Sunday, May 31, 2009

Challenging the Mountain

Yesterday was the Evaro Mountain Challenge in, on and around the wonderful ranch of Bob Hayes in Evaro (NW of Missoula on Hwy 93). It lives up to the name; and, is, in fact, a rightfully challenging race.

The 5K is a pretty basic out and back with an uphill grade going out and a nice downhill grade coming back in.

The 10K is a modified loop and is much more challenging than the 10K. It's a mix of challenging climbs in the first half, a wide variety of footing (dirt roads, single track trails, double-track jeep trails, and self mad forest trails on dirt and grass). It's amazing to realize that the course records are really quite fast (both held by the Hunts (Ray and Nicole) from 2002 and 2003 I believe). The men's record is 32:54 and the women's is 38:38. If you've run this race before, you'll realize that those are stellar performances.

Well, the records are still safe after this year; but, some of the Missoula speedsters came out and made a run for them.

On the men's side, Jimmy Grant and Keifer Hahn went out hard and fast, taking advantage of good spring fitness. They clearly gapped the rest of field within the first couple of hundred meters and never looked back. After a close race for the duration, Jimmy prevailed by 10 seconds over Keifer, 33:20 to 33:30 with Jimmy missing the record by a mere 26 seconds.

Third overall in the men's race, and first master was your very own Muddy Buzzard. Not really the performance that I'm really hoping for; but, every event seems to be a bit of an improvement. So, I guess I just have to be patient. Not really even being in the same race as Grant and Hahn, I was almost 5 minutes back of them, finishing in 37:55. My only real solace is that I was under Nicole's record. Hey - we have to take the small victories wherever we can !!!!

On the women's side, Rye Palen went out hard, setting her sights on the record. Fighting the footing over the 2nd half of the race, Rye missed out by 36 seconds with a 39:14. 2nd women was Jennifer Sauer in 45:40 and 3rd overall (and 1st Master) was Pam Schiemer in 46:26.

It was a great morning for racing. Mostly calm, with overcast skies; and, maybe in the low 60's. And the setting is fantastic. Great forest roads and trails and the Haye's property is a real gem. It also has a history that is connected to running from back in the Native American days (Jimmy Grant made mention of this as we were talking post race) - here's a link to a story on a Montana history blog about the run -

It was a fun, old school race that I would recommend to anyone in the area.

The Muddy Buzzard.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Big Weekend Ahead

Busy, busy weekend for road racing and track and field in Montana.

First and foremost is the state track and field meets (AA & B in Kalispell - A & C in Butte). See my preview comments from a couple of days ago. And, I'll do a review post sometime Sunday or Monday.

Second up is the NCAA Regional Meets. Montana and Montana State will be at the Midwest Regional in Norman, Oklahoma. I'll try to hit the highlights for kids with Montana connections.

On the roads, we have one of the bigger weekends of the spring with no fewer than 6 events. On Saturday, we have the Evaro Mountain Challenge outside of Missoula, The Great Northern 5K in Kalispell, The Children's Health River Run in Livingston, The East Helena Fun Run, & The Shaping Our Community Fun Run in Havre.

On Sunday Jim Brewer and the University of Great Falls will be hosting th 2nd Annual Buffalo Jump Runs (1/2 Marthon, 10K, 5K) at the Buffalo Jump in Ulm (outside of Great Falls). All the proceeds from this run will go to benefit the UGF XC and Track teams - a very worthy cause.

The Buzzard will be hitting the back roads of Evaro and taking the Mountain Challenge.

For all those running and racing this weekend - good luck, have fun, and enjoye the pleasant spring weekend!!!!

Getting Bolder in Boulder

Alan King had another good race at the Bolder Boulder this past Memorial Day. Running a solid 33:56, he placed 44th overall in a highly competitive field. For anyone that hasn't run this race before, it is a deceptively challenging course; and, sub-34:00 is a very, very good time.

Also in the race was former Bozeman resident Tommy Manning. Now living in Colorado Springs, Manning finished 19th overall with a time of 32:46.

The Muddy Buzzard

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Oval Beckons

Districts and Divisionals are done; and, all that is left of the 2009 High School Track season are the carnivals known as the state meets. These meets are always filled with great performances, fantastic back stories, upsets, anguish, joy, celebration and two great days of all-track, all-the-time.

A couple of my picks for events and individuals to watch.

For me - the races of the weekend are going to come in the girls AA 800 and 1,600. In the 800, Kelli Dennehy of Butte, Dani and Alexa Aragon of Billings Senior and Nicole Reitz of Billings West have been battling away all year. They've had multiple races where they have finished within a second or two of each other; and, I don't see any let up when all the marbles are on the table.

Then, on to the 1,600. REplace Reitz with Heidi Turner and you have the same set up. This group has run under 5:10 on a couple of occasions. At Divsionals last weekend, less than 1/2 second separated Dennehy and the Aragons from 1st to 3rd; and, Turner was only 3 seconds back of this group.

These girls have all been running very well all year (going all the way back to cross country); and, they seem to be staying sharp right to the end of the track season. Aside from the question of who will come out as champion, two other questions are connected.

First - will we see a state record in either of these two events (800 = 2:11.10 & 1,600 = 4:55.18)? If one of these girls decides to put it all on the line for one of the events, anything is possible.

Second - can Dennehy pull off a tri-fecta (800, 1,600 and 3,200). It will be tough to pull out wins in all 3; but, it would cap an amazing season if she could run the tables.

Now on to some individuals - Can Chris Wilson of CMR get new state records and state bests in the 100 and 200 meter runs. For state records (which are only recognized from races at the state meet) he'll be chasing times of 10.74 and 21.51. He'll be chasing state bests (which can be set at meets outside of the state championships) of 10.48 and 21.37 - both of which Wilson set last weekend at the Divisional Meet in Great Falls.

Now, I've never been one to take stock in fast 100 and 200 meter times from early season meets. Inexperiences timers, wind, hand time, etc. Just too many variables that affect the times. But, Wilson has run some super fast times at some meets using fully auto timing; and, he has been running fast, fast, fast. If he has a good weekend, he could bring the times in both of these events to a whole new level.

Can Drew Coco of Whitefish finish off a stellar season. To go along with his state XC championships can he pull off multiple wins this coming weekend? Not sure about what he'll run; but, he is qualified in the 800, 1600, 3200 and 4x400 relay. He's at or near the top of the yearly list in each event; and, he's shown himself to be a tough competitor. Going undefeated at state meets would be a heck of a way to finish off your senior season.

And, finally - will Class B athletes be able to pull off the best performances of the year in the boys and girls javelins? I've been amazed this year to see that these small school performers throw the javlin as far, or farther, than athletes from the big schools. Will Aaron Palmer of Troy pull out another 200+ throw? Can Ashley Vandolah (Choteau) or Rheanna Padden (Thompson Falls) approach 140 for the girls?

For those of you that are able to make the meets this coming weekend - you have lots of great track coming up. For those that can't be there, check the newspapers and see if your favorites took the gold.

I'll do some follow ups of my performances of the meets and let you know who I think deserves to be considered the best of the best.

The Muddy Buzzard

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lot's of Happy Mom's????

May 9th at the Don't Fence Me In Trail Races in Helena (to Benefit the Prickly Pear Land Trust).

Kiefer Hahn and Michele Bazanella take the 30K titles in 2:09.41 & 2:38.47 respectively. 4th and 6th overall went to the top 2 masters runners. Kyle Strode continues his breakout Master's season with a 2:20:46. Scott Gaiser continues to run solid and hit 2:26:04.

In the 12K, Nicole Hunt showed that she was no the worse for wear after her Bloomsday effort by taking a commanding victory in 57:16. Thomas Jodoin had another strong race by getting a 3 minute victory over Zack Strong (48:08 to 41:15). Greg Wirth rounded out the top 3 with a 54:14 effort.

On the same day - the extravaganza known as the Montana Women's Run took place in Billings. A new record turnout occurred with almost 7,000 women celebrating healthy lifestyles.

The 2-mile was dominated by Master's, as over 40 runners took the top 3 positons. 4-time Oly Trials Marathon competitor Karen Sanford Gall (48) took the win @ 12:42. She was followed by Kathie Perrins (42) @ 13:19 and Laura Esp (46) at 13:39. Old Chicks Rule!!!!!

The 5-mile proved to be an easy victory for Sarah Graves. Having finished 32nd at Boston only 3 weeks ago, she had a solid run of 31:07. Billings Runners Eryn Caton and Jen Reiter finished out the top 3 (32:08 & 32:35 respectively). Top master in the 5-Mile was Cathy McKenzie (42) of Powell, WY in 33:52.

The Muddy Buzzard.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What The F&^%$#(K

So, was checking out the Susan Komen Race For The Cure web site to check out the results (race held last weekend on May 16th).

Now I understand that the focus for the this race is to raise money for research into and to raise awareness of Breast Cancer. An unbelievably worthy cause; and, the races around the country have raised millions of dollars towards curing this terrible disease. The founders nationally and at the state level are to be commended for their efforts.

But, this event is billed as a Race. And, for years the event in Helena was a good competitive event. But, look at this text right off the event website:

Due to many factors, the Komen Montana Race for the Cure will not be an officially timed race in 2009. There will be a timing clock at the finish line so that you can mark your own personal time. Awards for the 5K will be determined by race place finish only, not official times.

Talk about a buzz kill. Guess it's no longer the Race for the Cure. Just the casual run or walk around the block for the cure.

Kind of a bizarre way to handle the event. But, there you go. Maybe it's more of the Everyone's a Winner philosophy.

As to the winners - not sure who they were. Nowhere on the site do I see a tab for results.

I'm sure everyone had a good time, lots of money was raised, and progress was made towards eradicating this hideous disease. But, if we aren't going to time the run or be concerned about results & awards - let's be open and honest and not suggest that this is any longer a race event.

A few more cents from the Buzzard's Roost.

Too Much Info - Or Not

One of the things that people bring up about our current age of technology is that "There is too much information out there. It's overwhelming."

Well, that's true in many cases. But, not always so much when it comes to Montana road racing. Between, the yellowstone rim runners site, Big Sky Wind Drinkers, Butte's Piss and Moan runners and some of the other web sites - it's pretty easy to find calendars of races and be able to plan your race schedule pretty far out in advance.

Okay, so you get done with the race and want to find out how you did. Back in the day, the paper's were pretty good about putting results in the agate type. But, in the internet age, the papers have largely left that up to the races.

But, it's amazing how many of the races, especially the smaller ones - don't have a follow up system to post results. And, it's too bad. The result is that some good performances probably go unnoticed since no one ever sees the final results.

In the big picture, it's a pretty minor problem. But, still worthy of jumping up on the soap box for a minute or two.

The Muddy Buzzard

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Trying To Catch Up

The Buzzard has been a bit busy lately; so, haven't been able to get on-line much. But, going to be trying to get some things caught up in the next few days. So, keep checking back regularly and I'll do my best to hit highlights of the recent past and preview some of the upcoming events.

The Muddy Buzzard

Monday, May 04, 2009

Bloomsday Results - MT Runners

Top 25 Montanan's (+ 1 extra)

Runner Age Town Time Overall Age-Group

1 Jimmy Grant 30 Msla 39:16 36 8
2 Casey Jermyn 27 Msla 40:23 56 25
3 Ian Blair 37 Blngs 43:04 108 9
4 Nicole Hunt 39 DL 44:27 31W/141 5
5 Alec Surynt 18 Big Frk 44:36 146 16
6 Ed Detzi 42 Bozeman 44:36 16
7 Doug Neil 30 Bozeman 44:49 19
8 Tony Banovich 46 Plains 45:09 3
9 Tim Dumas 41 Bozeman 45:27 18
10 Ted Burnham 39 Kalispell 45:44 12
11 Jake Neil 30 Bozeman 45:48 23
12 Dan Rosenleaf 35 Butte 46:03 13
13 Tim Brooker 58 Plains 46:53 2
14 Don Sundberg 57 Butte 47:04 4
15 Rye Palen 34 Msla 47:25 9
16 Ken Ellis 53 Msla 47:27 4
17 Tom Clary 58 Kalispell 47:36 7
18 Steve Morley 41 Big Fork 47:47
19 Bill Brist 45 Kalispell 48:05 15
20 Doug Wade 36 Livingston 48:23
21 Gary Clayton 50 Bozeman 48:53
22 Jenny Newton 38 Msla 48:57
23 Steve Gideon 45 Hamilton 48:59
24 Joseph Joy 25 Msla 49:14
25 Enrique Benitez 28 Msla 49:16
26 Mary Thane 45 Msla 49:26 2

In an early season, out of state, unofficial, semi-meaningful, Montana Cup Preview - the top 3 teams (including open men, masters men and women) are - Kalispell (53), Bozeman (53) (Kalispell wins with the higher scoring 6th man [18th versus 21st]), Missoula (56). Go Big White!!!!!! This may be the closest we get to winning the overall team championship ;-)

Outside of the top 25 from the Big Sky, we also have the Age Group Highlights

Mary Dean 53:01 1st, 50-54
Lauri Detzi 52:28 5th, 40-44
Jennifer Straughon 58:40 6th, 50-54
Pam Schiemer 53:56 8th, 40-44
Marta Fisher 49:35 12th, 30-34
Eddi Walker 63:36 15th, 55-59
Amber Wood-Jensen 52:46 18th, 30-34
Jennifer Burke 52:20 21st, 35-39

My votes for performances of the day go to a bunch of our over 50 crowd. How about Mary Dean of Butte, Tim Brooker of Plains and Don Sundberg of Butte getting 1st, 2nd and 3rd place age-group placings. And Tim and Don had a great race within a race, finishing within 11 seconds of each other and both running fantastic times.

Honorable Mentions go to Nicole Hunt as she continues a strong return in the era of AE (After Eon). 31st woman, 4th Age Group, 3rd fastest Montanan. Also a shout to Mary Thane with her 2nd place age group finish in the 45-49 age group.

For full results, go to They have results that are searchable by name. Unfortnately, they only show the top 25 from Montana. So, you have to pretty much know who you are looking for, then search that way.

If I've missed anyone in the age group placings, let me know, leave a comment and I'll update the post.

The Muddy Buzzard

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Bloomin' Good Fun

Just got back to Plains from Spokane - beautiful drive over the Thompson Pass Road.

Bloomsday was a blast. Weather was great - mid-40's during the race. Some wind; but, nothing severe and never enough to really affect pace or effort.

I hadn't been to Bloomsday in 10 years; and, I forgot what a blast it was to hit a mega-event. The whole carnival atmosphere really makes the whole racing experience that much more enjoyable.

My race went okay. Didn't quite hit my goal of a sub-45:00 race. Was just off with a 45:15 or so (still waiting to see the official results). Never felt in a really good rythm and didn't feel "fast". But, at the same time, never really felt bad either. And, never had any real bad patches. Just kind of a bland day. On the up side, was happy that I stayed within about 15 - 20 seconds of pace (relative to the overall race pace) on the hill at 2 miles and on Doomsday.

The rest of the family had pretty good days. Zoe ran the farthest that she ever has and hit about 1:08:30 for her race. Just a bit over 9:00 pace for her. And Erin hit 9:35's in her 1:11:30+-. They both enjoyed the event immensely. Who knows, I may even convert Erin into a true runner yet. It's taken me 25 years; but, I'm still working on it.

Not sure who all was there from Montana - but, here is who I saw.

Nicole Hunt and Mary Thane both ran in the elite women's race. Nicole was around 44:30 and was in the top-10 American women and probably in the top-30 overall. And, likely in the top-5 of 1st year mommies :-) Mary ran around 49:00; but, wasn't sure where that place her.

Casey Jermyn was in the elite men's start. Didn't see him after; so, not sure how he made out.

Rye Palen and Jenny Newton of Missoula were on the front line of the 2nd seed field and both had to have been in the high 40's low 50's.

Mark and Jennifer Burke of Frenchtown were also in the front of the 2nd Seed, together with the Neal twins of Bozeman.

Tim Dumas of Bozeman was close behind me at the finish and must have been in the 46's.

Tim Brooker of Missoula had to have been around 50:00 as a 58-year old. Pretty impressive considering Boston was only 3 weeks ago.

Also saw Don Kardong (founder of Bloomsday and 4th place in the 1976 Olympic Marathon) (tsk tsk to you if youd didn't already know that piece of running history) at the start of the 2nd Seed area. He had on a cool Bloomsday singlet that read "I've Run Them All" on the back.

Will have to wait a day or two to get the full results; but, they can be found at for those that are interested. I'll try to list the highlights here by mid week.

The Muddy Buzzard

A Bloomin' Morning

Things didn't look so hot as we rolled into town late yesterday noon. Chilly, windy and rainy. Not really what you look for on a race day.

Well, at 6:15 a.m. - the race gods are smiling (let's hope they stay in a good mood!) It's crisp (maybe high 40's), dry (even though the road surface is wet) and mostly calm. If we could race right now, the weather conditions would be almost perfect.

The clouds look to be high enough that rain is not imminent. Here's to hoping for the best.

The Muddy Buzzard

Friday, May 01, 2009

Calling All Bloomie

It's that time of year where all the Buzzards migrate west to Spokane for the annual Bloomfest.

Looking for some good performances from Big Sky athletes. I believe that Jimmy Grant, Casey Jermyn and Nicole Hunt will all be toeing the line. Will Mary Thane be back for a podium finish in the master's category?

Looks like the weather is set to be wet and windy. On the upside, overheating will likely not be a problem :-)

The Buzzard himself will be at the start. I don't have any real expectations. My goal would be to hit 45:00. Well off my better times on this course; but, for the time being, I would be happy with that type of performance and use it as a building block to some higher level racing later in the year.

At any rate, look for the yellow and white of the Big Sky Distance Project and give a shout out if I pass you buy.

Good luck to all.........................

.........................and we'll see you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard

April Trifecta

It was a trifecta weekend all the way around on the weekend of April 25th & 26th.

The 25th saw the running of the 37th??Annual RiverBank Run in Missoula. In one of the more unique race formats in the state, this event includes an acutal trifecta. The trifecta is made up on runnings competing in all three available races - 10K, 5K, 1-Mile (in that order); and, they were by far the most competitive races across the board of the 3 weekend events.

Michael Fisher leads Matt Winter at RiverBank Run
In the 10K, Jimmy Grant had a fine tune-up for next week's Bloomsday with a 7 second win over Matt Winter (31:47 to 31:54). Strung out behind them were Michael Fisher(32:16), Michael Wolfe (32:48), Kiefer Hahn (33:03) and Collin Ferh (33:40). Scott Gaiser scored a masters victory over 52-year old Ray Matteson - 35:57 to 36:04 (another 7 second margin) (with Scott and Ray getting 9th and 10th overall). John Herring was third master at 36:23.

On the women's side, Rye Palen took the victory over Jessica Johnson and Mary Thane (1st Masters) - 38:53, 39:01 and 39:20.

Next up was the 5K. Michael Fisher came back strong to take the win in 15:20. Matt Winter was 2nd again, this time 19 seconds back in 15:39. The top 5 were rounded out by Michael Wolfe, Kiefer Hahn and Collin Fehr (15:51, 16:00 and 16:11). The Masters results followed the 10K with Scott Gaiser in 17:17, Ray Matteson in 17:29 and John Herring in 17:34.

Vicky Lynch Pounds had an easy time in the women's race, finishing in 17:56 and just missing the overall top 10.

After the 5K and 10K, Winter had a 3 second lead over Fisher in the trifecta competition for the open runners while Gaiser led Matteson by 19 seconds in the masters race.

The mile was going to be the deciding factor in both races. On the open side, Fisher beat Matt by 7 seconds to push Matt to his third 2nd-place finish of the day. The mile win gave Fisher the overall trifecta title, 52:05 to 52:09. On the master's side, Gaiser won the mile by 6 seconds and extended his lead over Matteson to win the event, 58:19 to 58:44.

All in all, it was a super solid day of racing in The Garden City and you can see full results at

Now, onto The Windy City and the breezy event known as Ice Breaker. The three mile was won by Moses Leavens in 15:43. Bill Ballinger pulled out the masters win and a 7th overall finish in 17:48. The women's race was wone by Jacey Stahlberg in 19:26, with the ageless Suzie Kaluza a close behind 2nd overall/1st master in 19:43.

But, the real racing at Ice Breaker is always in the 5-Mile. Alan King of Billings wentout hard, hangin onto the back of the Kenyans. But, Alan paid a bit for his early excitement and was passed by Thomas Joidin in the oh so long finishing stretch along the park. Joidin finished 3rd in 26:12, King was at 26:25 (4th). Jim Brewer (UGF XC Coach) was 5th in 27:12. Considering the conditions, these were some solid times.

On the masters side, Kyle Strode continued his solid year with an 8th place overall and 28:13 time. Ed Detzi was 2nd master/15th overall in 29:43. Bill Brist made further strides in his racing comeback by getting 3rd master/21st overall in 30:55.

On the women's side, wonder mom Nicole Hunt was 3rd behind the two "ringers" (and in the top 15 overall) with a 29:33 finish. She was followed by Rachel Brewer in 29:40. 1st Masters woman and 7th overall was Julie Gilchrist of Ovando in 33:04.

Ful results of all races are at:

Finishing off the day was the run portion of Peaks to Prairie in Red Lodge. Full results of each of the event legs and the overall team and solo results are at The 8.8 course, although downhill, was hampered this year by snowy, windy weather.

Fulton & Michels break to the front right out of the gate at Peaks

Kurt Michels led the charge with a finish of 47:18 and was followed by Kelly Fulton in 50:11.

Of special note, Andrew Drobek finished 6th in the run portion at 51:26, then went on to solo the rest of the race (43 mile bike and 23 mile kayak) and win the solo category in 5:07:56.
Holy Crap, I'm worn out just thinking about all that racing. What a weekend.
The Muddy Buzzard

The Buzzard Catches Up

So, I've had some serious road time over the last week. Started last Tuesday (the 21st) and drove to Pocatello for a conference (too much beer, too much crappy food, too little sleep). On Friday I drove to Missoula, then got on a plane to Phoenix to visit my son (10 hours of travel). Back on the plane Monday to Missoula, then drive to Butte that night. Up early and drive to Billings for business, then back in the car and drive from Missoula to Plains on Wednesday. I've got a serious case of Trucker's Butt...........................and it ain't pretty.

On the upside - while in the Phoenix area, I was able to get in a race on Saturday. Did the Run For The Cheetah 5K in Tempe (around the Phoenix Zoo area in Papago Park). The travel caught up to me and I was pretty flat. Still, was able to squeeze out an 18:26, good for 1st Masters and 7th overall.

But, that meant that I missed some serious racing back home. With RiverBank, Ice Breaker and Peaks to Prairie, the racing was hot.

But, before we get into the big racing, let's catch up on a few races from the week before.

Saturday April 18th saw a new race in Bonner, the Superfun(d) Run. It was held on some new pathways that are part of the Bonner/Milltown Superfund project. Race results can be found at

The 5K and 10K were both won by masters. The 5K saw Kevin Plumage score a close win over Tyler Johnson and Adam Perment (13 years old????). The times were 18:00, 18:03 and 18:05 respectively. On the women's side, Lisa Hayhurst won in 20:53.

In the 10K Chuck Dumke won in 37:42, finishing about 1/2 mile ahead of Michael LaForest (39:07). Trisha Miller continued her solid year by winning the women's race in 41:47.

Up in Kalispell on the 19th, the Annual Summit Classic took place. The young guns took the reins in the 5K, with Leif Castren of Flathead High winning in 17:37, with a :25 win over Logun Norris. Making a return to racing and winning the master's division was Whitefish XC coach and MSU great Bill Brist (running 19:01). The women's race was won by Shannon Thompson in 22:04.

In the 10K, the old guys prevailed with Scott Gaiser (master) winning by :49 seconds over Ted Burnham (39), 38:10 to 38:59. Niki Dezzani won the women's event in 45:54.

Full results can be found at

More coming up on the big spring weekend of the 25th/26th.

The Muddy Buzzard