Meet Director rick
Judge of the Helena Vigilante Runners
Helena Vigilante Runners
Meet Director rick Judge
hosted the seventeenth annual Montana Cup cross-country meet on
the BLM ground on the south end of the Spokane Hills.
Usage fees for BLM properties are not inexpensive at $5 per participant, and
using the sight for the meet was possible largely due to the generosity of
last year’s meet host, Run Wild Missoula, who donated $500 of their
profit back to the Montana Cup for the betterment of the event.
A warm and sunny day with very light breezes greeted runners as they arrived
to inspect the secret layout and distance of the race-course, and it was a
course that turned out to be a real bruin for runners to conquer, with
two gigantic climbs
nicely groomed 5.3 kilometers on double-track road and trail. The first hill
rose almost 150 meters in a little more than 1.2 kilometers (~12% grade),
and the second was even more steep, rising nearly as much again but in less
than a kilometer.
One of the many series
of "spirit signs" placed along the course by Team Helena.
The steep climbs and descents were cleverly marked by the meet hosts with a
series of "spirit signs" which kept runners' minds off their discomfort. One
example was a series of four signs at the beginning of the second climb near
3.5K reading "If the snot's..." "not flying..." "you're..."
"not trying!!" 208 runners tried and completed the course
before being treated to complementary chili and sliced fruit as they awaited
the announcement of results. A notable first happened at the meet. For the
first time ever there were full, scoring men's teams representing all seven
Montana cities, and six of the seven were also represented in the women's
Jennifer Straughan, Missoula’s masters
team coordinator for women, summed up Team Helena’s and
Judge’s meet directing as “completely
and totally fun and our team had a great time. You also just plain and
flat out did a great job ... lots of volunteers, signage, food, announcing,
results -- the whole package … In general, I would like to thank the Montana
Cup organizers for pursuing this mission of team running and coordinating
the whole State of Montana. It's a great thing, truly. I think
it will continue to grow and evolve into more, including your Big Sky
Straughan’s reference to the Big Sky Distance Project (BSDP)
was likely directed to the club’s plans to use this year’s Montana Cup
results as the main selection criteria for assembling open and masters
division teams to represent Montana in the
2008 USATF Club Nationals XC
meet which will be run in Spokane in December. BSDP founder
Tony Banovich of
the Kalispell team will be organizing that effort.
Women blast away from
the start of the 5.3K cross-country running course.
Judge, who normally lusts after beer, had sworn off the drink
unless and until one of Helena's teams claimed one of the six traveling
trophies at the event. Fortunately for him, Helena's masters women sliced a
razor thin, one point victory over a powerful team from Billings. Billings
masters were lead by
Sarah Keller who miraculously survived
a bone pounding tumble and subsequent trampling by the trailing runners in
the first 100 meters of the women's race. Keller was bruised, scraped, and
covered with dust, and she
regained her feet in time to see the last runners speeding
away from her. She spent the rest of the race playing catch up, a game she
played well, passing all of the masters and 68 of 81 women total on her way
to a twelfth place overall finish. That twelfth place finish was also
instrumental for Billings open-division women to win the Montana Cup by
beating out Missoula by only four points. Keller is a professor of
communications at MSU-Billings, and is better known as a triathlete who has
competed in many swim-bike-runs, including Hawaii's Ironman which she
completed in 11 hours and 14 minutes.
Great Falls' runner
Rachel Brewer is all smiles as she veers into the finish chute to win
the individual title.
In the front of the women's pack was Great Falls' Rachel Brewer. Brewer, a
native of the state of Washington, currently assists her husband Jim in
coaching the University of
Great Falls cross-country
team, and she previously ran track and cross-country for collegiate
powerhouse Northern Arizona University, where she recorded a 3000 meter
track best of 9:28. Brewer was fresh
off a sub-17 minute 5K victory in the Lewis & Clark College cross-country
meet in Lewiston, Idaho, and she used that high fitness level to take the
lead today near the one kilometer mark, and then she proceeded to stretch
her margin, building a 47 second victory over six-time previous Cup champ
Nicole Hunt of Butte. Hunt who has
returned to serious training after
giving birth to her first child by
Cesarean section on June 28th, also performed impressively in her come
back by beating the third place woman by another 54 seconds.
|The Cyppee Cups
There were two new cups up for grabs this year. A junior (19
and under) team division was added with new trophies affectionately labeled
Cups" by their creator, Jeff Thomas of Helena. Thomas, normally a stalwart
runner on Helena's team, was relegated to the role Head Scorer today due to
his recent back surgery, and he scored out
Cyppee Cup results,
with Butte's young women’s landslide (17 to 38) victory over the hosts.
Missoula's junior men also dominated, beating second place Butte 18 to 42.
The Missoula men doubled up their cup haul by winning the open division 46
to 66 over runner-up Helena. Missoula's
Matt Winter, a one-time Montana high
school champion and a former University of Montana distance man, lead
Missoula's ranks by winning the individual title in 20:04, nine seconds up
on Rocky Mountain College cross-country coach Alan King of Billings. Winter,
with feet bared after the race,
told a Helena IR reporter
“Those hills were brutal. My feet were
burning so bad coming down that last slope I couldn’t get my shoes off quick
enough when it was over.”
Bozeman's masters' team organizer John Zombro hordes the new Masters'
Cup like he owns it, and technically he does own it. Zombro created
the "Massive Cup" to replace the rusty and crusty old Masters' Cup.
Zombro's new cup quite literally dwarfs all five other cups.
Like the back surgery that sidelined Thomas, Bozeman's Master division
runner John Zombro was waylaid today with a damaged meniscus in his knee,
but he did attend the meet as the emotional leader of Bozeman's talented and
swaggering squad of masters men. Zombro, who has said that he considers his
team organizing duties to be a lifetime commitment, brilliantly forged a
group that could defend their Masters' Cup title from a year ago. Zombro was
so excited about his organizing task that he doled out his own cash to
create a bigger and better Masters Cup for men, one that he could display
with pride at his business, Zombro Physical Therapy. The new Masters
Cup is inlayed with inspiration slogans like "Conviction," "Preparation,"
and "Exhaustion," and those traits were evident today when Zombro's men
claimed an eight point victory (44 to 52) over home-standing Helena. The
announcement of Bozeman's victory in this division drew the day's most
raucous cheers as Zombro exulted in front of the large crowd of onlookers
with the massive cup hoisted high above his head.
Zombro and the rest of Bozeman's enthusiastic company will host the 2009
Montana Cup in or near Bozeman on Saturday, October 31. It promises to be
fun … and scary too … it’s on Halloween.
- Ray Hunt