One of the reasons for the timing of this trip was to run the Bangtail Divide 38k just outside of Bozeman. I’ve run one other race in the Bozeman area, the Jim Bridger 10 Mile with my cousin Bea a couple years ago before the family reunion. That race was stupid hard, for a flatlander, because it had 2800’ of gain in a four mile switchback section that really made those glutes burn. Well, yesterday’s race had 6 miles of switchbacks and 3600’ of gain.
It started out with a mile down a park road before turning up the mountain. When racing at elevation, I always have to keep in mind that I don’t live at elevation and most of the other runners do. The race started at 5500’ and went up over 7000’ so I wasn’t really feeling it as much as in the past. Later in the race I certainly noticed my heart rate going a bit higher than normal. I was right behind a lady with a red pack and in front of a lady with trekking poles. They were commenting that I was doing well considering, and then we were through the first aid station.
Coming in to the aid station can be a bump in spirits and this one was special. Nikki Kimball, world class ultra runner, lives in the area and I heard this voice that I recognized from her films and interviews. I turned around and sure enough, she was standing behind me with gummy bears. I don’t always acknowledge big name people but this time I had to. I said, “Nikki, you are a fucking badass.” She started laughing and I made sure to say something to the other volunteers. As I ran out of aid, they all started laughing and that was the highlight of the race.
We kept climbing for another couple miles and then went through some Alpine meadows and more climbing. Dropped down some fast switchbacks, more climbing and then a final bomb down even faster switchbacks to the end. The final four miles were downhill and I can feel it this morning.
After the race, I went back to Drew’s place and changed for the drive to Missoula. We rolled into Missoula around 4:30 and I jumped in a van with Geoff to head down to Hamilton for his gig. I’ve never had the chance to see him play with his hot swing band and we chilled out at the Bitter Root Brewery and they played a couple sets.
We got back to Missoula around 10:30 and then sacked out in the living room of Geoff and Laura’s apartment.