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.