|Seth Swanson running the Western States 100 with Rob Krar. Photo: ultrarunnerpodcast.com
[Authors note: It would be impossible to encapsulate all the amazing 2014 accomplishments of Montana trail runners in one blog post. Sifting through the multitude of social media posts for the task of writing a short year-in-review was a much larger and more overwhelming project than expected. It was also incredibly inspirational. This list is only a small fraction of what actually happened last year and is mostly focused on Missoula runners, and even more specifically on those within our limited radar. For 2015, our goal is to include more contributions from runners throughout the Montana area: not just elite runners, and not just from Missoula. Please consider contacting us if you are willing to share with the greater trail running community your experience running or racing in this land we love to call home. Congratulations on a fantastic 2014 and here’s to happy and healthy running in 2015!]
To start the year off right, Montana Trail Crew’s (MTC’s) Jeremy Wolf and former member Jason Schlarb traveled to the Patagonia region of Chile to run the classic O-W Circuit route through Torres del Paine National Park. Their adventures were captured by filmmaker Joel Wolpert in Around Patagonia, which was later shown nationwide at the Trail Film Fest organized by Rainshadow Running. For more of the story, you can check out: Jason Schlarb’s blog post preceding the project and Jeremy Wolf’s report about the project: Making a Trail Running Film. You can also watch the trailer for Around Patagonia or purchase the film online.
|Jeremy Wolf and Jason Schlarb in the film Around Patagonia by Joel Wolpert
February was the month of destination races. Several local Missoulians traveled to Washington to run Rainshadow Running’s popular Orcas Island 50k, a beautiful destination race off the coast of Washington. Dean McGovern, Rika Botzet, Rick Wishcamper, John Fiore, John Hart, Steve Brown, Ken Ellis, Kevin Twidwell, Allison Onstad, Holly Foster, Jamie Schwartz, Randy Colbert, and Ethan Kanning took part.
|Missoula ultra runners head to Orcas Island 50K, Washington
Whitefish photographer Myke Hermsmeyer captured the beauty of the southwest in this Moab Red Hot 55K Photo Essay for Montana Trail Crew. Mike Foote of Missoula came in third, just behind Alex Nichols and Paul Hamilton of Colorado.
|Mike Foote (center–green) in the lead pack at Moab Red Hot 55K
Jeremy Wolf reports on his 4th attempt at the ultra distance at the competitive Way Too Cool 50K in California, and the “epic blow up” that ensued. Going from third to 17th in the last ten miles of the race, Jeremy shares some valuable lessons he learned along the way.
|Jeremy Wolf (center) running the Way Too Cook 50K, California
Mike Wolfe shared his insights with Missoula at the University of Montana on running the once fastest known time (FKT) of the John Muir Trail in California’s Sierra mountains during 2013 with his The North Face team-mate Hal Koerner. The inspiring presentation previewed images and storyline of the later-released film, The Long Haul by JB Benna of Journey Film. Watch The Long Haul teaser trailer here. The film is currently being released in major cities across the nation (and roomer has it—the film will eventually make it to Missoula). Read Mike’s report of the JMT supported FKT on iRunFar or the Runner’s World article about their effort: Ultrarunners Claim Speed Record on John Muir Trail. You can also listen to an entertaining UltraRunner Podcast interview with Hal about the journey.
|Mike Wolfe (left) and Hal Koerner (right) with film and support crew during the 2013 JMT FKT
Mike Foote takes third at Ultra-Trail Mt Fuji—part of the Ultra-Trail World Tour. In a typical Foote fashion, he surprised global audiences and made Montana extremely proud by storming the podium late in the race behind Francois D’Haene of France and Ryan Sandes of South Africa. Watch this video to see highlights of the 2014 UTMF race and see Mike coming into 3rd (around 21:26 minutes into the movie–notice the sick beat). Read more about the event in theiRunFar 2014 Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji Results recap, or watch the iRunFar 2014 UTMF pre-race interview with Foote and the iRunFar 2014 UTMF post-race interview with Foote.
|Mike Foote representing Montana with his support crew at the Ultra Trail Mont Fuji
Nikki Kimball of Bozeman wins The Marathon des Sables a 6-day stage race of semi-autonomy across the Sahara desert. Ranked by the Discovery Channel as The Toughest Footrace on Earth, the run covers approximately 156 miles in temperatures of up to 120 degrees and requires runners to carry their own food and water which is rationed at nightly checkpoints. Read Nikki’s incredible 2014 Marathon des Sables race report for iRunFar, and the iRunFar 2014 Marathon results report. You can also watch this 2014 MdS Post-race interview with Nikki Kimball. Also, read Ian Corless’ interview with Nikki on MdS ‘Hints and Tips.‘
|Photo by Ian Corless of TalkUltra of Nikki Kimball during her victorious Marathon des Sables
Jimmy announced his plans to run in all of the 15 wilderness areas, his Wilderness Project, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. His adventures are documented in this short film: Running Wilderness. Jimmy and Jed Rogers, a former MTC board member, drew attention to the importance of protecting and enjoying wilderness areas by later presenting at the Wildnerness Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where they also led an impromptu trail run in the Sandia mountains.
|Photo by Myke Hermsmeyer of Jimmy Grant running off Ousel Peak in the Great Bear Wilderness
A local favorite, the annual Pengelly Double Dip trail half marathon run by Run Wild Missoula, and directed by hardcore local ultra runner Kevin Twidwell, draws runners out for a beautiful day on some of Missoula’s favorite hometown trails around Mount Sentinel. Read the Pengelly Double Dip Race Report by Kristina Pattison with photos by Myke Hermsmeyer.
|Photo by Myke Hermsmeyer of Mark Handelman and Mike Wolfe leading racers during the Pengelly Double Dip
MTC volunteers gather the day after Pengelly in the North Hills to help maintain some high-use trail space close to downtown.
|MTC volunteers give back by doing trail work in the North Hills
An enormous crew of Montana runners stormed the Bighorn Trail Runs in 2014 with inspiring first-time 100-mile finishes by Ken Ellis, JB Yonce, and Megan Williams of Missoula. Damian Stoy of Bozeman takes the 50-mile win.
|Megan Williams (blue), Ken Ellis (bright yellow behind) and Steve Brown (orange) start the BH100
Jeff Rome of Missoula shows off his mountain running talents and runs to a third place finish on the tough Old Gabe course in the Bridger range of Bozeman, Montana. Read his race report here: Mountain Men and Their Blankets.
|Runners in the Bridgers at Bozeman’s Old Gabe 50K
June 27-28: The Weekend Missoula Sat on Top of the Ultra Running World
Missoula runners, Mike Wolfe, Mike Foote, and Seth Swanson all had successful finishes in the most competitive ultra distance mountain and trail races globally over the course of one busy weekend. Jeremy Wolf reports in his recap The Weekend Missoula Sat on Top of the Ultra Running World.
|Photo by Ian Corless of Mike Wolfe running the Skyrunning World Championships, Chamonix, France
June 27th-28th, 2014: Mike Wolfe runs to an 8th place finish (1st American) at the Mont Blanc Marathon 80K, the 2014 Skyrunning World Championship in Chamonix, France. The Skyrunning World Championships take place once every four years, and elite mountain runners from around the globe are invited to this event based on past race results leading to high rankings by the International Skyrunning Federation. The course boasts over 20,000’ of vertical gain in about 50-miles, making it the toughest course of this distance in the world. Read more about the results in the iRunFar results article.
|Mike Wolfe & son Colt at the finish line of the Mont Blanc 80K
June 27th: Mike Foote runs to a 2nd place finish just behind ultrarunning superstar Anton Krupicka at Lavaredo Ultra Trail in Cortina, Italy. The 74-mile run takes place in the Dolomites in Italy, and has over 19,000 feet of vertical gain. Like Ultra Trail Mount Fuji, the race is part of the Ultra Trail World Tour race series. Read more in the iRunFar 2014 Lavaredo Ultra Trail race recap.
|Mike Foote on the podium with Anton Krupicka at the 2014 North Face Lavaredo Ultra Trail
June 28th: Seth Swanson of Missoula takes 2nd at the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run in California, with the 8th fastest time in the history of the race. WS100 is touted as the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. It takes runners up and over Squaw Valley, through the Granite Chief Wilderness, to the Tahoe National Forest and American River canyon. Seth entered the race on a lucky lottery ticket and surprised the ultra running world by coming in just behind Rob Krar to take 2nd. No other ultra race of the season gets as much press as this event does in the United States. Ultra running legends Tim Twietmeyer, Scott Jurek, Hal Koerner, and Kilian Jornet earned everlasting stripes by winning Western. A top-ten finish earns an invite back for the next year, ensuring 20 automatic-entry participants are already experienced on the course. An additional 30 slots are reserved for winners of the Montrail Ultra Cup Series. Seth slipped under the radar coming into the event for the first time through the lottery, and multiple pre-race previews, interviews, and speculations overlooked his talent. During the race, live feeds by Ultra Sports Live TV and iRunFar revealed the perplexed exclamations of those who were shocked to see him up front. Read more about the race in iRunFar’s 2014 Western States 100 Results article. Listen to more of Seth’s story about the event in an Ultra Runner Postcast post-race 2014 Western States 100 interview with Seth Swanson. In somewhat less surprising news, Nikki Kimball, a veteran of Western with 3 first place finishes under her belt, took 5th place this year. Read this feature by ESPN: A Long Trail to Recovery on Nikki that was released before the race. Also, watch Bryon Powell’s pre-Western States 100 interview with Nikki on iRunFar.
|Seth Swanson finishes the 2014 Western States 100 in 2nd place in 15:19
Kevin Twidwell runs to an impressive finish at the Hardrock 100 Mile Endurance Run in the San Juan mountains of Colorado. With over 33,000 feet of vertical gain at elevations topping 14,000’, the race is legendary for it’s beauty and difficulty. 2014 was a particularly memorable year as Kilian Jornet set a new course record with apparent ease, while others were caught in life-threatening lightning storms on Handy’s peak. Remarkably, Kevin ran HR100 just months after recovering from knee surgery, and called upon the support of several of Missoula’s most die-hard and hardcore ultra crew to keep him going. Read Kevin’s memorable account here: Fun and Soggy Times at the Hardrock 100.
|Photo by Steve Brown of Kevin Twidwell embarking on the Hardrock 100 course
Several top runners returned to Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah for the second ultra distance race in the US Skyrunning series, the Speedgoat 50k. The relentless course serves runners over 11,000’ of cumulative vertical gain at elevations topping over 11,000’. Training partners Mike Wolfe and Justin Yates of Missoula took top-ten finishes despite some unfortunate course confusion late in the race, causing several runners to lose time off-course. Rhea Black of Missoula’s Momentum Athletic Training also had a strong finish in the women’s field. Check out Jason Eichhorst’s amazing gallery of Speedgoat 50K photos.
|Photo by Myke Hermsmeyer of Rhea Black during the Speedgoat 50K
Peder Anderson and Nikki Kimball (course record holder) win the rugged Bridger Ridge Run, a classic Montana mountain trail race, that is entered by lottery or selection by the BRR board of directors. In interesting news, Missoula’s Seth Swanson and Justin Yates were rejected in the 2014 selection process, making everyone wonder what exactly goes into the selection process. (Call to anyone who would like to write an article about the BRR selection process). See the full BRR results here. And check out the Bozeman Daily Chronicle’s article about the run: Home on the Ridge.
|Peder Anderson on the final descent to the men’s win at the 2014 Bridger Ridge Run in Bozeman
Steve Brown displayed some unbelievable organization and leadership skills and led twenty-one runners in a 50-mile self-supported run across the Bob Marshall wilderness. Read about the second annual RATBOB, including some beautiful images here: RATBOB II: Run Across the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
|Runners gather after the 2nd annual RATBOB: Run Across the Bob with Steve Brown
Justin Angle takes the win at the second running of Montana’s only 100-mile event, the Ghosts of Yellowstone 100 in the Tobacco Root mountains west of Bozeman. Due to ferocious weather, only five finishers made it through to finish the 100. Bozeman runner Chris Mottola (reigning champ of the 2013 50-miler) returned to take 2nd in the 100. The 50-mile event was shortened to a 50k due to weather. Craig Hertz of Montana won the 50K for men with Bozeman’s Dennis Ball and Michele Anderson taking second in the men’s and women’s fields respectively. Read Justin’s entertaining race recap to hear about the extraordinary lengths some people will go through to finish a 100. Also, check out the full list of results on the Mystery Ranch Ultra Challenge website.
|Justin Angle in the elements at the second running of Ghosts of Yellowstone 100. Photo by Beau Fredlund.
On the home front, the second annual Marshall Mountain 5K/10K gathered an enthusiastic crowd for a hot afternoon of trail running on some beautiful single track in East Missoula. Jason Delaney took the overall win in the 10K and Nicole Hunt took first place for women. See full results here. Kate Oyler and Mike Hramadka took the 5K wins. See the full 5K results here.
|Photo by Tommi Burton of Nicole Hunt taking first place for women at the 2014 Marshall Mountain 10K
Seth Swanson again storms the ultra running scene by taking 1st with a new course record at the rugged Cascade Crest 100 in Washington against competitive Canadian Gary Robbins and Seattle-based Matt Hart. See the full results here.
|Seth and Norel Swanson and family after Seth’s win & CR at Cascade Crest 100
In the most memorable goodbye Missoula has ever seen, Justin Yates runs laps of the northwest ridge route up Mount Sentinel in Missoula for 24-hours straight as a farewell to his favorite trail before moving to Eugene. His 17 laps earned him approximately 34,000’ gain (yes, probably as much as Hardrock 100). Word has it he actually ran the last lap of this notoriously steep route. Friends and training partners joined him for the last lap and the Missoulian wrote this short feature on his epic accomplishment.
|Justin Yates and friends on his final lap of 24-hours of Sentinel. Photo: missoulian.com
Nikki Kimball of Bozeman wins the competitive Run Rabbit Run 100 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The event boasts the largest prize purse of any trail ultra marathon in the world and draws some of the nation’s best runners. Kimball’s victory was impressive and inspiring given her long history of dominating the sport. She confirmed race director Speedgoat Karl Meltzer’s comments in pre-race previews that despite Nikki being in her 40’s, you just can’t overlook Nikki. Watch the 2014 RRR100 post-race interview with Nikki on iRunFar. Check out the Running Competitor’s Run Rabbit Run 100 Photo Gallery.
|Nikki Kimball (center) wins the Run Rabbit Run 100, Colorado. Photo: competitor.com
Local filmmaker, Bobby Jahrig releases the first of two inspiring short-films for Epic Montana YouTube channel about what makes running in Montana just so special. Featuring accomplished local runners: Mike Wolfe, Mike Foote, Seth Swanson, Justin Angle, Jeremy Wolf, and Kristina Pattison. Watch Treasure State of Mind and Trails to Live By.
|Photo by Bobby Jahrig of Justin Angle running Montana trails in Epic Montana’s short films
The Rut 50K
|Photo by Jordi Saragossa of Kilian Jornet running the headwaters ridge section of the 2014 Rut 50K
Montana’s premier ultra distance mountain running event, the Rut 50K returned to Big Sky Resort as the 2014 World Skyrunning Series ultra distance championship. The Runner’s Edge race is directed by internationally renown runners Mike Foote and Mike Wolfe of Missoula. Top runners from around the globe traveled to Montana to test their speed at this world-class event. Read their responses to MTC’s pre-race questions about The Rut: Paul Hamilton, Ellie Greenwood, Catlow Shipek, Emelie Forseberg, Hillary Allen, Sage Canaday, Jason Delaney, Kilian Jornet, Daniel Kraft, Rickey Gates, Adam Campbell, and Anna Frost.
|Photo by Adam Behrant of Mike Foote (left) and Geoff Roes (right) marking the rugged Rut 50K course 2014
Also, you can check out perspectives and thoughts on the race from some local Missoula runners: Kristina Pattison The Rut 50K Experience and Jeremy Wolf’s Rut 50K Race Report.
For some impressive visuals of the course, check out Sprout Films video series about the event: Experience the Rut Part 1 and Experience the Rut Part 2. Also, you can watch Ultra Sports Live TV’s race report video by Derrick Lytle with some incredible time-lapse shots. Duct Tape TV also made a 2014 Run the Rut 50K video, and Big Sky Resort had their own short The Rut 50K Race video. USLTV also interviewed several of the top runners at the finish line. iRunFar was on scene interviewing top runners pre-race and post-race, and you can read more about how the race shook out for the top runners in their 2014 Rut 50K race report.
Missoula’s classic Mount Sentinel Hill Climb is a short suffer-fest up to the top of the mountain via the “M” trail by the University of Montana. At the top of the “M” runners choose to head up the most direct northwest ridge route, or the longer switchbacks to the summit. Speedster Jim Walmsley won overall in 2014 with a new course record, and Whitefish runner Cynthia Arnold took first for the women. Check out MTC’s 10 Questions with Jim Walmsley to learn more about this up-and-coming runner. See the Runner’s Edge 2014 Sentinel Hill Climb full results here.
|Photo by Myke Hermsmeyer of Jim Walmsley during his CR on the Mount Sentinel Hill Climb
The Le Grizz 50M saw the last running on the classic course around the west side of Hungry Horse Reservoir. Pat Caffrey stood down as the race director after this final farewell to traditional route of the 3rd oldest fifty-mile event in the United States. The event will be taken over by another race director, and the course will now be an out and back to the Canada border, starting and finishing at Polebridge near Glacier National Park. See the Cheetah Herders 2014 Grizz Gazette for full results and highlights from the race. Also read this article by Flathead Beacon about Pat Caffrey and the history of the race in The Legend of Le Grizz.
|Photo by Myke Hermsmeyer of the last running of the classic Le Grizz 50M course around Hungry Horse Reservoir
MTC officially adopts a portion of the trail in the North Hills to maintain. Trail work days will be announced in the future so if you are looking to give back to the trail running community or earn some volunteer credit for an ultra, please stay in touch as we will be adding an email sign-up to the website soon.
|Photo by Myke Hermsmeyer of the North Hills, Missoula, Montana
Mount Jumbo sees it’s first trail race with Run Wild Missoula’s Elk Ramble 15K. The event partnered with MTCs film festival offering tickets to the first 180 to enter. Missoula’s Andy Drobeck took first overall, while Cynthia Arnold of Whitefish took the women’s lead. See the full results here. Also check out this good read by Jimmy Grant: Runner Habitat on the significance of this new trail race for the Missoula community.
|Andy Drobeck wins the inaugural Elk Ramble 15k trail run. Photo by Kristina Pattison
MTC holds the second annual Mountain Running Film Festival at the Wilma Theater in Missoula. The night showcased trail and mountain running events in some of the world’s most iconic and beautiful areas. With approximately 400 people in attendance, money was raised that will be invested back into the Montana trail running community in the coming year.
|Runners gather for the 2nd Annual Montana Trail Crew Mountain Running Film Fest. Wilma Theater, Missoula.
Montana runner Jim Walmsley wins the JFK 50 in Maryland, the oldest 50-mile race in the country. The runnable and essentially flat course played to Jim’s strengths as a talented track and road runner.
|Jim Walmsley wins the JFK50 in Maryland. Photo by iRunFar on Twitter.
Several Montana runners head to the season finale event, the North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championships in San Francisco, California. Mike Foote took 13th overall, while Kristina Pattison took 10th for women. Emily Linton took third in the 50K event, while Andy and Trisha Drobeck both won the half marathon on Sunday. Read Jimmy Grant’s report: Team Montana at the North Face Endurance Challenge. You can also check out Kristina Pattison’s personal race report: The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championship. For more of the how the race played out, including extensive pre- and post- race interviews, check out the iRunFar Race Results.
|Babak Rastagoufard running along the coastal headlands at the NFEC50, California. Photo: Myke Hermsmeyer.
To finish the year off with another reason to celebrate, Seth Swanson of Montana Trail Crew and Nikki Kimball were voted by UltraRunner magazine as two of the top ten men and women Ultrarunners of the Year amongst the best runners in the United States. Congrats to Seth, Nikki and all the other amazing runners in Montana mentioned here or not, for an amazing 2014. Looking forward to seeing you blazing the trails in 2015!
|Nikki Kimball (far right) during the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. Photo: dirtproof.co.uk