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