|Mark Handelman and Mike Foote at the 2013 Sentinel Hill Climb - Credit: Vo Von Sehlen/The Runner's Edge|
The Runners Edge started putting on trail running events just a few years ago, but the races already have a great reputation. If you're a runner in Montana, it's pretty obvious why: Runners Edge owner Anders Brooker is everywhere. High school track meet? He's there coaching. Local fundraiser fun run? He's greeting you at the finish line. The biggest and most successful marathon in the Northern Rockies? He's the race director. In short, Brooker and The Runners Edge know a lot about running. But if that isn't enough, enter Mike Foote. The North Face athlete and Runners Edge race director lives in a yurt and logs repeats up and down Mount Sentinel before breakfast. The man knows trails and the key elements that go into designing a top notch trail race. During the thousands of miles he runs each year he's out there scouting venues and scheming up trail races.
Indeed, the events built on The Runners Edge formula take place in the spectacular mountains and open spaces that abound in Montana. Case in point: 11 miles to Paradise. I spotted an opening in my racing schedule last spring and jumped at the chance to toe the line of this Runners Edge classic-in-the-making. I made a quick stop at the store where Foote got me registered himself. A month later I toed the line ready to see what "Paradise" was all about. Foote said a few words and gave quite a few of his trademark grins (the guy is always smiling) before sending us charging through the forest paralleling the Lower Clark Fork in all its spring run-off glory.
|11 Miles of fun! The author staying dry at 11 Miles to Paradise - Credit: Vo von Sehlen/The Runner's Edge|
Marshall Mountain 5K/10K Trail Runs, [August TBA]: This race takes advantage of the trails built out at Marshall Mountain and, although it is a shorter distance, there are still some punchy and grunt worthy climbs and descents. We will have live music, a BBQ and beer again this year.But if experiencing one-of-a-kind trail races is not enough, consider supporting Runners Edge for their stewardship efforts of behalf of the Montana running community. They support trail work and contribute to organizations that protect open space. Foote encourages runners to do our part too by supporting Five Valleys Land Trust. He also suggests that runners familiarizing themselves with local land management agencies, including the USFS Missoula Ranger District, to learn about upcoming National Forest trail work projects (Recreation Specialist Al Hilshey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org) and local open space projects available through Missoula Parks and Recreation Department (Morgan Valliant at email@example.com)
The Rut 12K / 50K / VK, [September 12-13]: I don't event know where to begin with The Rut. Rugged and technical ultra marathon. International elite competition. The amazing venue of Big Sky Resort. This is the event not to miss as a runner, or spectator, in 2014. Period.
Blue Mountain 30K, [October 5]: This is a great low key Missoula race with an awesome (and challenging) loop course along the single track trails of Missoula’s Blue Mountain Recreation Area.
Sentinel Hill Climb, [October TBA]: This baby is a Missoula classic and is a fundraiser for the U of M Triathlon Team. It draws a great community of people and is a simple suffer fest up the M trail and beyond to the summit of Mt. Sentinel.
|Marshall Mountain Trail Runs - Credit: Vo von Sehlen/The Runner's Edge|