Monday, April 20, 2009

Big Skies At Boston

Some pretty solid performances by Montanan's at today's Boston Marathon.

Overall, the races were won by Selina Kosgei of Kenya (2:32:16) and Deriba Merga of Ethiopia (2:08:42). Americans were 3rd in both races with Kara Goucher (2:32:25) and Ryan Hall (2:09:40) both running competitively (more on the American performances in a future post).

The top Montana male was once again Mel Hoffman of Sidney. The 45-year old ran 2:52:17 to place 592nd overall and 30th in the 45-49 age group.

Top female (and second overall Montanan) was Sara Graves. Now living in Ballantine, Sara is a Sidney native - giving rise to all kinds of eastern Montana athletic conspiracies. Running as part of the women's elite race, Sara ran a 2:52:42 to place 34th overall among the women. With the women heading off at a relatively slow start, you were able to see Sara in the back of the overall pack for the first couple of miles.

The rest of the top 10 Motanans's was:

Steve Bruner, 39, Bozeman, 2:54:11
Daryl Nourse, 26, Bozeman, 2:57:21
Stephen Rudmann, 41, White Sulphur Springs, 2:59:14
Brian Fruit, 47, Missoula, 2:59:20
Matt Edwards, 31, Bozeman, 3:01:08
Dean Lipp, 48, Missoula, 3:03:15
Michael Girolami, 22, Billings, 3:03:27
Todd Mays, 37, Billings, 3:03:36

I also needed to take a minute to recognize the great run by Tim Brooker from Plains and the Runner's Edge in Missoula. Running a superbly paced race, Tim (at 58) was the 14th Montanan finishing in 3:12:59 (7:22 pace) for 28th in the 55 - 59 age group. Going out at 1:39:18 for the 1st half, Tim came back in 1:33:41 for the 2nd half to hit an almost 6 minute negative split. Each 10K was faster than the one before (starting at 47:35 and 43:50 for his last 10K). Pretty studly running for big Tim.

For full results (overall and searchable results), check out

The Muddy Buzzard

Friday, April 17, 2009

This Weekend on the Road Front

A busy weekend on the road racing scene - at least if you live in western Montana. This weekend in Missoula, there are no fewer than 5 events. The Grizzly Man Adventure race (a few of you sickos out there my be partaking in this suffer fest), the Superfun(d) Run (Bonner) and the Target Range Family Fun Run will all take place on Saturday.

The Superfun(d) Run is a new race this year; but, promises some new challenges and scenery for the Missoula area runners what with all the trail, bridge and access changes that have happened in the last couple of years at the Bonner/Milltown supefund site.

On Sunday, Missoula will host the North Avenue Road Mile and the gASPing for Air Run.

Also on Sunday will be the Summit Classic in Kalispell (which has been the site of some fast performances in the past) and the Run For The Earth 5K in Bozeman.

But, the big news for Montana runners (at least 62 of them) will come on Monday at the Boston Marathon. Missoula (17 runners), Bozeman (16) and Billings (12) lead the way with participants from the state.

And, we have some people who could turn in some solid performances. First and foremost is Sara Graves of Ballantine. Sara just missed out on qualifying (by less than a minute) for the 2008 Oly Trials Marathon. But, her performances of the last couple of years have garnered her a 2nd chance to line up with the elite women at Boston. She'll be wearing bib F32 - that means she get the special bus ride to the start, warm-up area in the church at the starting line, access to the VIP tent post-race - all the perks of being a studette. Now, for the real challenge - can she have the fastest time for a Montanan at the race?? It's possible.....................

But, she'll have to battle with Steve Bruner and Matt Edwards of Bozeman. Both have drawn low bib numbers and will be starting out the first corral.

On the master's side, Brian Fruit and Dan Lipp of Missoula are both ready to roll. They've had a solid training group in Missoula all winter. I've had the opportunity to run a few track workouts with these guys in the last couple of months; and, they are in good shape. Sub-3:00 is probable, 2:45 range isn't out of reach.

Finally, I also know that Tim Brooker (he of Runner's Edge fame) is also ready to go. As a 58-year old, he should still be one of the top 5 - 8 runners from the state. Like Dean and Brian, Tim has had some solid, focused training with the Missoula group and he is in shape.

The race will be broadcast on You can also get updates and tracks the runner's progress at

Have a great weekend everyone. For those race this weekend - run fast and run hard.

For those heading to Boston - enjoy. It's an amazing experience.

As for the Buzzard - I'll be at the UM volunteering as a finish timer at the UM Open track meet on Saturday.

Well, got to get out the door. Going to head into Missoula tonight (and get the chance to see Dave Coppock); and, on such a glorious day, want to take advanatge of the blue skies and warm temps and hit the trails of Missoula for my run today.

The Muddy Buzzard

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thinclads Hit The Cinders

Man, sounds like a headline from my days in high school. Sad to say; but, I can actually remeber racing on cinders. In fact, I can remember racing on a dirt (yes dirt) track at an indoor meet in Brick Breedan Field House at MSU in 1980 (but, that's a whole other story).

With weather, spring breaks and the Easter holiday, it's been a slow start to the HS track season. And, in general, the early season performances have been a bit sluggish as well. But, as with all things, there have a been some exceptions.

Although I'm a distance guy at heart, I also have a real affection for the throws. Don't know why - but I really get a kick out of seeing guys like Lars Reidl, Lance Deal, Virgiligus Alekna and Jan Zelezny tossing their implements. So it's been a real pleasure to watch Corvallis' Dalton Sybrant throw the discus and put the shot the last couple of years. At Friday's Florence Invitational, he had a big day, throwing the discus a whopping 180' 9" (winning by over 20'). If he can add a few feet and pull off that kind of throw at the state meet, he could find his way into the all time top 10 performances in Montana.

But, as expected, we need to get back to the distances. The heat of the week came on the girls side as some of the fall XC competition has carried into the spring. In Billings on Friday, the Aragon sisters of Billigns Senior, Kelli Dennehy of Butte, and Nicole Reitz of Billings West ran more like it was the end of May than early April.

In the 800, Reitz, Dennehy and Dani Aragon had a wire to wire battle finishing in 2:18.58, 2:19.01 and 2:19.91 respectively.

The 1600 was no different, although the cast of characters changed slightly. This time the battle was between Dennehy and Alexa Aragon (both being juniors, we get an entire 'nother year of watching these two) with Dennehy eking out the win, 5:07.08 to 5:07.25. Could Heidi Lane's state record be in jeopardy????

Alexa A got a win in the 3,200 at 12:24. The time could potentially have been quicker; but, she also had to anchor the leg of Senior's win in the 4 X 400 and get a second place finish in the pole vault (10' 1"). [Given the fact that Alexa is also a state champion level gymnast, it's possible that she may be the most althetically talented athlete (boy or girl) in the state right now.]

Looking forward to some big stuff from the youngsters over the next couple of months. If you get the chance to stop by a local HS meet in the near future, I would encourage you to do so. It's some great, low cost weekend entertainment.

The Muddy Buzzard

Saturday, April 11, 2009

She's Back, She's Fast, She's Still An Animal

A clear, calm and crisp morning awaited those who showed up in Butte this morning for the 29th annual running of the Big Butte Challenge. Didn't get the final participant count; but, it appeared as though there must have been around 100 combined entrants between the 5K and 11K runs.

And, there was some solid competition at the front end, especially in the 11K. But, let's first hit on the 5K. Given the altitude (approx. 5,800') and the incessant hills behind Montana Tech, there is no way around the course being challenging. In spite of those challenges, 52-year old Ray Matteson of Butte turned in a solid time of 18:49 in easily winning the race and moving to position #8 in the top 10 list. Another of the ageless Butte wonders, Suzie Kaluza (48??) dispatched the women's field whiling running 21:47. Suzie now owns 10 of the top 11 times in this event.

But, the marque event at this race is the 11K up, over and around Big Butte (aka - The "M" Hill). The first mile contains one of the gnarliest, nastiest hills in the Rocky Mountain West. Luckily, it's followed by about 3 miles of solid downhill on some nice graveled roadway. But then, you have to finish up the last half of the race with some long, grinding climbs and some steep, "rolling" hills.

Thomas Joidin of Helena showed up for the race taking aim at the 25-year old course record of yours truly. The last time that I ran this event was in 1984 and, in an epic battle with Jeff "The Mountain Goat" Thomas was able to run the course in a time of 40:53. Missing the record by a miniscule amount, Thomas dominate the run from beginning to end. His time of 41:18 missed the standard by a mere 25 seconds and moved him into the number 5 spot on the all time list. (BTW, Jeff Thomas holds spots 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 11 and 13.)

In a distant second was Jesse Berwald of Bozeman. But, his 46:01 finish time did land him in the elusive sub-47:00 club.

25-years after my last vist, I was able to garner 3rd overall (and first master) and add another time to the sub-47 club with my 46:46 finish. 2nd Master and 5th overall was Marvin Speece of Butte in a time of 48:26.

But, now to the title of the post. In a strong 4th place overall finish (and first woman obviously), Nicole Hunt of Deer Lodge (38) not only set a new women's all time record (breaking her 2007 record of 47:23), she also became the first woman to enter the sub-47:00 club. After giving birth to little Eon Journey in mid-2008, Nicole appears to have come back as strong as ever.

Second women overall was ultra-runner supreme Nikki Kimball of Bozeman in 51:45. Right after the run, Kimball was getting ready to head to Pipestone Pass to head out for a long run (as a second workout) on the Cont. Divide Trail.

Third woman was the young (19) Kaci Hockadya of Butte. A Butte High grad and now Montana Tech student, her 55:24 places her in the top 25 all time.

One notable abscence at the race was Ray Hunt. An untimely injury meant that he wasn't able to decimate the masters field and give Joidin a run for his money. And, I would be remiss if I didn't give props to Ray for all the work that he has done in documenting the history of Butte racing (for some great results from past Butte area races, check out the info on

All in all, it was a great way to kick off the Easter weekend.

The Muddy Buzzard.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Come To The Land Of The Wild Horses

Live in Western Montana and looking for an old-school, down-home race option to the mayhem and madness at the Governor’s Cup. Come on down to the Plains Day 5K.

The Start and Finish will be at Plains High School.

Race start @ 9:00 a.m. Race Day Registration begins at 7:45 a.m.

Challenging 5K on paved and dirt roads with great views of the Lower Clark Fork Valley.

$15 entry fee.

Stick around after the run and enjoy all the Plains Day activities. It's a local celebration for the Plains (originally known as Wild Horse Plains) community and includes a parade, kids activities, chain saw cutting contests and the ever popular turtle races (that's right, I said turtle races).

Interested in making the trip to the Clark Fork River Valley - Contact = Tony @ 826-6108 or

Saying Good Bye To One Our Own

Had the opportunity to do the Tuesday night track workout with Run Wild Missoula on the UM track the other night. Also present was Steve Simpson. I hadn't seen Steve in quite some time; so, thought that I would take the chance to say hi and catch up.

Turns out I was lucky to run into him as we happened to be in town for just a short time while in process of moving to Auckland, New Zealand. Steve and his partner Ken have chosen to take the road less hectic and "retire" to an easier life in the southern hemisphere.

Steve grew up in Helena and was a member of the MSU Bobcat track and xc squads in the early and mid-'80's. In fact, he is still #10 on the MSU all-time lists for the 10,000 (with a 30:43 from 1986). Over the last 20 years he would show up and run fast on the roads or the xc courses as an open and masters athlete.

In fact, he ran with the first ever Big Sky Distance Project Team at the USATF Club Marathon Relay Chempionships in Denver in 2006.

It will be a shame to see Steve leave the Big Sky country for souther climes; but, the Muddy Buzzard wishes him wll on his new life adventure.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Running with the Buffaloes

No, this isn't about the University of Colorado XC team. It's a story I did for the local weekly paper about Ronda LeClair of Plains and her performance at the Buffalo Run in Salt Lake City. Ronda's one of those runners who can get into a groove and just keep hitting that pace for hours.

According to her husband and son, she had the lead at 38 miles; but, she maybe pushed a bit hard in the early, hilly miles and it caught up with her a bit over the last 10 to 15 kilometers.

At any rate, here is my report to the papers.

The Muddy Buzzard

On Saturday, March 28th, Ronda LeClair of Plains competed in the Buffalo Run 50-Mile Race outside of Salt Lake City. The race was held at Antelope Island State Park - which is on the largest island (28,000 acres) in the Great Salt Lake. There are about 45 miles of trails on the island, which is inhabited with 500 head of buffalo together with deer, antelope, bighorn sheep and numerous bird species.

Much like the Energizer Bunny, Ronda just kept going - and going - and going. She went all the way to 34th place overall (out of 106 total), 3rd place among the women and 1st place in the women's 50 - 59 age group. Her time of 9 hrs., 10 min. and 40 secs. means that she ran right at 11 minutes per mile over the 50 miles of hilly trails. (Another way to think of this is that she did the equivalent of 200 laps around the Plains HS track with each lap in about 2 minutes & 45 seconds!!!!) With the race beginning at 6:00 a.m., Ronda was done in plenty of time to clean up and make it to Salt Lake City in time for dinner!

Completing and ultramarathon (defined as any race longer than the standard 26.2 mile marathon distance) requires a unique blend of endurance and determination and the ability to manage the fatigue that is inevitable in an event that lasts longer than a standard work day. Ronda clearly showed that she was able to conquer the challenges on race day.

Ronda was joined by her husband Jim on race day. Jim chose to run the shorter 25 Kilometer (15.5 miles) event, finishing in a time of 3 hrs., 29 min. and 14 secs. Apparently the family that runs together stays together!

Both Ronda and Jim are extremely humble and would be the last to let you know about their accomplishemnts; so, the next time that you see them around town be sure to congratulate them on their spectacular finishes.

Buttercup Run

Held as a fundraising event for the Friends of Arlee (to help promote funding of the Arlee Public Schools), the annual Buttercup Run was held last Saturday (March 28th). Since it was about the only game in town last weekend, they had a pretty decent total turnout - even if the race times weren't super fast.

Youth ruled the day in the day in the 5K. 15-year old Emily Schall from Frenchtown (I think) pulled out a close win over Jennifer Draughon (40) of Missoula, 20:26 to 20:44. (BTW - Emily and Jennifer placed 4th and 6th overall among all runners.)

On the men's (boy's) side, 13-year old Adam Peterman had a comfortable win while running an 18:33. Pretty respectable time for someone a junior high aged boy.

In the 10K, the kids got a bit of smackdown from the older folks. On the men's side, Ted Burnham (39 - damn - that means that we're not that long till he joins the master's ranks) took the win in 37:40. He had to outrun Missoula Hellgate runner Christopher Everett (15) and his time of 39:03. Also impressive was David Rowell at 52 finishing 3rd overall.

On the women's side, Bridget Moriarty tok the win in 46:38.

All in all, looks like they had about 55 in the 10K and 225 in the 5K. Not a bad turnout.

Full Results can be found at:

The Muddy Buzzard

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Happy Anniversary

So, it's been one year since my crash and burn. April Fool's Day 2008 and I fracture my patella (kneecap). April Fool's Day 2009 and all is mostly well.

It's been a long, long road back from the fracture, the rehab, the strengthening, the conditioning, etc. I'm not 100%; but, getting closer every week. My mileage is pretty much normal, I'm racing again and my training and race paces are beginning to come back to pre-injury levels.

Now my goal is to be able to get back to my performance levels of my first couple of years as a master and to be ready to perform well at some of the big races such as Montana Cup.

But, again, I'm just happy to be healthy and back being able to run every day and enjoying putting in the miles.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard.