A Sweet Spot in the Land of Five Valleys: Andy Tucknott on Missoula Running (and a goodbye)

Editor's Note: Those of us in Missoula know Andy Tucknott, the guy with the Elmer Fudd hat and the spirited energy to organize and captain multiple years of Team Missoula Montana Cup gold. An excellent runner, handballer, tennis player, insurance salesman, Cornhuskers fan, motivator, family man, and friend. He, Darr, and son Grady will be sorely missed as they embark on new adventures outside of the Land of Five Valleys.

2012 Missoula men's Montana Cup victory photo, with Andy hefting the trophy

Things like golf clubs, baseball bats, and tennis racquets have sweet spots, and when you connect ball to the sweet spot it is a beautiful thing to behold. For some other things the sweet spot is related to timing: the ’96 – ’01 Yankees, a good run of Saturday Night Live before all the stars go to Hollywood, Greenwich Village in the 60’s, . . .  When you are in a groove like Torre & the Yankees were in those days it is hard to see where the parade route ends.  You never know how long it will last but when it is gone – it is over and you may not ever get it back. 

I have lived it on the good side and the bad.  I started playing handball in 2004 and we Handballers of Missoula didn’t know it then but we were in a sweet spot.  It was taken away from us when our club burned, sold to a plumber, sold to a church & we clung to it so tightly that after playing over the lunch hour we were relegated to showering in the parking lot with a garden hose.  It was officially over & try as we might we couldn’t get it back.  By the way we still can’t.

We, The Runners of Missoula, are in the middle of a sweet spot.  There are a lot of factors that contribute to us being in the sweet spot, but here are some major factors:

Ø  The people – their spirit, generosity, volunteerism, and energy.

Ø  The over-the-top support from the Brookers & The Runner's Edge.

Ø  Run Wild Missoula is booming with membership & participation.  People of all ages & levels are out there getting after it.

Ø  The book (Facebook) everybody is talking about & showing pictures of running on the book.

Ø  The pros, our rock stars, Foote, Kollar, Schlarb, Wolfe, Cummins.  We have runners travelling the globe, winning races and with pride they are repping Missoula everywhere they go.   

The fact that we are in a sweet spot is not debatable.  We could debate when it started.  For me and from my perspective it began during the Boston Marathon trip in 2009 with that group of people, but that isn’t the point.  The point is to raise the question -- now that we have hit our stride what do we do to maintain it?  If we take it for granted & do nothing, assume others will keep it going for us, assume it will always be this good, then it will be gone and once it is gone it is over & all you will have is a memory.  Recognition is the most important part.  Now that you realize you are a flannel wearing teenager living in Seattle in 1989 I suggest you also do the following:

1.     Be grateful, this isn’t the time or place to list everybody involved, there are too many, but I do thank you & appreciate what you do for the community.

2.     Enjoy it!  This is a rad time to be a runner in the land of 5 valleys.  I was here when it wasn’t this good & life is enriched.  The Rattlesnake isn’t going anywhere but it won’t be the same – trust me.

3.     Step up, participate, volunteer, join RWM, read the MT Trail Crew, give support, run a race out of your comfort zone, attend a race when you aren’t running (Kollar you are the man), go run a race outside of Missoula or outside MT with a bunch of Missoulians, run MT CUP, start a blog, host a film fest, it is all good.

Maybe we can’t control how long we stay in this sweet spot but… maybe we can… and as long as we are here let’s enjoy it & do what we can to keep the momentum going.

I am writing this at a time when my family is moving out of the Missoula valley and won’t be able to do anything but watch from afar. In Corvallis, OR, to be exact.  We have treasured being a part of the community here in Missoula & we are hoping that you, The Runners of Missoula, keep the momentum going.

Respectfully Submitted by Andy Tucknott


  1. Well said, Andy. Best of luck to the four of you in Corvallis. Layne



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