Q&A With Chasing Squirrels #3 RD Kristina Smith

Chasing Squirrels #3 (Squirrels in the Headlamp) is the third race in a four race running series in Great Falls, as well as part of the Treasure State Trail Series. Get out your headlamps because this 6k is a night race! We caught up with Kristina Smith to ask her a few questions about this unique event.

How did you become involved in the Chasing Squirrels Series?

I found that runners around Great Falls had no idea we had such awesome trails so I wanted a way to get them more exposure. Additionally, by people taking part in the trail events, it helps to raise funds for improving, adding additional and ensuring the future for Great Falls area trails for walkers, mountain bikers and runners.

What is the Chasing Squirrels series and is there actual squirrel chasing?

The series originally developed with the thought that runners could gather points and be crowned at the end of the season as King and Queen of the series. In recent years the interest has declined, moving on to Spartan, mud runs, ultra marathons etc., thus we have changed to series to be more accommodating adding an obstacle race etc. Is there actually any squirrel chasing...depends on who your chasing. I have a sense of humor and in my observations around Great Falls we have tons of squirrels and geese (I'm not fond of geese).

It looks like each race offers something different. What makes this third one (Squirrels in the Headlamp) special?

The third race was special because it was the FIRST and ONLY trail race or any race ran in the dark here in Great Falls (that since has changed Save the Ta Ta's) is at night. Because it is several miles outside of the city limits it is very dark and makes for an exciting experience. Running at night with nothing but moon or starlight and a headlamp to guide you is cool in its own way

Great Falls often gets overlooked when people talk about trail towns in Montana, but I keep hearing, and you mentioned this spring, that the trail system and community is growing. What's happening in Great Falls?

Yes, the good news is it really has grown. I see more mountain bikers, runners and walkers than I have ever seen on the trails. These once newby trail runners are moving on to bigger adventures now like ultra running etc... I am glad we could be the platform to build that interest. In fact, when I was racing competitively I trained almost exclusively for sake of time on the North and South shore trails. These trails helped me win the State Qualifier race for Xterra Triathlon in Bozeman, which is at a much higher elevation. I also won races in other states in order to make it to the Worlds. We don't have the long grinds like you will find in Bozeman, Missoula and Helena, but what we do have is roller coaster like trails that keep your heart rate, agility, and strength up as you have to constantly adjust for turns, climbs, drops, and technical sections of trail.

Chasing Squirrels Number 3 is the shortest race in the 2017 Treasure State Trail Series. In a time when most people are looking to push the length of trail races, what does a 6k offer?

It takes people who are use to settling in for a long haul out of their comfort zone! Trust me, I would rather run a half marathon any day as apposed to a 5K length race. I hate having to work in that zone, even if it is for a short distance. Truth.... my fastest race times were based on shorter more effective training segments, not long drawn out races or runs that tear down my body down and require longer periods of recovery, which I know all of us will admit that we don't do! Fast and Furious Fun.
It should be a short, fast, and exciting race. Who should we watch out for?

It is in the dark, so I'd say watch out for the Wylie coyote, we generally have some of those hanging around in the coolies. Ok, I'm not trying to scare anyone, coyotes are more afraid of us.

Anything else you would like to add?

Race MT is a non profit and by coming out and supporting events like these it in turn goes back into our community in the way of our pools, trails and lighting projects.

Thanks Kristina! Registration is still open for Chasing Squirrels #3 at RaceMT.com.


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