Friday, December 03, 2010

The King Visits Sacramento

Alan King will be taking a big shot at dream this weekend.  He left today for Sacramento, CA in preparation for the 2010 California International Marathon (CIM) on Sunday. 

It was at this same race in 2007 where Alan finished in the top 10 (9th overall) and set his PR of 2:29:25 (2:29:21 chip time).  But, this time around, he's looking to take a "run" at the next level.

Alan Running With The Big Boys @ USATF XC Nationals - 2010

His goal - 2:19:00 or faster and make the qualifying time for the 2012 USATF Men's Marathon Olympic Trials.  It's a big jump from his current PR ----- but, over the last 3 years, Alan has become a truly different runner.  And, in 2010 he's become a dominant runner on the Montana scene.

With the exception of the Bozeman Classic race in early August (where he still got 3rd place in a time in the mid-33's), he's competed at an extremely high level all year.

Alan @ Ice Breaker

Here's to Alan in his quest for stringing together the set of 5:18's that he'll need in order to make a trip to Houston in January 2012.  Hopefully he has some company out along the course.  CIM has offered some cash incentives to those making the qualifying time; and, CIM is known as a good, fast course.  So, the expectation is that there should be a train of guys in that 2:17 to 2:22 range that he should be able to latch onto.

Weather forecasts looks mostly good - low 40's at start to maybe low 50's at finish.  A light tailwind to quatering wind possible.  The only hiccup could be rain.  There is a 50% chance of rain, with some heavy rain forecast for Sunday night.  Let's hope it holds off until sometime after noon on Sunday (with race start at 7:00 a.m., Al should be done by 9:19 :D ).

I believe that he is number 124; and, CIM indicates that they will have race day athlete tracking ( see website at ); so, get online and check out Alan's progress.

Good luck Al - Run Hard.  Run Fast. 

Do The Big Sky Proud.

The Muddy Buzzard

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Streak Ends

Now - I'm not a true honest to goodnedss streaker.  Yeah, I would rather run every day then not.  But, missing a day or two here and there thru the year generally isn't the end of the world.  But, early this summer it dawned on me that it seemed like I hadn't missed a day in a while.  And, it turns out that I was right.

As of Tuesday, I was at 705 consecutive days.  And.......................that's where it ends.  705 days and some 4,500 to 4,700 miles later.

So,, what was it thta end the streak - Well, I got to spend an exciting day yesterday at the Montana Heart Institute undergoing a heart angiogram.

Good news was that the pipes look clear.

"Bad" news, angio did confirm an ejection fraction of only 30% to 35%.

So, they'll keep me on a medical regimen for now.  In 3 months we'll do a new echo cardiogram and see if the meds have helped to improve heart function. 

If so, we'll keep at it.  If not, we'll figure out the next step then.

Will be able to keep running (as soon as I fully recover from the angio procedure - which should be maybe by the end of the weekend); but, do need to keep the quality and quantity in check.

At any rate - in spite of it all - life is good.  Day to day lifestyle hasn't changed  and I don't have any limits there.  If I have to back off running a bit for my long term health - that's not the end of the world. 

Enjoy the upcoming holiday season everyone; and,

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

The Muddy Buzzard

Monday, November 22, 2010

Already Tired of Winter

Okay, so here it is ---- only the 2nd day of real snow for the year and it's 19 degrees out (balmy compared to the Billings and Great Falls areas) ----- and, I'm already feeling that this is going to be a long winter at The Lodge @ Bad Rock.

Funny how shoveling your loooooong, steeeeeeeep driveway for 3 hours does that to you.   But then, it couldn't be at all due to the fact that I only got 2/3 rds of the driveway done in that time.  Or the fact that by the time I got back to the house and the top of the driveway, the area I had originally shoveled already had 2 new inches on it.  Or the fact that the area I didn't get to has about 8 - 9 inches that I have to fight through.

Good thing I'm mostly in running on the treadmill or I'd be really pissy about this whole thing.

See you (with a grouchy look on my face) on the roads, tracks, trails and treadmills

The Muddy Buzzard

Friday, November 05, 2010

The Buzzard Flies Low For Awhile

Well, for about the last 18 months, performance levels have been less than what I would have liked.  Yeah, I've had a couple of decent runs.  2009 and 2010 Bloomsday's were okay.  As was the 2010 USATF XC Championships.  And, the 2010 MT Marathon 1/2 Marathon wasn't the worst day ever.

But, more often than not, my races were train wrecks.  Things typically were starting off bad and then went "downhill" from there.  The last couple of Montana Cups were prime examples.  No matter how comfortably I went out, I just fell apart within the first mile and fought like hell just to keep things moving forward.  73rd overall and 18th masters is just not the expectation that I have for myself.

For awhile, I thought it was a matter of getting back my fitness after being off due to my patellar fracture.  Then, there came a point where the fracture was fully healed and mileage was, more or less, at normal levels of 50 - 55 per week.  At that point, I thought that maybe I needed some tweaks to my training - maybe different mixes of VO2 Max versus Threshold versus Speed versus Endurance.  Then, I thought maybe it was more a matter of being a bit older and needing to cut back on quantity.  Finally, I got to the point of having tried a bit of everything; but, to no avail.  So finally, I bit the bullet and decided to go see my physician and see if there was something more going on.

Went to the doc, and got some blood work and a chest x-ray.  Blood work showed normal iron levels (so no anemia); but, did show a very low free T4.  What does that mean - hypothyroid.  So, he wanted me to get started on some synthetic thyroid to try to get that balance out.

The radiologist saw an enlarged heart (which didn't completely suprise me - I had seen that in some past tests and none of my prior physicians had suggested that this was a problem) and recommnended a stress echocardiogram.  And, that's where things got a bit interesting.

Most everything looked okay; but, it did point out a low Left Ventricular Ejection Fraction.  The EF is a measure of how much blood is pumped out of the left ventricle and into the body by way of the arterial network.  Typically 55% to 65% of the blood coming into the ventricle is ejected/pumpe out.  For me, the testing was suggesting somewhere between 35% and 50%.  So - that means that I was only pumping out about 60% to 80% of the normal range.

Turns out that not pumping out as much oxygenated blood as normal is not a good thing for high performance running.

So, what does this mean.  Well it's certainly not a good thing.  But, doesn't appear to be anything that's going to make me keel over tomorrow.  Looks like it's probably related to one of two things.  And, the other silver lining - at least it answers the question of why I've been running like a pile of dog poo over the last 18 months.

First, it could be a result of some arterial disease issues (i.e. plaque clogged arteries).  Not likely.  But, they have scheduled an angiogram to rule this out (or in). 

Second, it is more likely what is called a viral cardio myopathy.  Basically, some reduced function of the heart muscle as a result of a virus.  To treat this - they have put me on some heart meds.  One a beta blocker, the other an ACE Inhibitor.  Both serve to make it easier for the heart to pump blood.  The theory is that it will allow the heart to get stronger.

My cardiologist suggests that the vast majority of patients see improvement with the drug therapy.  Some have even returned to near nornal.  He does suggest that it's going to be a bit of a challenge to dial in my drug therapy due to the fact that my heart rate is already quite low and I have low blood pressure.  And, my existing level of fitness means that I'm not there normal patient type.

But, there is some hope.  Hope that I can get back to approaching my prior levels of performance.  Hope that this doesn't have a long term affect on my day to day life (it hasn't yet to this point).

So, for now - we'll just follow doctor's orders and see what comes next.  For now, he's told me to limit my miles and level of intensity.............code words for slow, short, easy jogging :-(  I'll start the drug therapy and get an angiogram on December 1st.  After that, we'll see what the next steps are.

But, rest assured, I continue to plan to.................

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

MT Cup Weekend 2010

Had a great time last weekend sandwiched around the Montana Cup.

Went over to Billings on Wednesday evening for some business at the home office of Sanderson Stewart on Thursday and Friday.  Friday night headed over to Kelly & Liz Fulton's to spend a couple of nights.  We started off the weekend with a couple of hearty brews at Carter's Brew Pub on Montana Ave.  That was the first time that I had been to Carter's; and, I'm hear to tell you - it's some of the finest brew that I've had...........................ever.  We finished off the night with a nice pasta topped with a pheasant burger meat sauce.  Liz rocks the kitchen!!!!!!

Up early the next morning and headed out to the Rocky Mountain College Equestrian Center NW of Billings on Highway 3.  It was a lot of un helping Alan King, Brad Coutant and the rest of the Rim Runners finish setting up the course and getting ready for the onslaught of runners.  And, did the runners ever come.  Some 214 men and women, boys and girls toed the starting lines.

First up were the women.  Using a strong push over the last half of the race, Sarah Graves of Billings took home the win over high schooler Dani Aragon (Billings) and master's stud Nicole Hunt (Butte/Deer Lodge).  Sarah's win came just a couple of weeks after a 2:55 marathon performance in Chicago.  Sarah continues to amaze me with her ability to run races at any time at any distance and always turn in top level performances.

The men's race was settled pretty early.  At the top of a climb right after 2K, Alan King put in a hard surge, opened some daylight and put the win to bed.  In the end, he had a 20 second win over Mike Wolfe and Dominic Smargiassi, both of Helena. 

It was a perfect day for cross country running.  Maybe in the '50's, some light clouds, little to no breeze, and dry.  The course was fantastic.  A few hills to make it a challenge, some footing that was sketchy and vistas that were limitless.  Alan King did a great job of setting out the course, making it so that no one was going to get lost and having accurate mile and kilometer marks.

The Yellowstone Rim Runners did a great job of hosting the event.  Packet pick up was seamless.  Results (courtesy of Becca King) were quick and accurate.  The awards were unique.  And, the amount of post race food was enough to leave everyone with a full belly.

For more on the results and a great race write up - check out  Ray Hunt did his usual great job of capturing the essence of the day's events.

As for me - the results were dismal.  But, see other posts for some reasons behind that whole train wreck.  But, I had a great time out on the ranch.  How could you not - watching the Helena bus pulling up and spitting out what seemed to be 1,000 folks in Blue.  Pat Judge and Ann Seifert do such an amazing job in getting the Helena running community behind the Cup.  Pretty easy decision to make Pat and Ann members of the Montana Cup Hall of Fame. 

Getting to see old friends is so great - folks like Dave Coppock, Jeff Thomas, Bob Boland, Jaque Maillet, Anders Brooker, Ray and Nicole Hunt, Big Bird Joidin, Eddie Walker, Brad Coutant, Brian Wieck, Dewey Peacock, Alan King, Kelly Fulton, Zach Hunter, etc., etc, etc. 

Watching some of the hottest competition of the year is great.  Coming one week after the State H.S. XC Championships - its a back to back smorgasbord of running over hill and dale.  Good times indeed.

After helping with some clean-up and a quck shower, it was off to the Yellowstone Valley Brewing Company's garage for some post event refreshements.  While there, some of the old Sunday Morning Run Club members had a couple of cold ones for old times sake.
Left to Right - The Muddy Buzzard, Dave Coppock, Alan King (aka The Champ) (wearing Gerry), Kelly Fulton, Zach Hunter

A couple of more brews at Carter's (man, they were as good on Satuday as they were on Friday night).  Then finished it off with some Mexi Food at Don Louis'.  Neeless to say - it was a loud and smelly night at the Fulton house.

Sunday morning, we hit the trails from Zimmerman Park and beyond Indian Cliffs.  It was great to be out with Kelly, Alan and Zach - it had been a long time since we had convened a service of the Church Of The Blue Dome.  It was a glorious day - calm and crisp.  Just right for an hour run with your pals.

Church members right after confession to Gerry

Monday found me back at work (and still in Billings).  But had a nice run with Michael Sanderson (who happens to be my boss) out at Riverfront Park.  Hadn't been out there in a couple of years.  We did the back loops on the east side of the park (they've made a bunch of improvements back in this section), then did a loop around Norm's Island.  We got out a bit late; but, the upside was that we were able to see a magnificant sunset and finished just as dusk was settling in.  It was cool and calm - the sun just setting ----- another great run.  It was amazing to be in Billings at the end of October and have so many days of warm weather with little to no wind.  Pretty spectacular conditions.

All in all, it was just a great weekend of malts and miles (beer and running :-) ) 

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gone Too Long

Hard to believe that it's been two months since I really last posted anything of note.  But, with the onset of summer came long days (and evenings) of working on the house.  Then XC season started and that meant practices, settting up schedules, meets, etc.

In the end, the last couple of months have been a whirlwind.  And, I just couldn't quite juggle all the balls - so, something had to give.  Although not happy about it, The Muddy Buzzard got the short end of the stick.

But, I expect that in the next couple of weeks I'm going to be able to find a bit more time to devote to getting back to my inane commentary on the sport we love.  The Buzzard enjoys putting pen to paper (or keystrokes to computer) and letting his thoughts flow.

Until then, thought at least one or two folks might be wondering if I'm still alive and kicking (yes and yes :-)  )

See you on the roads, tracks and trails; and, of course at MT Cup 2010 - Pain On The Prairie

The Muddy Buzzard

Monday, July 19, 2010

PDS and The Judge at BSSG

So, Peter Dan Sullivan (PDS) had a great run at the Montana Mile on Friday night with his 4:34.  Then, up early the next morning and hit the track for a hard 5,000. 

Just like they did a few years ago, PDS and Pat Judge teamed up to see what they could do about dragging each other to some fast times. And, once again, it was a successful strategy.

Both set new age group records.  PDS got 2nd overall and a new 45-49 record with his 16:27.4 (5:17 pace).  Patrick got a 3rd overall and a new 40-44 record at 16:35.1 (5:20 pace).

Great running guys.

See you ont he roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Not To Late For Naegeli Ranch Run

Still time to consider heading to the Thompson Falls area for the Naegeli Ranch Run next Saturday (July 24th).  It's a benefit for the Thompson Falls and Plains Cross Country teams and will be held on the Naegeli Ranch west of Thompson Falls.

This is a true trail run.  Jacob Naegeli has fashioned 3K and 8K courses righ throught the heart of the ranch.  It has forested sections, meadows filled with wildflowers, several creek crossings (one without a bridge :-0 ), cow paths and game trails.  The 8K has one tough, gnarly hill section.  He basically took his hand mower and has carved out 5+ miles of pathways.  It will be a course that you won't soon forget.

Check out for more info on the run.  Race time is 11:00, so plenty of time to head up to the race, get registered, run, check out the towns in the Clark Fork Valley and still make it home for a later supper.

Hope to see you there.

The Muddy Buzzard.

Big Sky State Games Notes

Patrick Casey pulls off another great performance at the Montana Mile.  He and John Ricardi (just having finished up at Idaho State) had a great race over about 1400 meters.  But, in about the last 200, Patrick put in the big finish and set a new raace record at 4:07.9.  This gave him a bit over 3 seconds at the finsh, with John hitting 2nd at 4:11.3.  Those are great times for both.  Over the last 2 or 3 years; these two athletes have taken the Montana Mile to a whole new level of times and competitive performance. 

John's performance comes after a long season of cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.  His outdoor track season alone included having to be on top of form all the way to June and the NCAA outdoor championships.  Amazing that he could still pull out a 4:11 when he's well beyond his competitive sharpness for the year.

And, Patrick is equally impressive.  After hitting a 4:04 mile this indoor season and getting 3rd at the NCAA indoor championships, Patrick reshirted his outdoor season to build some strength and get ready for a big XC season.  Well, the work is clearly paying off.  To hit a 4:07 in your off-season, with no recent competitions to get you sharp - it bodes well for what we'll see from Patrick in the upcoming year.  I dare say that he could be positioning himself quite well to be part of the NCAA middle distance elite over his next two years.

Another big time run came from super master Peter Dan Sullivan of Helena.  At 45, he hung right into the pack for a spectacular time of 4:34.3.  Just goes to show that you don't have to lose your leg speed when you get old and decrepit.  Way to go PDS.

Lois Ricardi Keller also put on a good show for the folks in the stands.  Winning by almost 100 meters, and figting off the effects of a pre-race hammy cramp, she set a new race record of 4:58.8.  Meanwhile, the Aragon sisters of Billings Senior and Nicole Reitz of Billings West continued their year long "rivalry" with Alexa running 5:17.2, Dani at 5:17.4 and Nicole at 5:17.7.

On the roads, Alan King fought through 97 degree heat on Friday evening to win the opening ceremonies 5K at 16:44.  He came back just 12 hours later (when it was already in the mid-70's at 7:00 a.m.) to win the 10K in a new race record of 33:10.

On the women's side, just one week after place 2nd at the Missoula Marathon (3:05 and change if I remember correctly), MSU-Billings' Lisa Minnehan pulled off a double of her own.  Winning the 5K in 19:15 , she came back yesterday morning to win th 1/2 marathon in a new course record of 1:30:25.

So, once again - Montana's athletes show great reliliency in the heat of Billings and turn in some great performances at the big sky state games.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Missoula Marathon

Year number 4, and the Missoula Marathon continues to be among the standard bearers for excellence in running events in Montana.  Having won the 2009 Runner's World Reader Survey as Best Overall Marathon in America, the event almost doubled in size this year - from 2300+ runners to about 4200.  In spite of the rapid rise in participants, the race still kept a great "hometown" feel.  Great energy, great excitement, great times.  Now - on to the Buzzard's thoughts from the race.

Great peformances in both the full and half marathon.

Meg Lerch with a new CR in the women's open half at 1:22:24.
Debbie Gibson with a new CR for the women's master's marathon at 3:15:26

All 4 open winners (men's and women's full and 1/2) from Missoula.
Men's and Women's Master's full marathon winners from Helena.
Great to have a race of this size and competitive level with a bunch of home grown talent.

Jimmy Grant continue's his hot running year with a 1:11:10 half marathon win (just one week after a 1:13:15 to win the Twin Cities Red, White and Boom 1/2).

The performances of the day however came on the men's side.  Both of these runs were impressive enough that they equal billing from the Buzzard.

Keifer Hahn wins his 3rd Missoula Marathon (and defends his 2009 title) in a new course record 2:30:37.  A 2:40 improvement on his record from last year and oh so close to the first sub-2:30 in Montana in over 20 years.  He went out hard (1:13:11 at the half), was never challenged and won by just under 11 minutes.  It was a great performance.

Equally impressive - Kyle Strode's 2:47:00 to win the master's race and place 4th overall and beats the master's record by 7:50.  Beats a great master's field that saw 6 guys under 3:00.  Kyle Litton (not sure of hometown)(2:49:07), Mike Telling of Dillon (2:50:43) and Scott Gaiser of Kalispell (2:54:20) were all under the old record as well.

I do have to aplogize to Kyle.  I had missed him when he first came in.  We were having some computer problems and he got "lost" in the crowd of 1/2 marathoners.  I saw Telling come in and assumed that he was the first master and gave him credit for the new record.  A few minutes later I saw Kyle in the finish area, he signed to me his time and it became clear that I had some back pedalling to do. 

Seeing the Higgins Bridge completely full with spectator's and runners for a couple of hours from about 1:30 into the race until about 4:00 into the race.

Seeing the crowd go ape shit as a big group of runners cranked over the bridge and just made it under the 4:00 barrier.

Trisha Miller wins the women's marathon at just over 3 hours (3:02:22) and blows kisses to the crowd as she crosses under the line.

Hearing the crowd noise when 83-year old Bob Hayes comes into the finish line.

Watching almost 1500 marathons head out in the early morning sunrise and fill the road for about 100 meters behind the start line as the UM ROTC cannon blast breaks the morning silence.

Getting a chance to hang out wit a bunch of runner's over the weekend and visiting with lots of friends at the expo on Saturday.

Working on a new personal tradition of marking the course late on Saturday night with Anders Brooker and his uncle Jay.

The excitement as Fran Gilday came across the line.  This was Fran's 50th state in which she finished a marathon.  A goal she first started working on in 1983.  She had a support crew of about a dozen folks, all dressed in red, coming over the bridge with her. 

There were just so many great stories during the course of the weekend - it really helps a guy to stay in love with the sport after spending a weekend like that.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Monday, June 28, 2010

Catching Up on the Wulfman

A bit behind on this; but, check out the results of the Wulfman CDT 14K Trail Race on the Butte's Piss & Moan Runners website.

Full results by overall, male, female, age groups and age graded (40+); plus, a race summary by the Muddy Buzzard himself.

The Piss & Moan Runners site is @

Also, check out the race's Facebook page @!/group.php?gid=214474434957&v=wall&ref=ts to check out some pix from the event.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Naegeli Ranch Run

Up here in the northwest part of the state - we're having a bit of a struggle to continue to have our schools support high school cross country.  Both the Plains and Thompson Falls programs are at risk of losing school funding and having to "self fund" in order to keep the sports alive.  We're not quite there yet; but, with the impending fiscal issues that will be coming out of the 2011 legislative sessions, we expect that we could be at the tipping point where we move from partial funding to self funding.

So, to try to be proactive and get our fundraising solidly in place, the Clark Fork Valley Running Club will be hosting a fun little trail race on the Naegeli Ranch outside of Thompson Falls.  Sarah Naegeli is the coach at Thompson Falls H.S. and her family will be opening up their property to any and all Trail Nerds.

Below is the information from the entry form.  So, if you're open that day, want to have some fun at a new race and help out the next generation of runners - head up on up Higway 200 and visit the Naegeli Ranch.  Put a smile on the Muddy Buzzard's face and help out some fellow harriers.

Here's Da Facts:


A Trail run located just outside of Thompson Falls, MT

3K and 5 mile Trail Run on Saturday, July 24

This race might include trees, logs, hay bales and creeks to cross, hills, forests, irrigation systems, cows, hay fields, and anything else you might imagine on a ranch!

Race Day registration starts at 9:45am RACE BEGINS AT 11:00 AM

Entry fee: $15 for 3K, $18 for 5 mile for entries received by July 17

$18 and $22 day of race registration

Entry fee includes unisex sized , t-shirt

Make checks out to Clark Fork Valley Running Club

Mail to: Carol Brooker PO Box 794 Plains, MT 59859

Or turn entry forms in to The Runner’s Edge, Missoula, MT


We are located 12 miles west of Thompson Falls, MT.

Travel north on Hwy 200 approximately 10 miles past Thompson Falls.

Turn left (west) on Big Beaver Creek (before the 40 mile marker).

Travel ¾ of a mile up Big Beaver Creek and turn left on Little Beaver Creek Road.

We are the first driveway on the right, approximately ½ mile up Little Beaver Creek.

Contact Sarah at or 827-4887, or Tony Banovich at or 672-6700 for more information

Many thanks to Runner’s Edge for sponsoring the race.
Proceeds to benefit Cross Country teams of Clark Fork Valley (Thompson Falls Bluehawks and Plains Horsemen)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wulman CDT 14K Preview

Wulfman 2K10 – Who To Watch

Another year of hot, hot racing is in store at the 3rd Annual Wulfman’s CDT 14K trail race. This 3rd edition of the race, to be run from Homestake to Pipestone in this even numbered year, looks to continue the same high level performances seen at the first two editions.

The women will have a new champion in 2010. The winner of the 2009 event (and course record holder for northbound route), Nicole Hunt will be focusing on her race director duties and leave the running to others this year - which makes the race up front wide open.

Early favorites would have to be Marta Fisher and Michelle Bazanella, both of Helena. M & M finished a strong 1-2 at the Don’t Fence Me In 30K Trail Race in Helena in early May and a 2nd and 3rd at the Big Butte 11K in April. Trail and endurance race specialists, they should both perform well at the high altitude and on the southbound trail climbs. A dark horse could be Maurie McLaughlin. Getting the win at the Wulfman Frigid Digger 7-miler in February, she’s looking take the honor’s in the Wulfman’s warm-weather race.

Master’s ace Debbie Gibson could also be a factor in the race for the title. With a 5th place in 2009 and top finishes at the 2010 Snow Joke and Run To The Pub ½ Marathons, Debbie looks ready for a top 3 finish.

Other women who look to make the elusive top 5 podium finish include Jennifer Burke and Laura West, together with a couple of teenagers in Rebekah Kirtley and Olivia Wood. All the women will be chasing the southbound course record set by Sarah Keller in the inaugural (2008) event of 1:10:36.

The men’s field looks to be deep, deep, deep – especially on the master’s side. Thomas Jodoin, the event’s one and only winner, will be back to try for the 3-peat (and to challenge his record time of 58:51). And, Thomas has been on a bit of role this year. With wins at the AOH 3-miler, the Vigilante Road Mile and the Don’t Fence Me In 12K, together with a 3rd at the Ice Breaker 5-mile, Thomas is looking sharp in the 2010 season. But, the converted middle distance track specialist will have his hands full. Keifer Hahn, the 2009 CDT runner up will return to give chase to Thomas. He doesn’t race a lot; but, his runner-up finish in the Riverbank Trifecta shows that - like always - when he races, he runs for the win. And, fresh off another stellar season at the University of Montana, Lynn Reynolds will look to improve on his 4th place finish in 2009.

A few of the other open men running to reach the podium include Matt Choquette, Colin Gaiser, Josh Panasuk, Adam Peterman, Ben Phipps, Doug Wadle, Brian Wieck and Dylan Zitzer. But, these youngsters will have to hold off some old guys as the top echelon of Montana master’s runners are coming to race along the great divide. In the first two editions of the event, master’s athletes took several of the top 10 spots; and, with this year’s group, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see up to half of the slots going to the 40+ crowd.

Two-time top 10 finisher Mike Telling (and masters champ in 2008 and 2009) will be back and will certainly have a start position at the front of the pack. Scott Gaiser and Jeff Braun have both have had a string of excellent performances dating back into 2009. Don’t overlook a couple of 50+ athletes in Kirk Keller and Mad-Dog Marvin Speece. And, mountain specialist Jeff Thomas is having his best season in the last several years and loves to run the hills and at altitude. Although both have fought a few injury issues the last couple of years, Ray Hunt and Tony Banovich are always a threat. Ken Newhall and Mark Slater will also be in the mix and ready to rumble.

With a sold out field, clear trail conditions and the hospitality of the Homestake Lodge, all the pieces are in place for an amazing mix of racing, camaraderie and a celebration of the Wulfman and the trail he loved.

Saturday, June 05, 2010


The last month has been a flury of activity. 

A big chunk of my time went towards remodeling our living room.  When we bought the place, only the back half of the main floor was finished.  The basement was completely unfinihsed - just open studs.  We've put in a bedroom and an entryway (although there is still a bit of finish work to be done; but, we do have functional spaces) in the basement and a laundary area. 

The primary living area on the main floor was finished with old, dark-dark, paneling.  Think 1970's basement type stuff.  It was on all the walls and the ceiling.  It was like living in a cave.  Well, we finally got things put together to get the room upgraded.  We had sheet rock put on the walls and toungue and groove pine on the ceiling.  I had contactors do the drywall and install the tongue and groove; but, I had to stain all the boards (some 140 of them), stain the boards for the window and door trim, install about half the door and window trim and install all of the base boards.  Also installed some new lighting fixtures.

It turned out great.  The room fits well with the existing finish work in the rest of the house; and, it brightened up the space so much.  With the high ceilings (19' at peak) and open beam structure, it really gives it the look of a light, open lodge type setting.  It's made a huge difference in the space.  We're super excited about seems like a whole new house.  Erin is very pleased that we finally jumped in and got the job done.

But, for most of May I was working from the time I was off work-work until somewhere between 9 - 11 at night.  And all of my open time on the weekends was spent on the house as well.

On top of that, we spent lots of Saturdays traveling to track meets to watch Zoe and the rest of the Plains kids.

And, last weekend (Memorial Day) we took an extra long weekend to take my parents out to the Seattle area to see my brother's new house. 

Needless to say - with all that going on I haven't really had the energy or time to get to the Buzzard.  But, over the next few days I intend to get caught up on what's been going on in our sport and some big things that are coming up.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mountain West At Oregon Twilight

4 of the Mountain West ladies made the trip to the land of Pre last weekend (May 9th) for the Oregon Twilight meet.

First up were Meg Lerch, Jennie Newton and Rye Palen in the women's 5K.  Long story short - it was a good day to be wearing the MW colors.

Meg Lerch gets the win with a stellar 16:42.04.  She is on a roll this seaon and looks poised to hit sub-16:30.  Jennie, getting oh so near to the masters ranks, runs a sub 18:00 with a 7th place 17:58.95.  And, in 8th was Rye - her 18:05.68 also well under 6:00 pace.

In the 1,500, Dianne Cummins continues to run fast. Her 4:17.25 (roughly a 4:35 mile) brought her home in a close 2nd place to Oregon's Nicole Blood. 

Way to go Mountain West ladies.

Bloomsday Pix

Courtesy of Ray Hunt

Jimmy Grant Looking Fit and Fast In His
Stylish Big Sky Distance Project Singlet

Yes, Nicole - it is okay to smile when
you're running fast and kicking ass!!!!

Look at the that old buzzard holding off
the young punk

(Okay, so - the young punk came back and got me at the finish. But, I made him hurt if he was going to get past me :-) )

Checking Out The Blooms With 50,000 Of My Closest Friends

Okay - so it's a bit late in coming; but, here's the Buzzard's report of Bloomsday (Sunday, May 2nd).

The weather was kind of sketchy in Spokane as we pulled into town on Saturday afternoon and arrived at the convention center to pick up our race packets.  Periods of heavy rain and gusty winds had me a bit nervous about what things would be like on race morning.  But, not too worry.  Conditions were extremely good as we woke up early Sunday.

Clear skies, cool (but not cold) temps and only mild breezes created the 49,000 + runners who made the annual pilgrimage to Don Kardong's festival of running.  Erin and Zoe headed to the start line a bit after 8:00 (we stayed at a motel within about 1K of the start); and, I followed at about 8:30.  It was a perfect warmup distance to the second seed corral; and, had time to hit the porta pottie and get in a few strides.

The only real mistake I made was settling in a bit too far back from the front of the second seed runners.  Once the gun went off, I probably was 3 to 4 seconds before hitting the start line, then had about 400 meters of very crowded street.  But, I really tried to focus on staying controlled and keeping the pace reasonable.  My training hadn't been going to well over the last month.  Felt flat, heavy, fatigued and uninspired.  Felt like a case of overtraining; but, whatever the case, didn't have really high expectations.

Earlier this year, I had hopes of running 42:30 to 43:30.  But, with how I had been feeling and running recently, I was thinking that 47 or 48 may be as good as I was going to see.  So, I was pleasently suprised when I hit the first mile at just under 6:00 pace.  Then, got into a bit of a groove and just kept hitting 6:00's.  Just barely over 6:10's for the miles that include sections of Doomsday hill. 

Ran pretty strong into the finish and was happy to be right about 45:00.  Turns out, ran exactly the same time as 2009 - 45:09.  So, while not the time goal I had set earlier this year; it, was a pleasant suprise given how I felt coming into the event.  Clearly though, I have a few things to work on over the summer.

In looking at pix and videos from my last couple of races, I see that my leg lift and stride length are pathetic.  My leg turnover and general leg speed are also woefully lacking.  And, I probably need to get some bloodwork done to make sure that I don't have some underlying physiological issues that are contributing.  But, I'm confident that I can get back on track and be ready for lat summer and the fall racing/XC season.

As to the rest of the Montana crew.  Here's a list of the top 25 Big Sky runners:

1. Jimmy Grant, 31, of Missoula, MT 0:39:20

2. Dewey Peacock, 30, of Bozeman, MT 0:42:21
3. Noah W Stout, 21, of Darby, MT 0:42:34
4. Ian C Blair, 38, of Billings, MT 0:43:34
5. Nicole B Hunt, 40, of Deer Lodge, MT 0:43:43
6. Jesse Q Carnes, 24, of Missoula, MT 0:43:52
7. Scott Gaiser, 47, of Kalispell, MT 0:43:53
8. Patrick T Murphy, 28, of St Ignatius, MT 0:44:23
9. Ted Burnham, 40, of Kalispell, MT 0:44:35
10. Doug Neil, 31, of Bozeman, MT 0:44:38
11. Jake Neil, 31, of Bozeman, MT 0:44:40
12. Ed Detzi, 43, of Bozeman, MT 0:44:52
13. Adam Peterman, 14, of Missoula, MT 0:44:57
14. Steve L Morley, 42, of Bigfork, MT 0:45:06
15. Tony Banovich, 47, of Plains, MT 0:45:09
16. Donald P Rosenleaf, 36, of Butte, MT 0:46:53
17. Brett J Larsen, 29, of Missoula, MT 0:46:54
18. Eddie P Mundall, 36, of Thompson Falls, MT 0:46:54
19. Mike D Jr Kallas, 25, of Butte, MT 0:47:07
20. Makena Morley, 13, of Bigfork, MT 0:47:22
21. Kal J Tucker, 22, of Bozeman, MT 0:47:24
22. Scott Stearns, 37, of Missoula, MT 0:47:39
23. Randy T Welch, 33, of Townsend, MT 0:48:03
24. Gary L Caton, 51, of Bozeman, MT 0:48:04
25. Mary K Thane, 46, of Missoula, MT 0:48:05

Some of the performances of note (from my pespective):  Tops has to be Nicole Hunt's run.  Competing with the elite women, she was 17th overall woman, 6th American and 1st master's women (she turned 40 just days before the race.).  Here 43:43 is a screaming fast time and placed her 5th amongst all Montanan's.  Kudo's to the new fastest old chick on the block.
Next up was Jimmy Grant of Missoula.  Continuing his string of solid performances dating back to early 2009, Jimmy repeated as the fastest Montanan.  His 39:20 got him 34th overall and was 3 minutes ahead of the next Big Sky athlete.
Dewey Peacock had a great run as the second Montanan and the only person besides Grant to break the 43:00 barrier.
Adam Peterman of Missoula, a Hellgate High freshman, took a break from his track season to pop off a sub 45 with his 44:57.  That strenght served him well as the next weekend he just missed the sub-10:00 3200 mark.  Not a bad "rookie" season.
Finally, there is a Makena Morley of Bigfork listed with a 47:22 time and an age of 13.  If that's all accurate, we may very well have our next Zoe Nelson.  Does anyone know anything more about this girl?  If so, let me know.
Well, there you have it - another year of Bloomsday behind us; and, I'm glad that we made the trip over.  Gave me a little shot in the ass and has inspired me to really commit to doing the little things that I need to do to get my times back down to be competitive with Ray, Kyle, Pat, Herring, Telling, et al.
See you on the roads, tracks and trails
The Muddy Buzzard

The Buzzard Took A Nap

Been away for a bit from posting.  First off, we got back from Bloomsday on Sunday evening.  I took off the next morning for a 4 day trip to Billings for work.  Got home late Thursday and spent Friday getting caught up at home and work.  Then off to Kalispell all day Saturday for the Archie Roe track meet.

On top of everthing else, we have been remodeling our living room.  When we bough the house, the living room walls and celing were "finished" in ugly, dark brown paneling.  '70's basement rec room flashbacks every day.  It was dark and really detracted from the rest of the house.

So, we finally undertook getting it upgraded.  We had someone come in to do sheetrock on the walls; and, hired someone to do tongue and groove pine on the ceiling and pine board trim around the doors and windows.  In order to stay ahead of the contractors, I was using all of my free time to stain boards, trim out electrical devices and do general clean-up and dust control.

We're getting close to being done; but, still have to stain and install boards for wall base and trim around a closet and some upper windows.  And, need to put up a "built in" book case that goes from floor to the 12' ceiling.  It's been a lot of work and has really killed my "free time"; but, man, it really looks great.  Will post some before and after photos when we get it all done.

But, now I'm back and ready for some posting on the last couple of weekends.

The Muddy Buzzard

Thursday, April 29, 2010

We'll See Some Things Bloomin' This Weekend

Bloomsday coming up this weekend.  Not sure who all from Montana will be present; but, you can be sure that there will be some good representation from Big Sky Country.

The Buzzard was hoping to have a good first weekend in May.  But, not so sure that I'll be pulling it off.

Had a good early spring of training.  But, by about mid March was starting to feel flat.  And, it hasn't gotten any better.  Almost feels like a bit of overtraining.  Flat, some lingering fatigue, no snap.  Didn't really thingk that I was doing that much in the way of mileage or quality.  But, apparently, it was enough to allow me to cross onto the bad side of that proverbial line.

But, we'll give it a go anyway.  Hey, us runners are always like the Bon Jovi song - "Livin' on a prayer".  Who knows - life can be funny.  Even when you think that you're about to run like the big ole doggy doo, you pull off the flyer (and vice versa).  So, we'll go, run hard, have fun and enjoy the spectacle of Bloomsday.

For those of you who are also heading to Spokane - best of luck.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Big Weekend In The Big Sky

As expected, the racing was hot this weekend.

Saturday saw the 38th running of the Riverbank Run in Missoula.  Even though the weather turned windy later in the day, the morning saw some real nice racing conditions.  At the time of the 10K (9:00 a.m.), the temps were in the mid-40's with little to no wind.  And, it really didn't start to get ugly until noonish.  By that time the races were all done and complete. 

First out of the gate was the 10K, with Jimmy Grant toeing the line to see if he could defend his 2009 title.  And, with a solid 31:44 time, he got the win and a continuation of his stellar 2010 season.  It was a tough win with a slew of solid times coming in behind.  2nd was UM assistant coach Phil Keller with his 31:53; and, another 10 seconds back was Kiefer Hahn in 32:03.  The top 5 were rounded out by Mike Wolfe of Helena in 32:42, then Joseph Peelgrino ( a new UM grad student) in 33:23.  Courtesty of Ray Hunt, here's the lead pack of the 10K.

Phil with glasses, Kiefer in white, Wolfe in Grey, Jimmy with hat, Pellegrino in red

Top men master was Brent Ruby (42) of Missoula.  His 34:38 placed him 6th overall.  2nd master was Scott Gaiser at 35:40 (9th overall) and 3rd was Jeff Braun - 10th overall at 36:03.

The first woman was Jenny Newton, with her 38:30, giving her a 75 second win over Katherine Aune of Missoula.  First master's woman was Mary Pat Ostger of Stevinsville at 43:44.

Then came the 5K (and the 2nd leg of the race's trifecta - where athletes run the 10K, 5K and mile and the lowest combined time is the winner); and, like the 10K, the lead was dominated by the trifectors (hey - that's a great made up scrabble word isn't it :-) ).  Here Pellegrino got the better of the 10K boys with a stellar 15:09 allowing him to break the tape.

Pellegrino leading Keller and Kiefer into the 5K finish

Next in was Phil Keller at 15:13, Kiefer at 15:15, Quentin Decker at 15:25, then Collin Fehr at 15:29 and Mike Wolfe at 15:42.  7th overall and 1st master was Antoine Cuervo of Whitefish in 15:05. 

Meg Lerch was the women's winner and was unchallenged with her 16:27 for 11th - missing out on a top 10 finish by only 2 seconds.

Then comes the last bit of pain for the trifecta folks.  The mile - after 9.3 miles of hot running you then have to put the hammer down, keep the lactic acid at bay and let the lungs burn.  And; boy, did they burn it up.

Clearly, it was hot and fast right from the start and stayed that way to the end.  Pellegrino picked up his second win of the day with his 4:44.  Right on his heels were Kiefer Hahn at 4:45 and Phil Keller at 4:46.  Mike Wolfe rounded out the sub-5:00's with his 4:58.

In the end, Keller got the trifecta win with a combined tme of 51:52.  Then Kiefer at 52:02, Pellegrino in 53:15 and Wolfe at 53:20.  The women's winner was Jeenifer Sauer with a 68:24 combined time.

Great day in River City.

A day later was the Ice Breaker Road Race festival in Great Falls.  More of the big guns were on hand, with a head to head match up of Alan King and Thomas Jodoin.  And, they didn't disappoint in the marquee 5-mile event.

With Bernard Langat (the requisite Kenyan getting the win in just under 25:00), Alan pulled off a 2nd place overall with a 25:39.  Jodoin got the 3rd overall (both of them beating the other "ringer") at 26:21.  Although some heavy rain affected the race, it didn't seem to slow the boys at all.  Kyle Strode of Helena kept his hot 2010 year going, taking the masters win at 28:22.

The Kenyan women took the top 2 spots; but, then came Nicole Hunt at 29:33 (15th overall) and Dani Shahan in 30:01 (16th overall).  I believe that this was Nicole's last run as a sub-master - she'll be a 40 plusser come Bloomsday.  For this event - Laurie Detzi was the women's master champ.

At the 3-mile distance - Moses Leavens got the win at 15:44, with jared Reyes (of UGF) in 2nd at 16:06.  3rd overall, and 1st masters was Antoine Cuervo (coming back a day after his 7th overall/1st master run at the Riverbank Run) in 16:25.  Of note on the masters side was 50-year old Charlie Lucero - 8th overall - in 17:42.

The women's winner (and 1st master as well) was Kathie Perrins in 18:56.  Another 50+ athlete had a big day - multiple 3-mile winner in past years Suzie Kaluza of Butte was 3rd overall today in 19:42.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Talk About Tough

Okay, so one of you runs the fastest ever American time at the Boston Marathon (2:08:41).  Another runs within 15 seconds of his PR (2:09:26).  And what did those efforts get Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezghi??????
How about no better than 4th and 5th place. 

That's what happens when the winner runs a course record 2:05:52 (Robert Cheruyiot of Kenya) and second place runs 2:07:23 (Tekeste Kebede of Ethiopia).  Then, the third place guy (who ran in the lead until the last 4 kilometers) "blows up" and still holds on for third in 2:08:39.

But, that's what happens when the world of elite marathoning has reached a new benchmark for excellence.  2:07 is basically the new lower threshold for elite performance.  And, you pretty much have to be ready to run 2:05 or 2:06 to be even think about winning a major marathon. 

It's a far different world than it even was just 5 years ago.

On the upside, the American men seem to be getting closer.  We now have guys "in the mix" at some of the big marathons.  We have Hall and Meb in the top 5 at Boston, and Jason Lemkuhle pulled off a 9th to give us 3 in the top 10. 

But, they're going to have to get in a whole different mid-set to be ready to take it to the next level and be prepared to hit 2:06 or 2:076 everytime that they toe the line.  5:00 pace (2:10 effort) isn't going to cut it any longer.  They're going to have to adopt a bit of the Kenyan philosophy where you go for broke.  You very well may crash and burn; but, you may also flame brilliantly, hit a flyer and have a performance for the ages.

I remain hopeful that we're making the progress we need to and that the young guns like Hall, Ritzheneheim, Rupp, Tegenkamp, Fernandez and others are going to be solid competitors on the world stage and set the tone for the up and coming generation of American distance runners.

The Muddy Buzzard

A Win For Mountain West

Diane Cummins pulled off a big win at the Mt. Sac Relays on Saturday.  Running in the elite/invitational section of the 800 meters, Diane won the event in a stellar time of 2:03.25.  Considering that 2:00 is the line of excellence in the international world, Diane is basically there during an early season meet.  Great start to the year for Diane.  And, kudos to the Mountain West Track Club of Missoula being represented by Diane in the 800 and 1500 meters, as well as Meg Lerch in the 5,000 meters.

Great work ladies.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Beantown on Monday

The Boston Marathon is Monday and there's a number of ways to see the action.

Universal Sports will be broadcasting the race on the web.  Connect to the action at 

There will be real time web coverage at and

And, of course - lots of information (including web coverage) at the Boston Athletic Association site @ 

The BAA's athlete tracking isn't quite as user-friendly as some other races:  But, if you know someone who is racing and are willing to spend a couple of minutes on the website, you can get their numbers and track their performances through the race at multiple check points.

It will be exciting to see if Meb Keflezghi or Ryan Hall can finally break the domination of the East African's and bring the laurel wreath back to the US.

The Muddy Buzzard

MT Sac

Pretty decent Thursday and Friday for Montanan's at Mt. Sac.

Thursday - Steepelchases:

Men Olympic Development Division
     John Ricardi - Idaho State (Gardiner) - 8:52.80 6th out of 20 (6/20)
     Matt Adams - Montana State - 9:01.44 (9/20)

University/Open Division -
     Zach Nordahl - Air Force (Rapalje) - 9:17.70 (13/18)

Women Invitational -  Lois Ricardi Keller - Unattached (Idaho State)(Gardiner) - 10:16.50 (6/18)
    That time meets the "B" standard for the 2010 national championhsips and is only 4.5 seconds off the A standard.  So, it's very likely that we'll see Lois lining up with the big girls at nationals this summer.  Way to go Lois!!!!!

Friday -

1,500 Women's Olympic Development
     Heather Haug - Montana State (Livingston) - 4:26.48 (13/18)

1,500 University/Open - both the Ricardi's came back from their Steeples in the 1,500
     John Ricardi - 3:49.68 - 18th out of 94 (combined from multiple heats)
     Lois Ricardi Keller - 4:30.62  (12/86)

Women's University/Open 5,000 meters
     Meg Lerch - Missoula/Mountain West TC - 16:43.94 (16/31)

Women's Invitational 1,500 meters
     Diane Cummins - Missoula/Mountain West TC - 4:12.81  (3/9)

Great job to one and all.  Specail shout out to Lois and her meeting the national qualifying B standard.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Here's What's A Comin'

Fair amount of stuff going on this weekend - mostly on the track.

The road racing scene is a bit quieter this weekend.  There's the Jenni Kramer 5K in Billings, the Summit Classic in Kalispell and the Superfund Runs & The Bust a Gut events in Missoula.  Great community events; but, not the super intense up front races.  That comes next weekend with the Riverbank Run in Missoula, the Ice Breaker in Great Falls and the Peaks To Prairie in Billings.  Those will be some of the first races of the year that really tell where people stack up against one another.

For this weekend though - most of the college teams will be in Missoula for the Montana Open:  including UM, Great Falls, MSU-Billings and Rocky. 

The MSU thinclads will be heading south and running at Mt. Sac and Long Beach.

Also at Mt. Sac will be Megan Lerch of Missoula in the elite field for the women's 5,000.  Go Meg.

We're starting to get into the HS track season now.  No real eye opening performances yet; but, it's awful early in the season.  By the end of this month should start to see what kids are going to be the ones to beat by the state meets at the end of May.

Good luck to everyone who's competing this weekend.  Run Fast, Run Hard, Run Happy.

The Muddy Buzzard.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Check out the MSU meet results from today at

One of the highlights was Alan King's 32:02 10,000.  If we was in college, he would have qualified for the Big Sky Conference Championhsips.  By lapping the field, it was pretty much a solo effort.  Great run for Alan.

The Muddy Buzzard

The Buzzard Catches Up

Catching up on a few race updates.

Great performance by Kyle Strode last month in S.F. at the Across The Bay 12K.  Finishing 47th overall, 4th in the 45-49 and 4th overall master - he sped to a 41:57 finish.  At 12K, that's a 5:37 pace (that's 3:28 per K for Ray and his ilk :-) )

At the March Meltdown 10K in Polson on 3/13 - Matt Shyrock led the way in 32:56.  Triathlete Lindsey Corbin (who won this morning's Grizzly Triathlon) was 2nd overall and 1st female in 37:16.  She was followed by master's champ Ted Burnham in 38:06.

At the Buttercup Run 5K in Arlee on April 3rd - Forrest Lumpry won in 17:26.  Missoula's Jenny Newton matched Corbin's March Meltdown effort and pulled off a 2nd place overall finish with her 18:40.  Kevin Plumage was 3rd overall and 1st master with his 19:09. 

Master's Men ruled the day at the Big Butte Run.  The only sub-40 man to crack the top 6 was Dewey Peacock. Outside of that, old guys kicked a little runner booty.  Led by Mike Telling at 44:07, the top 6 were rounded out by Pat Judge (44:11), Dewey in 44:59, Ray Hunt in 45:58, Jeff Braun in 47:12 and Marvin Speece (first over 50) in 47:52.  On a blustery, chilly day - it was a back and forth race at the front with Dewey and Pat trading the lead for 8K to 9K.  But, Mike Telling got on his horse on the run into the finish, caught Pat on the last hill and pulled out the win (see a great write up at the Butte's Piss and Moan Runners web site). 

On the women's side, Nicole Hunt (with only a few weeks left until she hits the masters ranks) won handily with her 50:05 effort.  She was followed by Mara Fisher in 52:55, Michele Bazzanella in 53:20 and ultra great Nikki Kimball in 54:00.

Some great racing on both sides of the gender divide.

In the 5K, Suzie Kaluza won for the gazillionth time.  Crossing into the 50+ age group hasn't slowed her down.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Casey & Ricardi Interviews

Check out these interviews with Patrick Casey & John Ricardi.

The Muddy Buzzard

Another Anniversary Come and Gone

So - two years ago was the day that the Lady Fate came up and bitch slapped me on April Fools Day.  Actually, it was more like a Mafia Don taking a tire iron to my kneecap.  Now, two years after a fractured patella, and all is mostly well.

Things have turned out quite well.  The knee seems to have healed fully.  I don't have any limitations on my mobility or day to day life activities.  And, I'm running normal mileage at normal effort.  In fact, my workout today include a segment of tempo pace, as well as a series of hill repeats on steep, gnarly hill.

I do appreciate evryday that goes by that I'm able to be out there on the roads enjoying the sport that has given me so much. 

Needless to say, yesterday was a good day.

Happy to say that I'll see you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Odds And Ends

A few notes from some races on the national and international stage this past weekend.

Friday night was the distance carnival at the Stanford Invitational.  Two of the Ricardi siblings hit the track for the steeplechase, with good results.  Lois (now running as an unattached married woman) was 7th in the top section with her 10:29.28 time.  Little brother John (now wrapping up his time at Idaho State) was 9th (also in the top section) with a stellar 8:55.96.  Great to see him under 9:00.

David McNeil of NAU (who won the 3,000 at the Big Sky indoor meet and who won the 5,000 at NCAA's) won the 5,000 with is 13:25.63.  Jessica Pixler of Seattle Pacific (Division II in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference - same conference as MSU-Billlings) won the women's 5,000 with a solid 15:44.07.  My reason for bringing up these two is to demonstrate the level of competition that kids can have by staying close to home and running for the in-state DI, DII and NAIA schools. 

On the international scene, Shalane Flanagan led the US women to a bronze medal podium finish at the World Cross County championships.  For those of you who made it to Spokane in February, these were the very same American women that you saw at the front of the pack at that race.  To get more info on the World XC results, check out or

The Muddy Buzzard

A Good Morning Full Of Hurt

Happened to be at Fairmont this weekend.  Called Ray and Nicole to say hi - and the first words out of Nicole's mouth was "hey, we're doing a workout tomorrow - wanna come?"  Well, couldn't pass up a chance to run a few miles with Nicole, Jeff Braun, Michelle Bazanella and Marvin Speece now could I?

So, showed up this morning at the designated spot on a dirt road East of Opportunity.  Ray and Marv had shuttled some vehicles so that we had the wind at our backs.  The road was soft dirt and gravel and everyone was bright and cheery.  We started off at a nice, easy pace with easy banter and all seemed good in the running world.

Then, I made the mistake of asking:  so, Nicole.  What is the workout plan for today?  So, the words coming out of her mouth:  30:00 warm-up, then 5 times:  1 mile at 10K pace, 1:00 rest, 400 at 5K pace, 3:00 rest, then cool down to Racetrack.  Probably about 13 to 14 miles total.  Now, those were the words that came from her mouth; but, all that I could hear were the words of Clubber Lange in Rocky III.  "My prediction.............................PAIN."

And Clubber was right.  I felt like Rocky in the first fight - taking shot after shot to the ribs and kidneys.  By round 3, I was in some pain.  In fact, was thinking that backing off was starting to sound like a good idea.  But, then - I remembered a post I made a while ago.  The general essence of that post was that I had, more or less, forgotten how to go to the well and make it hurt.  That had been something that had come about after missing an extended period of time when I fractured my patella a little less than 2 years ago.  That's when I realized that it was time to "cowboy up".  What better time than the present to start reversing the trend and to start making pain my friend once again.

So, I went to my personall happy place and settled into a rythm and buckled down to the business of the last 2 repeat sets.  And, yeah - it hurt.  But, it was great.  Pounding out a hard workout was a great way to spend a Sunday morning.  And, doing it with a great bunch of folks made it even better.  The topping on the cake was when I held up through the workout and pushed through even when it would have been easy to back off and drop off the pace.

As an added bonus, go to see first hand how hard the Continental Divide crew actually trains.  No wonder why they do so well at MT Cup.  And, seeing Nicole in action is always a treat.  Just a bit under a month from her move up into the master's crowd and she is going to se the 40+ crowd on fire.  She appears to be in great shape and I see her doing some big things this year at races like Bloomsday, the mountain running circuit, etc. 

So, thanks to the Pissers and Moaners for hosting me for a great Sunday morning.

See the rest of you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Sunday, March 21, 2010

King Keeps Krankin'

As most of you probably know, Alan King is the head cross country and distance track coach at Rocky Mountain College in Billings.  Rocky is an NAIA school - and, in NAIA, they have a marathon as part of their national championships in outdoor track.

The kids can qualify by meeting standards in the full marathon or a half marathon.  To help the kids in the Montana colleges meet the standard, Alan has hosted 2 qualifying races at the 1/2-marathon distance.  They use a modified version of the Montana Marathon 1/2 course.  They had the first race in mid-January; and, a second version was held this morning. 

At the first event (billed as the Battlin' Bear Half Marthon), Shane Donaldson of Univeristy of Great Falls (1:15:37) and Noah Kirpono of Rocky (1:16:29) both met the men's "B" standard of 1:16:40.  On the women's side, Amber Watson of Rocky got an automatic qualifier with her 1:25:49 ("A" std = 1:33:00).

This morning, Rocky held the RMC Spring Half Marathon and a couple of more runners got their qualifiers.  On the men's side, Noah Kiprono lowered his January time and go the auto qualifier with his 1:12:43.  Cullen Cantwell of UGF also got the auto qualifier with a 73:58 time (auto qualifier on the men's side = 1:14:00).  For the women, Christina Bruce o UGF got a "B" time of 1:35:06.

But, the big news of the day was coach King.  Taking advantage of a some nice tailwinds over the last half of the course, he set a 2:00 PR with his 67:28 performance.  This come on the heels of his 69+ run at the Montana Marathon 1/2 in September, his 69+ 1/2 at Houston in January and a sub-16:00 solo 5K just a week ago.  The mileage gods must have smiled on him to repay him for the efforts of providing opportunities for the states NAIA kids to qualify for nationals.  Whatever the case, Alan has established himself as the man to beat in Montana this spring. 

The Buzzard is looking forward to the first time this year that Alan, Jimmy Grant and/or Thomas Joidon get the chance to race each other.  Should make for some smoking good times.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring Has Sprung and All Is Quite

So, here we sit on the first day of Spring.  The sun is just rising over the hills to the east of Plains, the buttercups are in bloom and it has all the appearances that it's going to be a nice day.  May even have to hit the trails a little bit on my run today.

The only down side is that the air is pretty smokey from all the open burning that is going on.  One of the unique things about living in the rural forest areas is learning a little bit different cycle of life.  You have the tree cutting season - trees cut for lumber or firewood and the limbs & branches all get piled into nice big slash piles.  Then, in the fall and spring - you burn them up.  And, in the spring, you also get the farmers and ranchers buring the old dead grass along fence lines and irrigation ditches. 

Even though the smoke is sometimes a bit of an irriatant (I have to admint to being thankful that I don't have any asthma type problems), burning a slash pile is also a bit of fun.  I generally have 2 to 3 piles a year on my place (mostly from firewood debris, fallen limbs, dead trees, scrap wood from home projects, etc.) that I have to take care of.  Maybe it's just the kid in me; but, I still get a kick out of lighting up what is, essentially, a giant bonfire.

Which brings me to a bit of a digression and a happy old memory.  Back in the day, the annual Butte Central - Butte High Football game always kicked off the new school year.  One of the traditions at Central was the bonfire the night before the game.  It used to be held behind Tech at what is now the HPER parking lot.  The cross country team would make torches out of wood and diesel soaked rags.  We would run them down the hill around the football field, circle the big old pile of wood, then toss the torches into the pile to light it up.  It was a great time - nothing says fun like little pieces of burning cloth dropping onto your arms and legs as you run downhill towards a screaming frenzy of high schoolers.

At any rate - back to the present.  After last weeks state wide rush of St. Paddy's Day runs - everyone seems to need a week of rest.  Really not much going on this week.  The Wheat of Montana Run in Missoula and the Handicap Run in Bozeman.  At least one, small local fun run in Missoula also (being done as a senior class project by one of Anders Brooker's Hellgate HS runners - Ashley Mix).  But, that's about it.  No big, super serious competitions.  And, there's only a handful of events next weekend also.

But, then April comes about and things start to heat up.  More of the bigger road races start to pop up regularly on the calendar.  And, the HS and College track teams get into full swing.  So, enjoy the quite while you can.  Because, before you know it, the wild and crazy days of spring, summer and fall are going to be here and we'll be awash in events and activities.

So, for this weekend, I plan to enjoy the buttercups, get out in the sunshine a bit, do a few household chores and maybe even catch a little bit of March madness.  But, after that, I'll................................................

See you on the Roads, Tracks and Trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Runnin' O' The Green

Since it's actually St. Patricks Day, seeme dlike a good time to do a recap of last weekends St. Paddy's Day races.

With the weekend, the Muddy Buzzards big 3 of 2009 have now all got their first races of 2010 out of the way.  You'll recall that Jimmy Grant won the Snow Joke 1/2 Marathon the last weekend of February in a solid 1:12:51.

The next winner was Thomas "Big Bird" Jodoin of Helena.  He made the short trip to Anaconda for the annual AOH Locker Room Bar St. Patrick's Races.  With a new course "record", he handily won the 3-mile race in 14:07.  With a net downhill course and a good tailwind (this year wind gusts of 15 - 20 mph were present) you have all the elements in place for a screaming race.  And Thomas took full advantage of it.

Ray Hunt was 2nd overall and 1st Master with a solid 15:13.  He was followed by Josh Panasuk (Butte HS) in 15:35, Brian Wieck in 15:39 and Mad Dog Speece in 15:59 (2nd Master and 1st ever 50+ runner to be sub-16:00 at this event).

On the women's side, Nicole Hunt had a stellar start to the year with her 15:50 (also a new course record).  With her time, she was also 5th overall.  For someone nearing the master's category, there is no sign of her slowing down.

In the 6-mile race, 52-year old Ray Matteson won overall in 35:16.  40+ runner Craig Kenworthy was 2nd in 35:48, followed by Butte's Ozzie Rosenleaf in 35:57.  Good day for the old guy set.

For full results, check out

Over in Billings, Alan King kicked off his Montana campaign.  (He had started his year in Houston in January with a 1:09 1/2 marathon.)  At the annual Shamrock Run, he had a very solid 15:54 for the 5K distance.  Having run this same course many times during my 16 years in Billings, I can attest to the fact that a sub-16 time on this course is a very solid run.  Steven Kosnar was the master's winner in 17:50, good for 7th overall.

In Missoula, Justin Yates won the inaugural Run for the Luck of it 5K.  On a breezy day, he put together a 17:00 time for the overall win. First master's was Tony Banovich in 18:21, good for 3rd overall.

Have not yet seen results for Run For the Pub in Bozeman or the races in Polson, Great Falls, and Helena.  If you know of where I can find those results, let me know.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard

Friday, March 12, 2010

McNeil does Big Sky Proud

Just watched the men's 5,000 meters at the NCAA Indoors.

David McNeil of Northern Arizona had a thrilling duel with Sam Chelanga of Liberty. Chelanga beat McNeil at last falls XC championships. But, today, McNeil got his revenge with a strong last 200 meters and beat out Chelanga, running 13:36.41 to 13:37.01.

For those of you who were at the Big Sky Conference Champs in Bozeman a couple of weeks ago, you'll recall McNeil (an Australian native) winning the 3,000 meters and just getting outkicked by MSU's Patrick Casey in the mile.

With McNeil winning the 5000 and Casey qualifying for the mile finals, it was a good day for the Big Sky Conference.


Casey Qualifies at NCAA

For those of you who haven't already seen it, Patrick Casey of MSU has made the finals of the mile at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships (being held at the University of Arkansas).
Running in the 2nd of two heats, Casey finished 4th in the heat in 4:05.72 to make the final (top 4 in each of the two heats, plus the next 2 fastest times qualified). It was a super close heat. The winner ran 4:05.53, with 6th in 4:05.91 (that makes 6 guys within .48 seconds of each other).
The final will be tomorrow at 5:15 p.m. our time. The NCAA has some live webcasting going on. Check out this site:
The NCAA championships website (with live results - which at this point don't seem to be working properly) is located at

Good luck to Patrick. He has been getting some love on the message boards and is considered one of the dark horses to be among the front runners. With his racing instincts and the speed that he has shown this year, it's not out of the question that he could be in the running for the title. And, as a sub-plot - can he get the 2nd sub-4:00 mile by a native Montanan.

Tune into the NCAA sites tomorrow to check it out.


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Drobek Gets Vertical

This last weekend, 1,555 firefighters from around the world descended on Seattle to compete in the annual Firefighter Stairclimb.  The event runs up the 69 flights of stairs in the Columbia Center (Seattle's tallest building) and is a fund raiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. 

Out of all of those firefighters - Andy Drobek (frsh off his 1:17:37 1/2-Marathon at the Snow Joke) (and a member of the City of Missoula Fire Dept.) finished second overall.

This is no cake walk.  The competitors wear 50 pounds of gear (including breathing apparatus) and climb 788 vertical feet in the 69 sets of stairs.  It's got to be a gut-busting, puke inducing effort to finish at the front of the pack.

Congrats to Andy.

The Muddy Buzzard

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Some Highlights of the Last Week

A couple of highlight items for the last week.  Last Saturday (2/28/10) was the 31st Annual Snow Joke 1/2 Marathon in Seeley Lake.  In some less than typical winter weather, it sounded like it was a pretty pleasant day for a run around the lake.  Work has it that pretty much all of the course was in good condition and that most of the back side of the lake was pretty clear.

On the men's side, it was the Muddy Buzzard's 2009 runner of the year Jimmy Grant with a fast February 1/2 getting the win in 1:12:51.  That gave him almost 2 full minutes over runner up Mike Wolfe's 1:14:39.  Next in was Joel Pellegrino in 1:16:11.

In a close race for 4th and 5th between Kyle Strode and Andrew Drobek.  With only 7 seconds separating the two at the finish, Kyle got the 4th place overall finish (1:17:30 to 1:17:37) to top off his overall master's win.  A pretty solid range considering that Kyle ran a 4:48.98 mile (4th place at the Montana Men's Master's Mile) just 2 weeks prior.  Kyle is definately setting himself up for a great 2010 season.

On the women's side, Trisha Miller set a new women's course record with her 1:24:59 for a 5:25 win over Darr Trucknott.  On the master's side, there was a close race for the top 3.  Debby Gibson prevailed in 1:37:30, with Julie Gilchrist in second at 1:38:47 and Mary Dean in 3rd at 1:38:57.  Pretty impressive running across the boards on the women's side.

A week after their standout performances at the Big Sky Conference Championships, Nick Atwood and Patrick Casey of MSU headed east to the Alex Wilson Invitational at Notre Dame this past Saturday (3/6/10).  Atwood just missed the provisonal qualifying standard for the NCAA indoor championships at the 3,000 meters event.  Finishing 4th overall, he ran at fantasitc 8:05.60 (missing the standard by less than 1 second).

Patrick Casey continued his amazing season winning the mile.  He got the win; but, missed the magic mark of the sub-4:00 mile (remember that I don't buy into the altitude adjusted nonsense).  Yet, he was oh so close.  Running 4:00.19, he led a pack of 4 under the 4:01 mark.  It also got him another mark under the provisional qualifying standard.  Will it be enough to get him into the NCAA meet?  Let's hope so.  With the season he's having, combined with his racing savvy - anything is possible once the gun is fired.

On the bigger picture - there seems to be very little doubt that he'll be the 2nd person on the native Montanan sub-4:00 list.  (Joining the ice breaker Scotty McGowan his own self.)  It's pretty much a matter of when (passing right over the if).

Coming up this next weekend is a busy one on the racing scene.  With St. Pat's races in Anaconda (the grand master of the St. Pat's day races), Missoula, Polson, Billings, Bozeman and Great Falls (at a minimum) - there's more than ample opportunity to get your racing season started this weekend.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails (wearin' the green no doubt)

The Muddy O'Buzzard

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Houston - We Have Lift Off

In an unprecedented move, USATF awarded a joint men's and women's Olympic marathon trials to a single event.  On January 14th, the marathon trials will be held in Houston as part of the Houston Marathon weekend.  It will be a great way for Houston to celbrate the 40th anniversary of their signature event.

After a few down years of the event around 2000, the event has really rebounded in the last couple of years with some 2:07 winning times and the 1/2 marathon has had some super fast times as well.

Never before have the men's and women's trilas been held in the same location.  Houston did host the women's trials for the 1992 Olympics.  But, from a running perspective, that seems like a lifetime ago.

For more info on the announcement, see the USATF release at

or the announcement at

There are also a couple of stories about the reactions of Boston and New York (the other prime bidders) (and the hosts of the 2008 trials races for women and men) at

Some interesting insight into what happens at the top end to get the big tickets events like the olympic trials.

The Muddy Buzzard

The Mighty Casey Rolls On

The Big Sky Conference championship meet took place this last weekend in Bozeman.  The indoor track at Brick Breeden fieldhouse hosted the best of the Big Sky - and, from a distance perspective this meant Patrick Casey versus David McNeil.  Casey, the super sophomore from Montana State (Laurel High School grad) has been on fire this indoor season (not that his frosh and soph XC or frosh track seasons were all that bad).  McNeil, a senior from Northern Arizona (and Australian native) finished second overall in the 2009 NCAA Division I cross country championships.

Casey had gotten second in the 800 in an NCAA provisional qualifier and (I believe) a new personal best of 1:49.97 (missing the title by an oh so close 0.03 seconds)

McNeil took the 3,000 title in an NCAA provisional qualifier in 8:11.93.  Pretty fast time, especially at the Bozeman altitude.  He had a confortable separation of about 10 seconds on the second place finisher (teammate Ahmed Osman).

The two studs then met in the at between distance of 1-mile.  After sitting comfortably in the pack for the first 1,000 meters, Casey went to the lead with about 600 meters left.  McNeil came pushing up to Casey's shoulder; but, with a 54 second last 400, Patrick wasn't going to be denied.  His 4:09.92 was a stellar tme and his 3rd sub 4:10 indoor mile of the season.  He beat out McNeil (4:10.14) and NAU's Jordan Chipangama (4:10.75)(who had beaten out Casey in the 800).

To see a video of the mile, check out this you tube vid:

A few other highlights from the meet:

Brooke Andrus of MSU (Bigfork) placed second in the 800 and Chloe Palakovich of Idaho State (Whitehall) placed 6th.

Heather Haug of MSU won the women's mile, with Kara Dewalt (UM) getting second (both are Montana natives).

Getting 8th and 9th in the mile were Montana natives and ISU students Zac Barrett and John Ricardi.

Katrina Drennen of UM won the women's 3,000 in a stellar time of 9:47.

Ricardi also came back to get 11th in the 3,000 meters.

Full results can be found at

Pretty solid performances by the Montana kids.  The home grown crop rose to the top of the top of the talent pool and showed that they can compete against some of the best of the kids from around the country.

Congrats to all the kids who competed and good luck to those who may be fortunate enought to qualify for the big show at the NCAA indoor championships.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spokane and Geriatric Set Redux

Okay - so finally have found some time to get to the last race of the USATF XC Championships Recap - that being the Old Man's Run (aka Mens's Master's 8K).

First, a little recap of the conditions.  The course was at the Plantes Ferry Sports Stadium in Spokane Valley.  It's a big regional park with baseball and soccer fields.  It is an all grass surface that is in pretty good condition.  Not quite a golf course; but, not much different.  It's mostly flat, with a couple of short bumps/hills at about the 1K point on each of the loops.

Friday day was wet and drizzly.  No wind, mild temps - would have been a great day for a race.  But, we were a bit nervous about how sloppy the course would be with the steady rain.

Race day dawned clear and clam with very mild temps.  Even for the first races, the temps were in the low to mid 40's and there was just a mild breeze (it picked up off and on; but, never really was strong enough to be a significant factor during th race).  Amazingly, after such a short time, the rain had no real effect on the course conditions.  The grass was mostly firm; and, only a few very short soggy spots.  As with the temps and the wind, the course conditions weren't going to be a factor in the race.

Okay - now onto the race itself.  The field wasn't as big or as deep as it has been at some past master's races; but, was stll a reasonably solid race itself.  Some of the top finishers included guys like Tracey Lokken (champion), Mike Blackmore, Darren DeRueck, Andy Ames, and Danny Salazar.

For me, the race went pretty solidly.  I ran pretty consistent loops (the course was series of 2 kilometer loops) of 7:30 to 7:40 per segment.  I got out pretty comfortably; but, made a classic mistake and didn't cover a pack break up at about 1,500 meters.  As a result, I was in no man's land for the last 4 miles of the race.  I picked up a few guys - but the bigger pack of guys that I probably should have been with were well out of reach.

In the end, I had a respectable performance of 29:42 for 8K (just under 6:00 pace) and got 25th ovearll and 10th in the 45-49 age group.  It was right about where I had thought I could be in the race; but, still about 1 minute off where I was in 2007 and where I would like to get back to.

Jeff Thomas had a great race.  For a guy who has battled some tough injuries and illness - he came through like a trooper.  With a 30:44 time, he finished 33rd overall and 24th in the 40-49 age group.  It was great to see him back in the saddle and riding hard again.