|Martin Miller, race director of Don't Fence Me In Trail Race. PC Dave Hagen|
Helena’s Don’t Fence Me In (DFMI) trail race, which kicks off MTC's Treasure State Trail Series, was established by Prickly Pear Land Trust 17 years ago and quickly grew to one of Montana’s premier trail races. In 2016 DFMI’s 30k, 12k and 5k attracted over 650 runners. In this month’s Trail Adventure Insights meet Martin Miller, race director of the event since its inception. Martin began running Ultras in 1990. He has completed over 90 ultramarathons from 28 miles (Quad Dipsea) to 100s (including clockwise and counter-clockwise Hardrock 100 finishes).
My relationship with Prickly Pear Land Trust started with involvement in the genesis of the Don’t Fence Me In trail running event. PPLT has done, and continues to do, a huge amount of work to establish the trail system here in the Helena area. From negotiating access to cooperating with government agencies at all levels, including trail design and maintenance, PPLT has grown a first rate trail system. As one committee member said, “We really have won the lottery here.”
at-the-time PPLT board member Kris Larson. She approached me with questions about potential course routes.
Part of the thinking about the event was to use it as a fundraiser, but it included an aspect of
showing off and celebrating the trail system. As such, when it comes to course design, I’ve
always been open to incorporating new trails and changing it up so other parts of the trail system get included. That said, I really like the 12 km course and have no plans to change it. The 12 km was added, I believe, in ’06, and the 30 km in ’08. Part of the impetus for the changes was that it had become a larger event, and PPLT wanted it to start in town for more visibility and community involvement.
|Tom Hayes running up Mt Ascension. PC Janice Miller|
I think the breadth of support from the entire trail user community is pretty unique. Casual hikers and serious mountain bikers all come out in support. The mountain biker course monitors blowing on vuvuzuelas last year made for a pretty unusual run! You can hear those things a long ways off!
|Megan Roche winner of 2016 DFMI 30k|
Speedy masters runners Debbie Gibson and Michele Bazzenella PC: Janice Miller
|Missoula's speedy ultra distance runner Milton Zhinin-Barreto|