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