2004 Montana Cup Hall of Fame
As a child, Patrick Judge was initiated into racing in the Governor’s Cup road races in Helena, and then he became more deeply involved with running at Helena High School. Judge was a varsity member of the Bengals’ exceptional 1987 cross-country team that steamrolled opponents on the way to an apparent undefeated and unchallenged season. Tragically, their season ended with a heartbreaking state championship loss in front of hometown fans.
Undeterred, Judge packed his racing spikes and moved up to the next level of racing at Colorado College. Judge found his niche and improved his running immensely at the high altitude school in Colorado Springs. Judge graduated college in Physics and shortly thereafter began graduate work in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana.
It was at UM in 1994 that Judge first became aware of the Montana Cup, and he formed an immediate bond to the event. Judge relished the opportunity to organize the Helena men’s team for the Cup, and he did so with great enthusiasm. Judge was unsuccessful in gathering a full team during his first year, but he has since reeled off 13 consecutive years with a full team. Judge’s scoring open-division teams have averaged only 66 points, and they have won the Cup in 2000 and 2004.
Helena’s first team victory must have tasted sweet to Judge, because he suffered greatly during Missoula’s seven-year stranglehold on the Cup during the 1990’s. At the heart of that Missoula team was John Hartpence, who enjoyed holding the victories over Judge’s head, literally.
Shortly after the 1996 Cup, Hartpence and company invited Judge to celebrate Thanksgiving in Hartpence’s home. Judge was clandestinely seated for dinner on the spot directly under the Montana Cup trophy’s roost. At the end of dinner, Judge finally relented to the suspense and asked where the cup was hidden. Unhalting and jolly laughter filled the room when Judge finally realized his predicament.
Individual Cup titles have eluded Judge, but he has finished second three times. Judge’s individual places did drop off slightly in 2001 after he was inhibited by Graves’ Disease.
Although Judge’s Cup race performances have been excellent, his greatest contributions to the Montana Cup may have come as an innovator. In 2000 and 2001 Judge directed the Montana Cup in Helena, and it was during this time that the Cup matured into the event that we know today. Judge and his organizing committee established an intricate blue print for subsequent groups to follow when hosting the Cup.
The most visible part of Helena’s plan was to supply unique colored jerseys with an official Montana Cup logo for each team. Judge, an idealist, financed the jerseys out of his own pocket because he refused to denigrate the jerseys with multiple sponsor names. Entry fees were then set just high enough to pay for the cost of the jerseys. Two years of impassioned work yielded not one cent for Judge’s philanthropistic group. But it did profit others, and all future Cup runners are indebted.
In his own words: "For me, the Montana Cup is the perfect event, combining all of the things I love most about running: challenging courses and competition (on both the individual and team level), camaraderie with runners of all ages and abilities from all across Montana, and the chance to explore the state's varied and majestic landscapes. Many thanks to Ray [Hunt] for hatching the whole splendid affair years ago, and for nurturing it into its magnificent modern form. This race has given us precious meaning in an otherwise crazy universe. Go Blue!"