Jesse Zentz: Thompson sets HURL Fat Ass 50K record on spirit-filled day under the Big Sky

The bone-chilling cold western Montana has become all-too accustomed to this winter relented slightly on January 10, and HURL Fat Ass 50K competitors took full advantage to shake off some cobwebs, enjoy some gin and even set a record in Helena.

The sun shone brightly as temperatures hovered in the mid-20s and low-30s along the course from Helena and back on a loop that visited Montana City, the outskirts of Clancy, Unionville and the mountain roads south of Montana’s Capital City. Some even were allegedly treated to a sighting of a cow moose and her calf halfway into the journey.

A firm footing of hard-packed snow and ice – aside from a tolerable section of crusty foot-deep snow – greeted participants and set the stage for Fred Thompson’s badass record-setting performance of 4 hours, 13 minutes, 25 seconds.

Fred Thompson entering mile 15 on Hulls Gulch Road en route to a record-setting time of 4:13:25 – Photo by Janice Miller

Also greeting runners about 14 miles into the event was a welcome wagon featuring race director Martin Miller, who was tempting runners with a shot of fittingly named Martin Miller’s Gin to warm the body’s core.

Yours truly – running a lame-ass leg of a four-man relay team featuring fellow Helenans Bryan Johnson, Michael Kaiser and Aubrey Curtis – was tempted to throw down a gulp of the clear stuff, but figured his core was warm enough and wanted to avoid digestive issues with Thompson breathing down the team’s neck. We finished in 3:37:08 as the only four-person relay, while Josh Pallister and Shawn Pennartz posted a two-man time of 5:04:00.

Race director Martin Miller and his appropriately named gin. – Photos by Janice Miller

Following Thompson across the finish line in complete solo efforts were another 16 competitors, led by Hayden Jansen in 5:18:00. Hannah Yang paced the women in 7:03:00.

Along with those performances, Miller noted another nine examples of Lame Ass-ness (noted in the results below) in the loosely officiated event. That brought the number of recorded participants to 32. Several others joined the fun but didn’t sign in and avoided the shame of being called out by the race director.

My feeling of Lame Ass-ness only increased with the release of the results when Miller noted runners polished off the bottle of gin he was kindly sharing and I didn’t have the guts to force down a shot despite only putting in a measly 8-mile shift.

With just a small morsel of my pride still intact, at least I can say without a doubt that the Fat Ass 50K is an event that will remain on my schedule for years to come for the scenic course, the camaraderie and great spirit … and maybe someday, even a shot of Martin Miller’s Gin.

Runners prepare for the start of the HURL Fat Ass 50K. – Photo by Janice Miller
Haendel Zependa made Fat Ass 50K for his first-ever race. – Photo by Shannon Hilty
Ozzie Rosenleaf and Curtis Moen, clicking his heals, make their way toward the start of mile 15. – Photo by Debbie Gibson

Individual Results

Fred Thompson, 4:13:25!
Hayden Jansen, 5:18:00

Casey from Dillon, 5:25:00
Ozzie Rosenleaf, 5:00:00
Curtis Moen, 5:31:00
Kevin Downs, 5:38:00
Greg DeWitt, 6:02:00
Steve Engebrecht, 6:03:40
Scott Blum, 6:30:00
Matt Ellwein, 6:37:00
Cody Custis, 7:03:00
Hannah Yang, 7:03:00
Andrew Cupino, 7:17:00
Bill Wood, 7:44:00
Haendel Zepeda, 7:49:00
Sus Bristow, 6:33:00*
Toni Broadbent, 6:33:00*
!=Course record
*=Ran old Grizzly Gulch course

Relay Results

Bryan Johnson, Jesse Zentz, Michael Kaiser, Aubrey Curtis, 3:37:08
Josh Pallister, Shawn Pennartz, 5:04:00

Partial Participants

Gerry Daumiller, last 18 miles, 3;22
Tammie Engebrecht, last 18 miles, 3:47
Claudia Bickell, last 18 miles, 3:47
Don Cornish, last 14 miles, 2:25
Tammy Lavigne, 9 miles
Rhonda Safford, 8.3 miles
Melissa Godlewsky, 9 miles
Bard Furlong, 5.2 miles
Tom Kreissler, unknown distance, 2:30
 Race Director: Martin Miller
Volunteers: Debbie Gibson, Sue Marshall, John Hallsten and Janice Miller