Thursday, December 12, 2013

Finishing Off The Year With A Bang

The potential exists for some big performances by past and present Big Sky athletes.

On Saturday in Bend, Oregon will be the USATF Club Championships. 

On the men's side, Gardiner native John Ricardi will be competing as part of the Club Northwest team.  John's an accomplished runner - a grad of Idaho State and having competed in the 2012 Olympic Trials in the steeple chase.

For the women, there will be 4 women from Missoula taking part as members of the Mountain West Track Club.  In the master's women 6K, a team comprised of Courtney Babcock, Jenny Newton and Janicka Umile will be running to try to get on the podium.

In the open women's race, Megan Brooker will be representing the Big Sky.  This will be Meg's first national caliber event since undergoing treatment earlier this year for a brain tumor.  Hard to believe that she's come this far back since early summer; and, am excited to see how Saturday turns out for her.

The biggest race of the day may very well be the final HS race of the season.  Makena Morley of Bigfork will be competing at the Foot Locker National Championships.  Morley has only had one loss this year - that was at the NXN Northwest Regional meet.  At NXN she was beat by just 9 seconds by Alexa Efraimson - who went on to win NXN nationals last weekend.  Morley had a convincing win at Foot Locker West Regionals, won the MT Cup and had the fastest ever girls time at the MT High School XC championships in October. 

Good luck to all competing this weekend - we'll be watching proudly.

See you on the Roads, Tracks and Trails.

The Muddy Buzzard

Fast, Fast, Fast @ CIM

A big performance by one of our own at last weekend's California International Marathon from Folsom to Sacramento, California.

Heather Lieberg of Helena had an incredible race.  Moving up throughout the run, she finished as the 8th woman in 2:39:55.  That's right - a sub-2:40 marathon.  Very, very impressive.  Outside of Debbie Raunig in her heyday (mid-80's) and Julie Brown (late 70's to mid 80's), I'm not sure that any other Montana woman has run a sub-2:40.  This time qualifies her for the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon.  Way to go Heather.

Alan King of Billings also went to CIM.  He hit his first half at just under 1:12 (right on 2:24 to 2:25 goal pace).  But, he was hit with some cramping; and, ultimately he was pulled from the course due to hypothermia.  Tough day for Alan; but, he's clearly due to hit that fast marathon that he has inside of him.

The Muddy Buzzard

Late Season Racing Roundup

Some big happenings for Montana runners in late November and early December.

First up were the college cross country nationals:

At the Division 1 level, Heather Demorest led the way.  The MSU Senior and Darby HS alum finished 58th in the women's 6K race @ 20:56.6 - less than 1 minute behind the overall champion.

On the men's side, University of Colorado freshman (and 2013 Kalispell Flathead grad) Zach Perrin was the #6 man for the National Champion Buffalo squad.  Pretty elite company to be a true freshman, run in the national championships and be part of the championship team.

At the DII level, Chris Jessop represented the Big Sky.  A sophomore from Corvallis and a member of the University of Mary Squad (which is coached by Billings Skyview grad Dennis Newell), Jessop finished in 141st place, in 32:41 over the 10K course.

The biggest number of Montana competitors came at the NAIA level.  Alan King's Rocky Mountain men's squad finished 25th our of 32 scoring teams in the men's race.

The only male individual competing was Sancho Ridesatthedoor.  A senior from Carroll College (and Missoula Hellgate alum), he finished 54th overall in 25:31 for the 8K even.

For the women - the big performance of the day came from Leah Esposito.  A Helena High grad and Carroll College freshman, Leah ran 18:05 for 5K - good enough for 7th place out of 319 individual finishers.  Fantastic race for Leah!!!!!!

Also competing at the NAIA race on the women's side were Anna Richer (Senior, Rocky Mountain College, Billings Skyview HS); Nicole Brist (Sophomore, University of Great Falls, Whitefish HS); and, Megan Breeding (Senior, Rocky Mountain College, Idaho HS).

On the weekend of December 7th, the Nike Cross Country Nationals were held in Portland.  The Bozeman Girls team was invited to attend and had a very solid 10th place overall finish.

The only MT individual to qualify was Christina Aragon of Billings (Senior).  The AA XC champ, she had the best performance of all the MT girls, finishing  28th overall against some of the strongest High School XC competition in the country.

All in all, it was some great representation by Montanan's at the college and high school levels.  Doing the Big Sky Proud.

See you on the Roads, Tracks and Trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Thursday, November 07, 2013

NYC 26.2

For a variety of reasons, I hadn't done a marathon since Boston, 2004.  And, after my cardiomyopathy diagnosis in 2010, wasn't sure that I would be able to do another.  But, in the last year the effects of the cardiomyopathy seemed to stabilize and I seemed to be more comfortable in my running.  So, I figured, what the heck - let's try one more.  And, why not do it big - why not New York City!!  I qualified for guaranteed entry by time with a 1:26:40 1/2-Marathon in Austin, TX in January. Then, right around 4th of July weekend, marathon training started.

I had some good training last spring and felt fairly good about where my running was at.  So, for predicted pace in my marathon entry, I listed right around 7:00 pace (3:03:03 predicted time).  But, as my training started to unfold during the summer, I started to feel as though sub-3:00 was realistic.

I really had a great training cycle.  In the past I had followed a pretty traditional program for my marathon training; but, for both the 1/2 in Austin and NYC (and after doing a bit of research and reading) I decided to follow the concepts espoused by the Brooks-Hanson's program.  I made a few adjustments for my age and cardiomyopathy; and, settled into more of a 14-day program that looked something like this.  Sunday, week 1 = Long Run (max long run was 20 miles).  Wednesdays = longer intervals.  Started with with shorter, faster early in the training (600's, 800's, ladders @ 6:00 pace), then as the training progressed, moved into longer stuff (3 X 2miles, 2 X 3 miles, etc. @ 6:25 to 6:30 pace).  Sunday, week 2 = Longer Run (12 to 14 miles) with last miles at Marathon pace (started with 6 @ MP, and got up to the last 10 miles of these runs at MP - pace was typically in the 6:45 to 6:50 range).  Outside of that, it was mostly easy miles - with my weekly miles at 60 to 70 over the last 8 weeks of training.  At least twice a week I also included some core and/or strength work; and, did some pretty regular stretching and dynamic flexibility exercises.

There were only a couple of minor hiccups in the training.  Early in, my right achilles flared up a bit during some interval sessions when I was wearing the shoes I intended to race in (Brooks Pure Connect - which I used in the 1/2 in Austin).  (Needless to say, I bailed on those shoes and looked for different options.)  Although the achilles was tender off and on, it never really caused me any issues for the rest of my training.  I had a bit of tenderness in the outside of my left foot over the last month; but, that seemed to be a soft tissue issue and never really affected my training, form, footplant, etc.  Finally, about 2 weeks out I came down with a bit of a cold.  Not severe; and, the only really impact it had was that I skipped a short, minor workout on the Tuesday of race week.  But, by race day, the cold was pretty much gone and didn't seem to affect my running at all by that point.

All in all, training went great.  All my key workouts feel into place, I was at racing weight and feeling lean and strong.  My diet had been very good; I had slept well; and, quite frankly, felt the best that I have for the last 3 or 4 years.  All signs were good to go for sub-3:00.

Race morning came awfully early for a race with a 9:40 a.m. start - was up at 4:00 to get in a bit of food.  Then a walk of 4 or 5 blocks to the Public Library to get the bus to the start at around 5:15.  Was in the start village by about 5:45 a.m.  I have to say - logistics were smooth.  Easy on and off the bus, check in at Fort Wadsworth was smooth (although a bit intimidating to see the sheer amount of law enforcement presence), and the start villages were really well set up.  Found a quite place in a big tent to curl up and laid down for a bit.

Even with the sheer volume of people, it was reasonably orderly and calm getting to the start line.  It was more just trying to keep the nerves in check with long waits.  They call you into the corral for the 1st Wave at 8:20.  Then you hang out until 8:55.  Then they move you to the start until 9:40.  Meanwhile, you have the wheelchair and handcycle start, plus the elite women starting before you.  So, really have to work to keep from getting too wound up before the howitzer fires at 9:40.  I kept pretty calm and did a good job of staying warm.

Coming into NYC at the end of the week, the weather was great.  Mild and mostly calm.  Race day - not so much.  Cool (about 45 at the start, about 49 @ finish) and breezy (with a wind that was mostly out of the north, which meant a headwind for most of the race) with winds of 10 to 15 miles per hour in lots of sections of the course.  And, the first 2 miles on the Verrazano Narrows bridge were super windy.  It's a quite section with no crowd; and, the most significant noise you could hear was everyone's numbers flapping and snapping in the wind.

I went a bit too easy in the first mile.  It's a solid uphill on the bridge; and, I really wanted to be sure to not charge out too hard right off the line.  But, imagine my surprise when I hit only 8:15!!!  Freaked out a bit; but, realized that better to be 1:00 slow than a minute fast at that point.  And, coming down the back side of the bridge I hit a super controlled and comfy 6:45 and new that I would come back to pace.

And, over the next 12 miles, that's exactly what I did.  I settled into a decent rhythm of 6:40's and 6:50's for the most part.  And, felt controlled - on the surface, right where I wanted to be.  But, pretty early on, my right achilles started to flare up.  By 9 is was pretty noticeable; and, my right calf was starting to make a few noises of it's own.

I had decided to race in a pair of Mizuno Wave Sayanora's.  Have been training in the Brook's Pure Cadence for the last year; and, while I love the shoes, wanted something just a bit more streamlined for racing.  Plus, the Sayanora's have a bit more heel lift than the Cadence's - which I figured would be good since 1) I traditionally beat the crap out of my calves during marathons and 2) was hoping to minimize any pressure on the right achilles.  Guess that didn't work out so good....

I had worn the shoes on 4 or 5 shorter runs, a 10 mile easy run, and a 14-miler with the last 7 at tempo pace.  The shoe definitely felt different than the Cadence; but, really gave me no problems of note.  I also wore them to travel in to the race and walked around in them a bit in the days leading up to the marathon.  Had gotten to where they really felt pretty comfy on my feet and I had no red flags go up to suggest that I shouldn't use them on race day.

I hit halfway at 1:31 (6:56 pace) - maybe a bit slower than I had hoped; but, right within the realm of still being okay.  Cardiovascularly I felt great.  The effort was easy and I felt full of running and ready to attack the 2nd half of the race.....................except for the legs.  By this point my achilles was screaming and my calf was tight as well.  Which was leading me to alter my stride a bit, which was causing some discomfort in the ball of my left foot.  All of which was starting to affect my rythm and form.

The wheels really started to come off at about 15.  At that point you're climbing up the Queensborough Bridge.  It's a long, significant climb; but, I was ready for it.  Several of my long runs had been on courses that had good, solid hills in the last half of the runs - specifically to get ready for the last half of NYC.  I fought the uphill a bit; but, where things were really telling was on the downhill side of the bridge.  I just could not open up my stride.  My achilles wouldn't let me drive off the right foot; and, the form issues were now causing my right hip flexor (piriformis) to get really tight.  Here I was coming into the part of the course that should have allowed me to fly (net downhill until 20, huge numbers of spectators on 1st Avenue, the finish into Central Park) and my right leg was saying No, No, No....Not Today.

I still hit some 7:10 to 7:15's until 19, then things go really tight.  Just no real leg drive left at all.  It wasn't a fueling issue - felt great there.  It was purely biomechanics.  20 and 21 were really bad - hit 7:58 and 7:43.  But, then, I realized that it wasn't getting any worse; and, decided to try to do what I could to finish things off in a semi-positive way.  For the rest of the way, pretty much hit in the 7:20's (with the exception of a long uphill section in mile 24 on 5th Avenue along Central Park @ 7:40).  Hit the finish with a net time of 3:08:08 - so a 1:37 2nd half.  Not bad; and, considering the leg issues, happy that I didn't completely fall apart.  But, it was definitely not what I had wanted.

Really felt okay in the LONG walk through the chutes to get my gear and connect up with Erin.  Legs a bit sore; but, actually better than most of my marathons.  Was doing pretty good until found Erin and stopped for 15 or 20 minutes to change into warm clothes and visit for a bit.  We then had about a mile walk back to the hotel and that's where things got tough.  The hip flexor tightened up and I had a hell of a time walking.  But, we made it back to the room; and, once I warmed up the leg felt good and we did a bit of sightseeing that afternoon (Empire State Building, Times Square, Dinner and Beer).

We walked about 7 miles the next day (from Ground Zero at the south tip of Manhattan all the way back to Central Park) and felt pretty good.  The hip flexor was still a bit sore; and, the right achilles is a bit beat up.  But, the quads and calves are fine; and, those are usually the muscle groups that kill me after a marathon.    And, was actually able to do a couple of miles by Tuesday and Wednesday - very slowly.  Hip is fine; but, achilles is still pretty sore.  Really taking it easy; but, expect that all is going to be okay within a week or so.

So, what's the takeaway.  Very disappointed with the time.  Really felt good about my training and know that I was in sub-3:00 shape.  The wind was a bit tough; but, I drafted when necessary and I would say that it had less than a minute of impact on my race.  The course is definitely hilly.  It is definitely a challenging course.  Much more of a challenge than Cleveland, Twin Cities and Boston.  But, I was ready for that as well.

In the end, I think it was just a poor shoe choice.  Should have just stuck with my training shoes - they were plenty light enough and would have been just fine.  But, I guess the old 20/20 Hindsight thing huh???????

Not sure what's next.  I have a cardiologist appointment in 2 weeks and we'll see how things look with the old ticker.  Will have to see if it's prudent to make one more crack at a sub-3:00; or, do I need to hold things back a bit from here on out.  I have to say, I really enjoyed the training and the preparation.  It felt a bit like old times - putting in the miles and hammering some workouts.  And, like I said - it's probably the best that I've felt all in all over the last several years.  I don't know.  We'll get through the end of the year and then think a bit about what to do.

But, I'm definitely glad that I did the race.  It was a great experience.  As a fan of the sport I've watched and followed this race for over 30 years; and, it was finally great to participate in one of the great marathons of the world.  Even with 50,000 runners, they did a great job with the race logistics.  The crowds along the course were amazing - the energy in Brooklyn and Manhattan was beyond description.  And, Erin and I had a great time in NYC.  What a great overall experience - to see the sights and sounds of this metropolis was incredible.  It was a worthwhile journey and I'm so glad I did it.  Yes, sub-3:00 would have been fantastic; but, some days it works, some days it doesn't.  I'm still happy to hit sub-3:10 with a less than perfect heart and a drug regimen that makes me a far different runner than the "old days".  And, was still the first Montanan to finish - hey, sometimes you just have to take the little victories.

Thanks to my wife for putting up with me during the 16 weeks of serious training - the early bed-times, the weekend long runs, the obsession with keeping my weight down.  She's my rock and she makes it all possible to allow me to fuel this passion.  And, thanks to "my kids" - the Plains HS XC team.  They provide a great training group for my easy days and give me somewhere else to focus some of my running energy and keep me from obsessing too much about my own racing.

See You On The Roads, Tracks and Trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Good Times

Yes, I do realize that I’m a lucky man.  I have a great job where my employer treats me with respect and as a valued member of the team.  I get to be involved with some very cool projects that (I hope) make for better communities.

I have a great family that has provided much fulfillment in my life.  I don’t always let them know as much as I should how much they mean to me.  Life would be pretty dark and empty without them.  My wife Erin has put up with me for almost 30 years now.  She’s an amazing woman who has supported me in my many wild and weird running adventures.  She’s a smart, kind and caring person who has been the binding force for our wonderful family. 

My kids are incredible.  Son Nick has made his way as a great mind in the world of science – he’s now working on his doctorate in Human Genetics at Univ. of Chicago – that great mind is something else that he got from his mother.  He’s brought a great wife (Katie) into our family.  And, now he’s bringing us our 1st grand-baby – a little bundle of pink!!!!!  My “little man” has put a smile on my face so many times.

My little Zoe-Boe……………..what a great young woman.  2 years of college completed – all at the highest level of academic performance.  Good summer job at Ted’s Montana Grill.  Great group of friends.  All that a father could hope for.

And, what a great, wide, wonderful circle of friends that I have – many, if not most, who have come to me through my running pursuits.  Especially those from my time in Billings and more recently in my Plains/Missoula/NW Montana endeavors.  But also from my time in Kansas and the Coachella Valley (Palm Springs area).  They’ve all enriched my life immensely.

And, over the last few years I’ve picked up a whole new set of gifts for my memory basket.  And, that comes from my time coaching the Plains High School Track and Cross Country Teams.  What a pleasure that has been.  I was fortunate to be able to spend some time with a college program when I was living in Billings and was able to work with Dave Coppock’s XC program at MSU-Billings.  And, I made some great relationships during from time – Sam Hartpence, Ronn Smith, Chelsea (Lyness) Dana and Tiffany (Piplica) Hartpence.

But, they were more like training partners.  It wasn’t my team and they weren’t “my kids”.  Over the last several years I’ve had the honor of working with a great group of kids at PHS.  Carter, Demon, Fishy, Bubba, Kimmy, Swazz, Biebs, Paco, Frodo, Carley Q, Timmy & Tommy, Francesca, Nikki, Big Money Ben, Kelsey, Princess, Hailey, Corle, Caleb, McLovin’, Double D, Danny and more.  They keep me on my toes and sometimes test my patience.  But, in the end, it’s all worth it – watching them grow as athletes, students and young adults. 

When I got into coaching at the high school level, I went into it with the simplistic view of thinking I was just going to help keep programs moving forward and share some of my knowledge of and passion for the sport.  Little did I know how vested I would become in this rowdy band of hormone crazed teenagers.  Yes, it really is like having an entire second set of children; and, I truly have come to think of them as “my kids”.

So, imagine the thrill of seeing the girl’s team take home the Class B State Track & Field Championship.  They dominated the competition and brought home the schools’ first ever T&F title.  It was a great weekend and I was tickled pink for the girls, the coaches, parents and families.  One of the best experiences that I have had in the sport.

Yes indeed, I am a lucky man.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Wulfman Gets Wet!!!!!

The 6th Annual Wulfman’s CDT-14K Trail Race is in the books; and, once again Butte’s Piss & Moan Runners put on an exceptional event.  This year saw saw the 3rd running of the northbound direction between Pipestone and Homestake Passes.  With the combination of altitude, hills and semi-technical terrain, the course is no cake-walk; but, course records and personal observation would suggest that it’s still a bit faster than the southbound direction.  And, in the 2011 northbound edition of this course, ideal weather conditions saw some screaming fast times.

But, Mother Nature decided to play a little trick on the field this year.  Conditions at the start seemed good - cool (around 6° C) and dry with a very mild breeze.  But, about 10 to 15 minutes into the race and the first drops began to fall.  By 20 minutes it was full-out miserable.  The course wound up into the clouds and then the skies dropped a consistent mixture of rain, grapple and sleet.  The rain didn’t relent; and, in the end, it was reminiscent of the crazy wetness at the 2009 edition.  The course got a bit sloppy, the wetness lent a chill to the air, and the race times slowed accordingly.

However, being a single track trail all the way – the race start has to be adjusted to accommodate the 240-person field.  Based on predicted times and consideration by the race director (Ray Hunt), the runners are seeded to go out on the course in 10-second intervals.  With the faster runner’s going out first, this allows all of the runner’s great access to the trail with very little needs for passing or other potential conflicts.

On the men’s side, Jimmy Grant of Missoula (as defending champion) was first out of the gate and it was pretty much game over within the first 3 to 4 kilometers.  After hitting the uphill switchbacks after 3K, Jimmy reported that the course behind him seemed clear and he was truly in a time trial situation.  He seemed to be on 4:00 per kilometer pace through about 6K; but, reported that he was a bit sluggish during the wet middle section.  He got back on track over the last 4K; but, by then the hope of the magic sub-56:00 was gone.  In the end, he had to settle for a win over 2 minutes+ with a time of 56:47 – which is still the #4 time for the S-N course. 

With wins already this year in the 11-Miles to Paradise and the Pengelly Double Dip, Jimmy showed that he’s got trail skills to match his road chops.  He reports that he’s been spending quite a bit of trail training time with the Missoula ultra-trail group of Mike Wolfe, Mike Foote, Chris Kollar and Jason Schlarb – and, it’s really improved his off-road abilities.  His big goal for the year – the Bridger Ridge Run.   With the way that he’s been performing this year, it will be very exciting to see how he does on one of Montana’s most challenging and historic trail races.

Having run every edition of this race, Butte native Josh Panasuk has some unmatched knowledge of the trail.  And, having now moved on to college at MSU-Billings, he’s also gained some newfound running skills and strength.  He put all of this skill, endurance and knowledge to use today as he pulled off 2nd place overall – for his first podium and sub-1 hour finish.   The next position went to someone else with some good history at this race – Dillon’s Mike Telling.  Heading the over-40 crew and almost all the rest of the field, Mike had a great race with his 60:56. 

A surprise, late entrant (taking advantage of a Thursday night cancellation), Casey Jermyn showed that he can still motor along.  An alum of Montana State University and a Big Sky Conference champion in track and cross-country – Casey secured the 4th spot with his 1:01:57.  Ever so close behind Casey was another over-40 athlete – Jeff Braun of Butte.  Doing his best to stay in contact with Mike Telling, Jeff got pulled along to a solid 1:01:58 to round out the overall top 5.

The women’s race saw some excitement and some drama.  Defending champion and course record holder Nicole Hunt was the first woman to hit the trail.  And, early on she looked like she was ready to hit it as hard as ever.  But, unbeknownst to most everyone else, Nicole has a nagging calf injury that had recently caused her to take 2-weeks off from running.  At about 15:00 into the run, she could feel it tightening; and, by mid-race she knew it was serious.  But, she gutted it out and hoped that her time at the finish was enough to hold on for the win.

Recent Anaconda High School graduate Olivia Wood started exactly 3:00 behind Nicole – so, she had no idea of Nicole’s struggles with the calf.  Now, Olivia has run this event every year save the inaugural edition.  So, she’s no stranger as to what the course is going to throw at her.  Pushing through the rain, she showed that she’s ready to take on the collegiate level as she enters Carroll College this fall as part of the Fighting Saints XC and Track teams.  She also showed why she was an All-State track and XC runner for the Copperheads; because, in the end, her elapsed time was 6 seconds faster than Nicole – 68:34 to 68:40.  And, that gave the win to Olivia.

3rd place went to former MSU-Billings standout Lisa Minnehan at 73:09.  And, the top 5 was rounded out by Bailey Roberts of Bozeman in 73:25 and Livingston’s Becky Stieb Speidel in 74:04. 

The over-40 categories were focused this year on the age-graded competition; and, solid competition it was.  For the women, Nicole took the Master’s overall and Age-Graded titles.  At 43, her 68:40 gun time converted to 64:48.  Both were new northbound course records; and, resulted in a $75 bonus for the sub-65:00 age-graded premium time.  Taking 2nd in the A-G results was 69-year old Anne Trygstad of Bozeman.  Finishing in 98:25 (for 17th women’s master), her A-G conversion brought her down to 65:42 – a fantastic effort.  The rest of the top 5 A-G went to Lori Buratto of Spokane (42) with an A-G time of 71:08; Dillon’s Betty Iverson (55) in 73:15; and, Kelli Sullivan of Butte (55) in 74:46.

For the men – Jeff Braun and Mike Telling swapped their positions from the overall and the men’s master race.  With his 61:58 gun time, Braun at 49 saw an A-G conversion all the way down to 54:54.  That missed Scott Creel’s mind-boggling 2011 record of 51:23; but, was till quick enough to score a $75 premium bonus.  Meanwhile, Telling’s (44) 60:56 converted to 56:12.  Suddenly, Jeff is thinking that those extra 5-years of chronological age ain’t all bad J  The rest of the A-G top 5 went to:  Kyle Klickir of Phillipsburg (56) in 57:27; Three Fork’s Kirk Keller (54) in 58:13; and, Ray Hunt of Deer Lodge (47) in 58:25.  In all, there were 7 men who had age-graded times of under 1:00 – a shining example of the strength of the master’s runners at this event.

The wet weather and chilly weather tried to put a damper on the event; but, the runner’s would have none of that.  Eating some great, healthy food at the post-race spread (hosted by the spectacular Homestake Lodge) and enjoying some fine beverages courtesy of Quarry Brewing, the runners had a great celebration of the summer solstice.  With great organization, a great trail, fantastic awards and a top-notch post race picnic – it’s no wonder that this is becoming a “must do” event on the Montana racing circuit.  And, no wonder that the event’s 240 slots were filled by mid-February this year!!!!!  And, in spite of the weather conditions - the race had an all time record number of finishers with 223 - WOOP, WOOP!!

As I’ve said before, John “The Wulfman” Wulf would have been pleased to see all his people having such a great time out along the backbone of the continent.

A full complement of race results (cumulative, male, female, age group, age graded, etc.) can be found at  A good selection of race comments (and photos coming soon) can be found on the Wulfman’s CDT 14K Trail Race Facebook page.  Make sure to check them out.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Monday, June 17, 2013

6th Annual Wulfman's CDT-14K Trail Race

We're just a few days away from the annual homage to John "The Wulfman" Wulf; worshiping of the summer solstice; and, the pain, agony and all-around-good-time of a hard run.  That's right, the Wulfman CDT-14K Trail Race is right around the corner.  And, by all accounts, it's shaping up to be another amazing event.

This will be the 3rd running of the Pipestone to Homestake route (remember that the trail is run from Homestake to Pipestone in even numbered years); and, the race filled it's 240 slots in mid-February!  A great testament to the fantastic event that's put on by the Butte Piss & Moan Runners; and, the great post-race event as hosted by the fine folks at Homestake Lodge.

Bear with me a minute while I first recognize the fine sponsors of this event.  Due to their contributions of cash, goods, services and support, you get:  A first class, well-organized trail race.  A fantastic post race celebration with great friendship, food, and beverages.  Unique awards.  And, most importantly, race proceeds that put money back into the creation and care of this amazing portion of the Continental Divide Trail.  Thank you to:  Butte Pathology, St. James Healthcare, Dan Harrington, DDS, Speed Endurance Coaching, Brooks, Marathon Machine Works, Metals Sports Bar & Grill, Montana Broom & Brush, Water & Environmental Technologies, Great Harvest Bread, Hennessy Market, Back Country Horsemen, Anderson Zurmuehlen, Food Services of America, Circle K, Triple Ring Productions, Quarry Brewing, Harlow's Bus Sales, Trail Runner Magazine; and, Asten Center Therapeutic Massage.  Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.

Okay - now onto the race preview - starting with the guys.  Defending champion Jimmy  Grant of Missoula returns to try to tame the trail for the 2nd year in a row.  Having run 55:05 on the South-to-North course in 2011, Jimmy will be taking aim at Lynn Reynold's course record of 54:30.  And, he's shown himself to be in fine form this year with wins at the Riverbank Run 10K, 11-Miles To Paradise trail race and the Pengelly Double Dip trail race.  Add in a 2:29 marathon PR from last fall and Jimmy would seem to be ready to take on the role of race favorite.

In the role of suprising uderdog may have to be Forrest Lewton.  A Caldwell (i.e. the east side of the Greater Whitehall Urban Area) native and current Whitehall resident, Forrest had an outstanding collegiate career at Azusa Pacific University.  He's raced on and off in Montana over the last several years, including a stint or two at the Montana Cup.  Assuming that he's fit, Forrest could shake things up a bit.

Thomas "Big Bird" Jodoin of Helena returns to the Wulfman - a site of some his best running over the lat 5 years.  Big Bird won the first two editions of the event; and, since then has finished 2nd, 3rd and 3rd.  He seems to be taking a bit of a sand-bagger approach this year - he's predicted a fairly moderate (for him) finish time.   But, once he hits the line, I wouldn't be surprised to see him right at the front of the pack by the finish line.

Speaking of sand-baggers.....................the master himself will be back.  Race co-creator and co-director Ray Hunt of Deer Lodge will once again set aside his race duties for an hour and hammer away on the CDT.  Looking to improve on his 5th place overall finish (and 1st Master & 1st Age-Graded Male) in 2012, Ray has already been working on his trail skills with a top 5 finish at the 11-Miles To Paradise event.  Ray has been known to run himself sick at this event; and, if he's feeling good on race day, don't be surprised to see him taking aim at Scott Creel's master's record of 57:32 (and age graded record of 51:23).

A few others to keep watch for:  Rumor has it that Clint Choquette's (Butte native) fitness is questionable; but, if he races and is feeling good, he should be in contention.  [UPDATE - Clint has pulled out of the race - so the intrigue on the makeup of the potential top 10 is even greater!!]   As should college sophomore and Butte native Josh Panasuk.  Josh has the experience of multiple times competing at Wulfman and knows the course well.  Master's aces Jeff Braun (Butte) and Mike Telling (Dillon) also know the course very well and would be expected to be close to the front of the pack.

Speaking of Master's runners - there's a whole group who are throwing down some pretty fast predicted times.  Aside from the aforementioned Hunt, Braun and Telling (who all could be top-10 overall finishers), we also have senior studs like Kirk Keller and Mark Slater (both of Bozeman).  Toss in some others such as Cobey Williamson of Corvallis, Bryan Bradshaw of Butte, Paul Brandt of Spokane Valley, WA, Guy Wadas of Henderson, NV, Kyle Klicker of Phillipsburg and Steve Holloway of Missoula; and, you have the makings of not just a solid Master's race - but, the age-graded rankings become very competitive indeed.

The women's race could be a one-sided affair; or, it could be very interesting.  Assuming that she's healthy, fit and rested, Deer Lodge's Nicole Hunt is the odd's on favorite to run away with the title.  Nicole is the defending champion and is the record holder for both course directions.  Nicole won the women's division of the 11-Miles To Paradise event a month ago; and, has run well in several other early season races.  But, as a 40+ mother of 3 (including the young twins) - her sleep and training can, at time, cause her to be less than fresh going into competition.  And, being heavily involved in the race management duties will also contribute to her pre-race workload.

If ready to go, Nicole will be chasing her S-N record of 64:10 from 2009; the Master's record of 75:27 set by Debbie Gibson (2009); and, the 66:03 age-graded record of Debbie Magilke (also 2009).  But, if she's not on her "A" game - then there's quite a field that will be in the chase.

Olivia Wood of Anaconda is fresh off an exceptional high school career as an Anaconda Copperhead distance runner.  And, she's had a top 10 finish at CDT (2010) and 4th place finishes in 2011 & 2012.  Is this the year that she makes the top 3; and, if things go her way then maybe the title?  Or, what about race rookie Lisa Minnehan of Billings?  She was a top collegiate performer during her time at MSU-Billings; and, has had quite a bit of road success over the last few years.  Injury issues laid her low last year; but, she could be a definite factor if fit and healthy.

Kathy Peterson of Dillon is back and ready to improve on her 4th place Master's finish from last year.  And, then there is newcomer Lori Buratto (42) of Spokane Valley, WA.  With the mix of race veterans and newbies, it should prove to be a very interesting day on the trail.

Good luck to all entrants.  Remember to check the Wulfman website for pre-race details on starting procedures, parking, shuttle buses, etc.  Look forward to seeing everybody on the 22nd.

See you on the roads, tracks and Continental Divide Trail - The Muddy Buzzard

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Good, Bad or Indifferent

So.....................................maybe you don't care that I haven't posted since late April.  That's what being a track coach on top of a regular job will do to you.  But, I miss the posting.  It's cathartic for me and let's me get some excess baggage out of the cranial cavity.

It's just that track, work and training (a littl' somethin' that I like to call me TWT) just give me almost free time - especially as we get into May and the "big" meets (district, divisionals and state).  Then, it normally takes me a couple of weeks to get caught up and back to some sense of normalcy in life.

Well, looks like we're hitting that point and I'm going to be laying down some bits and bytes.  Look for some upcoming posts about the fantastic season of the Plains High School girls team.  The great distance action at the Class B and AA state meet in Bozeman.  And, a memorable road trip to the Pre Classic.

But, before that, get ready in the next couple of days to get a preview of the hot action at the upcoming CDT-14K Wulfman Trail Race. 

Glad to be back, and....................................see you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Governor's Cup @ 40

Courtesy of Jesse Zentz - here's a press release on the 40th Anniversary of the Governor's Cup.

Marathon returns for 40th Governor’s Cup

HELENA, Mont. – The Governor’s Cup is running back to its roots.
With the return of the marathon for the 40th annual event in Helena, participants will navigate a commemorative 26.2-mile course from Marysville to the Capital City – a scenic route featuring portions of courses used throughout the race’s rich history in Helena from 1976 to 2008.

The 2013 Governor’s Cup, presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, will begin with the marathon at 6 a.m. Saturday, June 8, followed by the start of the half marathon at 7 a.m. The half marathon also will follow a commemorative course to celebrate the event’s fourth decade of providing Montanans and visitors with a healthy and fun activity for the entire family. Along with the longer events, the event will feature a 10-kilometer run/walk at 8 a.m., a 5K at 10 a.m., the Stuart Brownlow 400-meter Challenge at 10 a.m., and a 1-mile Fun Run at 11 a.m.

“For Montanans who are serious runners to those who just want to get in better shape, the Governor’s Cup coming up in June is a great incentive to get outside and start moving,” said Governor Steve Bullock, who will be participating in the event. “There’s tons of research that shows just how important exercise is to our physical and mental well-being, so I hope a record number of Montanans will join me in this year’s run.  Whether you’re 6 or 66, I encourage you to sign up for a great day of exercise and companionship.”

Mike Frank, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, will run the marathon.

“Throughout its rich history, the Governor’s Cup has been Montana’s marquee running event,” Frank said. “We are proud to offer a full spectrum of races that do so much to encourage a healthy lifestyle.”

Registration is open at Fees are $60 for the marathon, $50 for the half marathon, $20 for the 10K or 5K, $15 for the Fun Run, and $10 for the Stuart Brownlow 400-meter Challenge. A Family Fun Package is also available for $60, which includes four entries for the 10K, 5K, or Fun Run. All entrants will receive a T-shirt and race number.

The late Thomas L. Judge helped establish the Governor’s Cup in 1974 during his first of two terms as Montana’s governor, as the event was then sponsored by the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness. His son, Patrick, has competed in the event the past 33 years. The Governor’s Cup began in Bozeman in 1974, was held in Missoula the following year, and found a permanent home in Helena in 1976. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (then Blue Shield of Montana) became the event’s major corporate sponsor in 1979, beginning a successful relationship now in its 34th year.

“There aren’t many races in Montana with the depth of history enjoyed by the Governor’s Cup,” Patrick Judge said. “One of its most defining aspects has always been the diverse menu of races, offering multiple opportunities for families, fitness enthusiasts, fun-seekers, and serious competitors.”

The Governor’s Cup serves as a major fundraising event for the Caring Foundation of Montana and the Healthy Montana Kids Plan. The Caring Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization founded by BCBSMT in 1992, is exclusively dedicated to providing Montana children with access to health care benefits. For more information, visit or call 1-800-447-7828, ext. 7990. The Healthy Montana Kids dental plan, a program of the Department of Public Health and Human Services, provides free or low-cost health coverage for children up to age 19. For more information, visit or call 1-877-543-7669.



Patrick Judge, Helena
Son of late and former Governor Thomas L. Judge, who helped launch the event in 1974; past marathon (1999), 20K (1997), 10K (1993, 2011) champ; has run in the event the previous 33 years
“It’s exciting that Blue Cross has chosen to commemorate the 40th anniversary with the return of the ‘42K.’ Bringing back this marquee event, on the classic Marysville course, is a great tribute to the history of the race.”

“I think the founders of the Governor’s Cup would be well-pleased with its longevity, popularity, and overall success. I’m very proud of my dad’s role in helping launch the event with the support of the Governor’s Office, and for his personal enthusiasm for running. And I’m thrilled that the current Governor is building on that tradition.”

“There aren’t many races in Montana with the depth of history enjoyed by the Governor’s Cup. One of its most defining aspects has always been the diverse menu of races, offering multiple opportunities for families, fitness enthusiasts, fun-seekers, and serious competitors. In my view, it’s always been one of the key ‘must run’ events on the Montana racing circuit. The race options and overall festival atmosphere are great for anyone looking for a healthy and fun Saturday morning activity. There’s a reason it consistently draws such large crowds.”

“I’m really grateful for all the sponsors, volunteers, and participants that have made the event possible over the last four decades, and really impressed with the current organizational team. Here’s to 40 more years!”

Fondest memory: “Winning the Marathon in 1999, during my 20th running of the Governor’s Cup.”

Karen Gall, Billings

Women’s marathon record-holder; also past winner of 20K, 10K, and 5K

“The Governor’s Cup was our state’s marathon and the flagship of all the Governor’s Cup races. The return of the marathon puts the meat back into the event.”
“It is my hope that Governor’s Cup continues to grow and reach more people through this fun, healthy lifestyle opportunity. The races at Governor’s Cup helped me set and realize some personal goals.”

“By running every distance at Governor's Cup I got to know the lay of the land of our state Capitol and also just how deficient I was in hill work. Each Governor’s Cup was memorable and the setting is beautiful. It has always been the reunion of running friends that I enjoyed most.”

“My fondest racing memory in Helena was my one run of the Governor's Cup marathon. It was a beautiful crisp morning in June when we started in Marysville. It was a day when everything felt right. Great scenery, great volunteers, and a great event.”

Tony Banovich, Plains

Past winner of men’s marathon, 20K, 10K, 5K, and marathon relay

“It's great that the marathon is being brought back into the race carnival. Having the four events all taking place on one day creates a race environment that is unique to Montana.”

“While the 5K may be the race of the masses, the marathon is the race of the committed distance runner. It’s also a race that has seen the best distance runners in Montana over the last 40 years, including Jim Hatcher, Stan Zezotarski, Cyle Wold, Dave Coppock, Matt Storrud, and Karen Gall. It's exciting to see that the event will again be part of the Governor's Cup weekend and a new generation of runners can add their name to the race history.”

“I've always enjoyed the concept of the Governor’s cup. It’s part social. It’s part competition. But, most importantly, it’s a great event to encourage a fit, healthy, active lifestyle. And I want to thank Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana for their long sponsorship of this event. It’s certainly been an important part of my running career, and I know that it’s greatly influenced many other athletes within Montana.”

“(Entering the 1994 marathon,) I had already won the 5K, 10K and 20K in previous years and was trying to win the marathon to complete the ‘collection.’ I was in the lead at about half-way, when my quads got very tight and sore at the top of the Birdseye Hills. I desperately wanted to drop out, but couldn't bring myself to drop while in the lead. So, I kept gutting it out – having built about a 10 minute lead by the time we passed Fort Harrison – and got the win. Winning all four of the races and being the only man to do so is one of my fondest memories and proudest achievements.”

Dave Coppock, Billings

Record five-time winner of men’s marathon (1987, 88, 90, 92, 95)

 “My fondest memory would have to be the first time I won it in 1987. I think it was in the mid 2:30s or so, but I was really happy to finally get a win. It made it all the better that I, literally, went home empty handed all those years prior taking a whole lot of seconds and thirds.”

 “I had always heard of the Governor’s Cup since I went to school at UM in the ’70s. It was the premier marathon and maybe the only marathon in the state then. The quality and depth of the field was a lot higher back then because there were a lot of post-collegiate runners getting into road racing. Plus there was a running and marathon boom taking place (1976-80s), so it was very competitive out there.

“I remember that if you placed second or third in the marathon, you didn’t even get recognized at the event – you just went home. So, I felt like it was all or nothing. It was a shame for a good marathoner to go home empty-handed like that. I know a lot of other guys who were a little bitter about running a good, fast marathon, placing second or third and feeling sort of snubbed. There was no comparison to what the 5K runners were doing and a guy who could run a sub-2:30 on that course.”

“People didn’t realize how tough that course was with the long downhill from Marysville at the start, the rolling Birdseye Hills in the middle and the uphill finish. If you didn’t run a smart early race, your legs were shot in the last 10K. It runs a lot like Boston in that respect.

“I did think it was great and unique race – starting in Marysville, seeing everyone from around the state at the finish. It was a great time to be with old running friends – sort of like a big runners’ convention.”


1. Senator Max Baucus became the first U.S. Senator to finish a full marathon when he crossed the finish line in Helena in 1979 at age 38.

2. Dave Coppock, now the head cross country and track and field coach at Montana State University Billings, is the only five-time winner of the Governor’s Cup marathon, earning the top spot in 1987, 1988, 1990, 1992, and 1995.

3. Plains’ Tony Banovich and Billings’ Karen Sanford-Gall are the only man and woman to have won four different individual distances at the Governor’s Cup (5K, 10K, 20K, and marathon). The 20K gave way to the half marathon in 2000. Banovich also has a marathon relay victory to his credit.

4. Deer Lodge’s Nicole Hunt owns three records at the Governor’s Cup. In 1997, she established the 20-kilometer benchmark of 1:16:00. That distance is no longer contested. In 2003, she set the 5K record with a time of 17:12, and in 2005, she established the 10K record at 35:43.

5. Kirk Keller won a whopping five consecutive 10K championships from 1982 to 1986. Kalispell’s Bill Brist, who won the 5K titles in 1985 and 1986, snapped Keller’s streak with the 10K title in 1987.

6. Helena’s own Heather Lieberg won the two most recent women’s marathon titles, taking the top spot in 2007 with a time of 3:07:49 and winning in 2008 with a time of 3:00:10. Last April, Lieberg placed 30th among women at the Boston Marathon in 3:01:00, and in January, she ran a personal best of 2:47:13 at the Phoenix P.F. Chang Rock and Roll Marathon.

7. The Governor’s Cup – for many years host of Montana’s only marathon – is now home to one of seven marathons in the state. It is, however, the first Montana-based marathon on the 2013 calendar.

8. Despite the proliferation of marathons in the Treasure State, the Governor’s Cup remains home to the fastest time posted in the event. In 1982, Helena’s Jim Hatcher won in 2:20:35 – a pace of 5:22 per mile.

9. Seventeen runners toed the line for the first Governor’s Cup marathon on May 27, 1974, in Bozeman. Missoula’s Ian Christopherson won that race in 2:49:00.

10. The Governor’s Cup was first contested in 1974. Here’s a look back at some fun facts from that year:

  • U.S. president Richard Nixon resigned in the wake of the Watergate scandal.
  • Hank Aaron became the all-time MLB home run leader on April 8 when he hit his 715th homer.
  • George Forman knocked out Muhammad Ali in “The Rumble in the Jungle” for the world heavyweight boxing championship.
  • Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song” was named Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards.
  • Estimate of the world population reaches 4 billion. The current estimate is nearing 7.1 billion.
  • The Rubik’s Cube puzzle was invented.
  • The 55 mph speed limit was imposed throughout the U.S. to preserve gas usage.
  • “The Godfather, Part II” won Best Picture at the Academy Awards.