MTC Weekly News: 8/10/16

Recapping another big week of racing and offering up a quick preview of this weekend's Bridger Ridge Run:
Jim Walmsley, shown here in his first trail race--the 2013 Don't Fence Me In 12K, has since become one of the top trail runners in the country. This weekend he returns to test himself on Montana's most iconic mountain run, the Bridger Ridge Run.  Photo Credit: Dylan Brown - Independent Record

Snowbowl 15K

For the second year in a row the Snowbowl 15K, put on by the Runners Edge, featured competitive fields and Mike Foote's famous huckleberry aid station. Ascending the "Beargrass Highway" at Missoula's local ski mountain, the race covered around 2000 feet of climb and descent. Several of the "usual suspects" battled it out for top honors. For the second big event in a row, Polson's Cynthia Arnold (1:13:02) took the win among the ladies with Deer Lodge's Nicole Hunt in 2nd (1:15:09) and high school phenom and 2015 champ Ella Degrandpre in 3rd (1:19:16). For the men, Polson's Jason Delaney (1:06:29) repeated as champion and turned the tables on runner-up Forrest Boughner (1:07:28) who had bettered him at the recent Sentinel Hill Climb. 18 year-old Danny Provo of Missoula added some youth to the podium by coming across the line in 1:08:32. Full Results Here.

Big Mountain Run

The 34th Annual Big Mountain Run took place on it's namesake slopes high above Whitefish. The race ascends the locally famous Danny On Trail where former Sentinel Hill Climb champ and Helena resident Mark Handelman kept his title of King of the Mountain for a second year in a row by covering 3.8 miles and nearly 2,500 vertical feet in 37:53. Joe Swartz took 2nd in 45:27 and 12 year-old Jacob Henson finished 3rd in 46:14. Youth ruled among female finishers with Anya Young, age 15, winning in 52:25 followed by Kayla Kolpitcke, age 14, in 53:18. Susan Armstrong rounded out the podium in 58:20. Full Results Here.

HURL Elkhorn Endurance Runs

50 Miles: The Elkhorn might be Montana's toughest 50 miler and this year just 25 runners of 38 starters finished. Anthony Pavkovich came across the line first in 11:01:13. Justin Shobe took 2nd in 11:30:21 and Milton Zhinin-Barreto rounded out the podium in 11:49:00. Nikki Grossberg scored a solid win in 12:56:57, over an hour up on 2nd place Briann Hockett (14:18:09). Tomoko Ueno finished 3rd in 14:39:14.

50K: Runners in the 50K fared much better in making it across the finish line with all 60 starters plus 5 additional 50 milers who switched distance mid-race recording finishes for a perfect 100 percent completion rate. Of those, Kenneth O'donnell took top honors in 6:36:49. Karson Klass came in 2nd in 6:41:47 and Ryan Lundin 3rd in 6:51:11. Women's champ Debbie Isen finished in a close 4th overall in 6:54:17 followed immediately by runner-up Maya Von Wodtke in 7:01:58. Blair Speed took 3rd in 7:47:35.

30K: Alex Street scored a solid 30K win in 2:21:51 followed by Patrick Butlin in 2:39:21 and Buzz Walton close behind in 2:40:41. The battle for top honors among the women was much closer with Mikaela Howie getting the win in 2:46:52 and taking 4th overall. Amy Heilig finished right behind in 2:47:59. Keegan Rumsey came in 3rd in 2:49:51.

Full Results Here.

Coming Up:

Bridger Ridge Run: If there was ever a year to hype up the Bridger Ridge Run, this is it. Jim Walmsley has taken the trail running world by a storm this past year. He was a dominant force on Montana trails during his short time living here and he already holds a course record in the Bridger Range with his 2014 Old Gabe victory. The big question is can he take down Mike Wolfe's course record and break the 3 hour mark? The Ridge Run is over 30 years old and nobody has ever accomplished the feat. Walmsley is a force on all terrain, but has much less experience on the technical terrain that defines the ridge. His leg speed and endurance are top notch though, so it could be enough. A Walmsley victory is expected, but certainly not guaranteed. Giving chase will be Bozeman's Ted Farley. Those of us that follow these things know that Ted, the 2015 Old Gabe 25K Champ, was well on his way to throwing down a very fast Ridge Run time in last year's race before making a wrong turn and jogging it in. He proved what he's capable of at The Rut a month later when he redeemed himself by finishing 5th overall and qualifying for the U.S. Mountain Running Team. Like Farley, David Ayala, is a driving force in Bozeman's burgeoning trail running scene. The 2015 Ridge Run Champ, he recently set a course record at the Devil's Backbone 50, knocking a big chuck off the former record he shared with Seth Swanson. Here's a pretty cool Trail Runner piece on him. Other men who'll be in the mix are former MSU standout Seth Garbett, Bozeman's Chase Parnell, and Mark Handelman fresh off of his Big Mountain win, Among the women look out for Emily Allison who just won the Bangtail Divide 38K, former Ridge Run Champ Minde Erickson is in, and 2013 Champ and 2015 runner-up Kaitlin Macdonald is also racing. 

Other events, etc.: Livingston is hosting it's Trails RX 5K. There are probably a few more races happening that I'm missing. If so, let us know about them. Good luck to everyone racing.

Finally, check out this great Missoulian piece by Justin Grigg on RATBOB 2016 featuring some amazing images. Check back with MTC in the coming weeks for another story on this year's run.  

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