first choice is the girls AA 800 and 1600 meter events. In both events we have Keli Dennehy of Butte, Alexa Aragon of Billings Senior and Elizabeth Spartas of Bozeman. In the 800 add Nicole Rietz of Billings West, Auriele Fain of Billings Senior and Chantelle Grey of Missoula Sentinel. In the 1600, throw in Heather Fraley of Kalispell Glacier and Heidi Turner of Bozeman.

If we get the perfect storm of cool, calm weather with athletes all peaking at the right time and what a sight it could be. Imagine 5 to 6 girls coming down the home stretch of each race running sub-2:15 in the 800 and sub-5:10 in the mile. State record on the line in the 800 and sub-5:00 in the mile? That would be so cool. To me, these have the potential to be the races of the weekend. I'm going to go out on the limb and pick Aragon to get both wins.

But, right behind them could be the boys A 800, 1600 and 3200. The field may not be quite as deep; but, the top end quality could be spectacular. The trio of Patrick Casey (Laurel), Drew Coco (Whitefish) and Logan Torgison (Polson) could have races that could closely resemble boxing matches with the winner being the last one standing.

They are all tough, gutsy runners who all have great racing instincts at their young ages. And they are all fast. Sub-2:00, low to sub-4:20's and around 9:40. Casey has been undefeated in Cross Country and Track this year, Coco seems to have reached another level this track season, and Torgison takes his scrappy, wrestling persona onto the track and keeps on punching away until he breaks the opposition. If the world was fair, I would like to see all three races be fast and close, with each walking away with a win. But, the world ain't fair and I think that they'll all be fast and close and I predict Torgi takes the 800 and Casey gets the 1,600 and 3,200. (And will Casey add the 400 (he ran 51.67 at Divisionals) to the mix to try to help his team win the state title?)

Now, who will post the big individual performances:

Caitlan Stone of Seeley Swan goes sub-5:00 in the 1,600 and sub-10:45 in the 3,200.

Brian Schenevar of Thompson Falls gets a new Class B record in the pole vault and clears 15'.

Kourtney Danreuther of Big Sandy has THE performance of all the meets and breaks Julie Browns 35 year old 800 meter record and runs sub-2:10.

Depending on what events she decides to run, Alexa Aragon could have a monster weekend. In adition to my predictions about her winning the 800 and 1600, she is also a potential top 3 placer (possibly winning) in the 3,200, has qualified in the 400 with a 58+, and has one of the top girls pole vaults.

Can Tyzer Cady of Colstrip pull off a 3-win weekend (100, 200, 400) after winning all 3 at Divisionals. More importantly, can he get the 100 record of 10.74?

Can any boys pop off a 200' javelin throw? Aaron Palmer of Troy has been close a couple of times.

Will the Billings West girls 4 X 100 team put it all together to get a state record in the short relay?

Can Harrison's super frosh Shannon Young win the 3 longest races?

Will Bozeman's Alex Brekke overcome the great season that Sentinel's Robbie Brooks is having and add the 1600 and 3200 wins to go with his shocking win at State XC last fall?

Can Dalton Sybrant of Covallis set a new B mark in the discus and overcome the disappointment of having a no mark in the Shot Put?

It should be a great weekend. If you can make it to either of the meets, I encourage you to attend at least some of the events and see the best that our fine state has to offer in youth athletics.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Craig K Does Canada

Craig Kenworthy ran the Mississauga Marathon in Mississauga, Ontario on May 11th. He finished 29th overall (1387 total finishers) and 7th in the 45-49 age group with a stellar 3:05:42 performance.

Congratulations to Craig.


Girls, Girls, Girls

Sure, we all know and love that line as a song by Motley Crew. But, last Saturday, it was the theme on the streets of Billings as the 27th Women's Run took place with a record field of 6,441 women.

Sarah Graves (Ballantine)(former member of MSU-Billings XC team and 52nd women @ April's Boston Marathon) led the field of 2,001 5-miles with a time of @ 31:09. 47-year old Karen Sanford Gall (Billings) finished 2nd @ 32:56 (Karen was a 4-time Oly Trials Marathon Qualifier) and Nicole Lair (Billings) rounded out the top 3 @ 33:25. [Of note, the 8th place finisher (34:33) was Lisa Rainsberger (nee Weidenbach). Rainsberger was the pasta night speaker. For those of you who recall, Rainsberger finished in the dreaded 4th place slot at two consecutive Oly Trial Marathons.]

Meanwhile, the 4,440 2-mile finishers were led by master's runner Kathie Perrins (41) of Columbus in 12:22. Running 12:25 for second place was 2004 Oly Trials Maratoner, 48-year old Kathy Aragon. And, right on Kathy's heels was her 8th grade daughter Danielle (13) in 12:49. Next year, Dani will join her sister Alexa as part of the power house girls distance squad at Billings Senior.

But, let's set the race details aside for a minute. 6,441 runners and walkers. Think about that number. That's more women in one event than reside in most towns in the state. And, once the numbers are in, it will rank as one of the top 10, if not the top 5, women only running events in the United States. In fact, the 2-mile alone will likely be in the top 10.

It's a great testimony to the commitment of the women's run board of directors and the overall Billings community. And, not only is it a great running event and a celebration of women's health, the event gives back thousands of dollars every year to the community. The provide funds to such causes as providing mammograms for under-priveledged women, women's programs at the Billings YWCA, funds to the Yellowstone Rim Runners, and scholarships to female runners on the MSU-B and Rocky Mountain College XC squads. All in all, there's lots of good connected to this event.

For those women of you out there who haven't experienced the event before, I encourage you to put it on your calendar for next year.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Come On Up To Plains Day

For anyone looking for a return to the old days and wanting to get in a race without all the crowds and hoopla of Governor's Cup, come on up to Plains on June 7th.

35th Annual Plains Day

“Surfin’ in the Rockies”
5K Fun Run

Saturday, June 7, 2008
9:00 a.m.
(Registration opens @ 8:00 a.m.)

Start and Finish @ Plains High School
$15 includes t-shirt and refreshments

For More Information Call Lisa @ 826-7300 or
Tony @ 826-6108
Email @


Annual Female Migration On The Yellowstone

This Saturday will see the annual running of the Montana Women's Run 5-mile and 2-mile runs. I've had the honor of being able to help with this race over the last 15 years; and, I have to say, it is a great event.

It's a joyous celebration of women involving mothers, daughters, aunts, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, sisters and friends. Many families schedule reunions around this Mother's Day weekend event; and, I have seen women representing multiple generations of a family participating. Whether they walk, jog or run, it's a great demonstration of women's fitness.

With an 8-week getting started clinic, kid's focused events and the main day events, it's an event that has been embraced by the community. And, with around 6,000 competitors, it's turned into one of the largest women only events in the U.S.

I have to tell you, when the 2-mile and 5-mile races merge at about a mile, seeing downtown Billings filled with the color of the race t-shirts is a site to behold.

So for all those making the trip to Yellowstone County this weekend, good luck and enjoy. Remember to run happy and take pride in your performance.


Montana Bloomies

Well, it turns out that the Bloomsday results site isn't very friendly when you want to seach for names by state, city or any general category other and first or last name. But, was able to find the top 25 Montanans. They are:

Top 25 Finishers from Montana

1. Jimmy Grant, 29, of Missoula, MT 0:39:50
2. Jason A Walker, 30, of Missoula, MT 0:40:44
3. Brandon Fuller, 28, of Missoula, MT 0:41:03
4. Moses J Leavens, 23, of Great Falls, MT 0:43:21
5. Brad Koster, 23, of Helena, MT 0:45:23
6. Ted Burnham, 38, of Kalispell, MT 0:45:29
7. Jesse Q Carnes, 22, of Missoula, MT 0:46:27
8. Tom Clary, 57, of Kalispell, MT 0:46:29
9. Donald P Rosenleaf, 34, of Butte, MT 0:46:31
10. Megan Lerch, 24, of Missoula, MT 0:46:55
11. Kelly R Rice, 29, of Missoula, MT 0:46:55
12. Kenneth B Ellis, 52, of Missoula, MT 0:47:12
13. Richard Menicke, 47, of Whitefish, MT 0:47:33
14. Russ Gates, 29, of Helena, MT 0:47:51
15. Mary K Thane, 44, of Missoula, MT 0:48:19
16. Steve Gideon, 44, of Hamilton, MT 0:48:41
17. Thomas Everett, 18, of Missoula, MT 0:48:57
18. Brian Petty, 28, of Missoula, MT 0:49:08
19. Anders J Sr Brooker, 27, of Missoula, MT 0:49:11
20. Patrick J Mcclellan, 28, of Missoula, MT 0:49:11
21. Gary L Caton, 49, of Bozeman, MT 0:49:22
22. Dean M Lipp, 47, of Missoula, MT 0:49:31
23. Joshua C Hamilton, 16, of Missoula, MT 0:49:42
24. Kirk Lentz, 40, of Livingston, MT 0:49:45
25. Joseph A Joy, 24, of Missoula, MT 0:49:47

If you want to search for someone by name, go to the results page of the Bloomsday sight @


Monday, May 05, 2008

Watch Lyle Weese @ Cardinal Invitational

Check out this link to watch Lyle's win in his section of the steeplechase at the Peyton Jordan Cardinal Invitational at Stanford yesterday. Link at

With his 8:38.19 time, he made the B standard for the Olympic Trials steeplechase.

Congrats to Lyle


The New Queen???

Last night at the Peyton Jordan Cardinal Invitational at Stanford University, Shalane Flanagan had a spectacular debut at 10,000 meters. Running strong and fast right from the gun, Flanagan took over 17.5 seconds off Deena Kastor's American Record with a first place finish of 30:34.49 (that's 4:55 pace). Shalane now also has the outdoor 5,000 (14:44.80) and indoor 3,000 meter (8:33.25) records. In addition, she dominated the field in winning the USATF Cross Country Championships in February.

I know that Deena is the bronze medalist from the 2004 Olympics, won the Olympic Trials Marathon a couple of weeks ago, and soundly defeated Flanagan at the 2007 Cross Country Champs. But, Shalane seems to have taken another step in her fitness and racing abilities. She may not the queen bee quite yet; but, Deena may have to consider sharing the throne.


Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Stallion Masters

No, that's not the title of some wild porn movie starring Kenworthy and Jarmilla (except in CK's midnight dreams !!!!) Rather, it's in reference to the great performance of some of our very own old guys at the Big Sur Marathon Relay last weekend (4/27/08).

The Los Cincos Stalliones team of Bozeman was made up of Montana master athletes Craig Kenworthy, Mark Slater, Dan Guggenheim, Harry Johnson and John Zombro. Running in warm and breezy conditions on what is considered on of the more challenging road marathons in the US, they turned in a stellar time of 2:43:57.

This placed them 4th overall. Unfortunately, the masters division was super loaded this year and they ended up as 3rd masters team. As a result, they got a podium finish and brought home some hardware.

Congrats to the 5 wild stallions of Montana.