MTC Weekly News: 8/11/15

A quick recap of what's gone down (and going down) for Montana trail running in August and some Montana mountain running history.

The Ridge - Credit: Big Sky Wind Drinkers
Mount Sentinel First Known Attempt: This Sunday's Missoulian included an interesting mountain running tidbit in a column reprinted from 1922 by Will Cave discussing Western Montana place names. He wrote that local Indians simply called Mount Sentinel "Esmock," or "Mountain." It's easy to assume that plenty of Salish raced up the mountain at some point or another, but Cave recounted a tale that is most likely the first documented speed ascent of the mountain. The story tells of Daniel E. Bandmann, a famous 19th Century actor who, in 1889, took a $5 wager that he could ascend the mountain in 45 minutes beginning at Missoula Mercantile at the corner of Front and Higgins. According to Cave, "None present had suspected his sprinting ability; but the speed he displayed in crossing the bridge, the flat, and climbing the mountain astonished the watching bunch. He was in full view until the last 'pitch,' from which point he was concealed by the trees. He was still several minutes to the good. In a brief time he appeared returning." Because the onlookers never saw him reach the top, they refused to pay him. But Cave reported that whether Bandmann summited or not, he came close enough that his feat "has never been duplicated" and "he was as near entitled to have a mountain named in honor of his endeavor as any one I know." Presumably, Bandmann's 1889 route involved covering the mile of flat before ascending the Northwest Ridge. 45 minutes for that route remains an impressive feat.

Elkhorn Endurance Runs: The Helena Ultra Runners League's (HURL) summer classic took place August 1st and brought some tight competition. Among the men running the 50 miler, Alberta's Andy Reed narrowly edged Missoula's Chase Parnell for the win (10:25 to 10:31). Spokane's Justin Shobe took 3rd. For the women, it was Missoula's Christi (Nowak) Richards taking her first ultra win as a Montana resident. Her time of 11:08 was good for 5th overall. Livingston's Jenny Pierce and Pocatello's Melissa Merrill rounded out the podium.

In the accompanying 50K, Ian Engerbretson took the win just minutes ahead of former Leadville 100 champ Ashley Arnold, who finished first among women. The other two men on the podium were Micah Bostrom and Brian Flansburg in 3rd and 4th overall, respectively. Darcy McKiney Lester finished 2nd among women and Chelsey Frank took 3rd.

Snowbowl 15K: This new Runners Edge event brought some talented runners out to test their fitness on Missoula's local ski mountain. Polson's Jason Delaney, in his final tune-up before this weekend's Pike's Peak Ascent (an event he won in 2013), secured the overall win. Jeremy Wolf finished a couple minutes back as runner up and Mike Wolfe, back from a recent hiatus, showed that mountain biking makes good cross training by taking 3rd. Wolfe recently finished second at the Butte 100 MTB race. Among the women, 14-year-old phenom Ella Degrandpre showed that her strong performance at the Pengelly Double Dip was no fluke by finishing four minutes up on her closest follower, Missoula's Rhea Black. Degrandpre's performance was good enough for 8th overall. Missoula's Ashley Powell finished 3rd.

Bridger Ridge Run Video: This weekend marks the 31st running of the Bridger Ridge Run. In honor of last year's 30th Anniversary event, Bozeman Filmaker Erick Bendick of Grizzly Creek Films recently debuted "Wind Drinkers: 30 Years on the Bridger Ridge." Prepared in conjunction with Epic Montana, which has brought some amazing footage to Montana trail running fans over the past year, the film follows the experience of a diverse set of Ridge Runners ranging from first-timers, to multi-time champs. It also capture's MTC contributor Peder Anderson's victory. The film is available to view online in two parts here.

As for this weekend's race, there will be another deep field of athletes competing, Anderson will be back to defend his title. 10-time champ Scott Creel is entered and so is recent Devil's Backbone champ David Ayala. Also expect 2013 runner-up Adam Sepulveda to be in the mix. Course record holder Nikki Kimball is back to extend her legacy of dominance on the ridge against a field that includes 2014 4th place finisher Kaitlin Macdonald.

40th Mount Helena Run: Even older than the Ridge Run, the Mount Helena Run's 40th edition is taking place on September 12th. Helens's trail system is spectacular and this landmark race should be quite the celebration of the capital city's mountain running tradition. The race itself is actually a reenactment of a footrace that took place on the mountain 99 years ago. Not unlike the aforementioned account of the first known attempt of Mount Sentinel, the first known Mount Helena run came when a pair of local teenagers beat an athlete "from the coast" in a race up and down the town's mountain. There's a lot of history in Montana trail running. More information on the 40th Mount Helena here.

Trail Chat: Check back tomorrow for a brand new Trail Chat. This month, Nicole Hunt interviews the Runners Edge's Em Kendrick about forming the Big Dipper Running team. It's a great piece about local runners and local business working together.

Trail Runner Magazine: Speaking of Nicole Hunt, pick up September's issue of Trail Runner to read an article about her experiences as an elite athlete while raising three young boys. There's also an article in there I wrote about my Wilderness Running Project that features some great Montana running shots from Myke Hermsmeyer.

Mountain Monday: It's looking like Mountain Monday will be a go next week and we'll post something to the MTC Facebook page on Sunday if it is. Mountain Monday is MTC's long-time group run where we ascend Mount Sentinel beginning at noon at the trout statues next to Caras Park. The idea for next week is to follow Bandmann's 1889 route to the top. Should be good Rut training and 45 minutes should be doable for the ascent.

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