Treasure State Trail Series: Don't Fence Me In Preview

Plenty of big vistas await at the Don't Fence Me In Trail Runs - Credit:PPLT

Back in January, hundreds of public lands supporters gathered in Helena to speak out against a growing movement--in congress and right here in Montana--to sell off federal lands or weaken their protection. The crowd included trail runners, hunters, hikers, climbers, dog walkers, and many others who simply appreciate access to the forests and mountains so abundant in our state. A trail runner who spoke at the rally also happens to be governor. Steve Bullock proclaimed what public lands mean to us: "They’re our heritage. They’re our economy. They’re our quality of life." Indeed, as any runner that has ventured down a Montana trail knows, public lands are truly a gift. So get out there, enjoy them, defend them. This Saturday, the trail running community's attention returns to Helena where we have the opportunity to partake in a different sort of gathering celebrating public lands and open space: the Don't Fence Me In Trail Runs. It also kicks off MTC's Treasure State Trail Series and all proceeds from the event benefit the race organizer, Prickly Pear Land Trust.
Gov. Steve Bullock enjoying his public lands at the 2016 DFMI - Credit: PPLT
When Forrest Boughner first considered the idea of MTC promoting a trail series, he envisioned a collection of races that showcases the best of what Montana has to offer. So it's fitting that it all starts with DFMI. The mission of Prickly Pear Land Trust is “To inspire connections to the landscapes, water, wildlife, recreation and agricultural heritage of west-central Montana through conservation, now and for future generations.” With a handful of race distances, an open space fair, and a brewery after party with a limited edition beer brewed just for the event, DFMI has something for everyone and should be a perfect way to set the tone for the series. Between now and November when runners gather for the series finale at the Mount Jumbo Elk Ramble 15K--which happens to be a celebration of Missoula's open space and conservation lands--runners are encouraged to join us to explore Montana's landscapes. From Red Lodge to Whitefish, series participants will be racing trails set in some of the most inspiring places imaginable. (Click here for more on the series).

Credit: PPLT
Besides encouraging participants to experience Montana's open space and public lands, we expect that the series will feature great competition. The list of past DFMI champions includes some of North America's top trail runners: Megan Roche, Mike Wolfe, Jim Walmsley, Rob Krar, Megan Kimmel, to name just a few. Although defending champions Walmsley and Roche won't be back this year, there is plenty of regional talent looking to break through on Helena's South Hills Trails and hopefully build an early lead in the series. Here are a handful of individuals to be on the lookout for:

Credit: PPLT

Jenn Brewington, Missoula: 2017 Bitterroot Runoff Champ; 5th at last year's Missoula Marathon.

Amy Friedman, Missoula: 2nd at 2017 Bitterroot Runoff; 2nd at 2016 DFMI 30K; 2nd at 2016 Pengelly Double Dip.

Debbie Gibson, Helena: 5th at 2016 DFMI; 15th at 2016 Western States 100; multi-time Le Grizz 50 Champ, 2nd in 2016.

Anya Gue, Missoula: 2nd at 2013 & 2015 DFMI; 2nd at 2014 Bighorn 50m, 3rd in 2015; 2-time Bighorn 50K Champ; 9th at 2015 Rut 50K.

Leah Handelman, Missoula: 4th at 2016 DFMI; 4th at 2017 Yakima Skyline 50K; 3rd at 2016 Sun Mountain 50m.

Katie Steinberg, Jackson, WY: 2015 Park City North Face 50 Mile Champ; 2-time Bighorn 50K Champ; 6th at 2016 DFMI.
Credit: PPLT

Alan Adams, Bozeman: 3rd at 2016 Bighorn 50K; 2nd at 2016 Moab Trail Half; 5th at 2013 Rut 50K.

Forrest Boughner, Missoula: 2nd at 2017 Tillamook Burn 50K; 2nd at 2017 Behind the Rocks 30K; 2nd at 2016 Pengelly Double Dip.

Nico Composto, Missoula: Bitterroot Runoff Champ; 2017 Snow Joke Champ; 29:42 10,000m PB; NCAA Division I All-American in Cross County.

Mark Handelman, Missoula: 2013
Sentinel Hill Climb Champ; 7th at 2016 DFMI; 2:33 marathoner.

Nick Triolo, Missoula: Numerous top ultramarathon finishes, including wins at Capital Peak 50 & McDonald Forest 50K.

Jesse ZentzHelena: 4th at 2016 DFMI; 2nd at 2017 Snow Joke; 2nd at 2015 Bighorn 50K.

Dylan Zitzer, Dillon: 2016 Bighorn 50K Champ.

A special thanks goes out to all the race directors who agreed to participate in this year's series and also Altra, our presenting sponsor, which donated a generous merchandise prize purse that will reward the top finishers of the overall series five-deep, as well as those who complete the most races in the series. We'll have some other unique prizes lined up as well that we'll be announcing as the series moves forward.


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