Runner of the Month: February 2017


Name: Amelia Hagen-Dillon

Age: 30

Hometown: Middlesex, VT. I came to Montana for a summer job in 2007 and lived in Missoula since 2009.

Why Did You Start Running? (and Why Do You Continue?): I started running my senior year in high school. I was having a rough year and one of my teachers was a marathon runner and suggested I train for a half marathon with her. Completing that race I felt so strong and empowered. Since then running has been my most valuable coping skill for dealing with the ups and downs in life. I ran one season of track in college but I didn’t love the structure or competition. Mostly I just like to get out on the trails every day and if I feel good I go faster and if I don’t feel great I walk! When my husband Jamie and I started Cairn Cartographics in 2010 we started spending our summers GPS-ing trails. At first we were mostly hiking but I missed running in the summer so I started throwing more runs into the mix. Since we transitioned to me doing the majority of the fieldwork by myself in 2015 I mostly run* with some backpacking thrown in. unnamed-1

*I’ve really fallen in love with moving as quickly and efficiently as possible through the landscape – I call it running but there is a lot of hiking involved!

Group Runs or Solo Runs? I do most of my running with my dog Piper. It doesn’t matter if we are going on a three mile jog around the neighborhood and it’s sleeting or a twenty mile day in the mountains, Piper is always ready and excited. I try to embody her example of enthusiasm every day. I also love running with human friends. It took me a really long time to feel like I had a community and good friends in Missoula. When I look back, one of the main turning points was joining the RWM marathon training class in 2013. This led to other group runs (on trails!) and now I have a solid group of friends I can count on to be up for a running adventure.

Favorite Race or Run: How to pick a favorite! I loved running the trails in the Pintlers when I was working on that map; there are so many beautiful ridge lines to explore! For races I love the Bridger Ridge Run and Runner’s Edge’s Eleven Miles to Paradise. The trails in Missoula are like good friends – I feel like I have to go check in with the ones I haven’t seen in a while.

Favorite Food Pre-Run & Post-Run: Pre run: coffee and a ProBar before a big run. I’m pretty slow in the morning so something I don’t have to prepare is good! Post run: Burger and a beer. If I have a long drive home after a run I leave a bag of Barbaras Jalapeño Cheese puffs and ginger ale in the car for the drive home from the trailhead.

What’s Your Favorite Hobby? I love to read – news, essays, novels, everything. I also love cooking and messing around in my garden.

Miles Run Per Week: This time of year with this weather 20-25. I’ve been spending a lot more time on skis than in running shoes lately! In the summer during field work season it gets up to 50-60.

Currently Training For: Summer! Not sure where I’ll be working yet this summer but it will definitely include a lot of time of the trails. I also like to sign up for at least one 20-30 mile race every summer. I’m not very competitive with but I do like having a goal to work towards. I haven’t decided on a race for 2017 yet so I’m open to suggestions!

Words of Wisdom: It is a privilege to choose the way you suffer. I remind myself this all the time when days get long and things start to hurt.

Anything Else You’d Like To Add: I feel so lucky to live in a place with such a wonderful community of inspiring and adventurous runners. Thank you Missoula!

Runner of the Month: January 2017


Babak is one of those runners in Missoula that sometimes flies under the radar. But what an amazing guy. He’s not only passionate about this sport, but is positive, friendly, and makes everyone feel welcome. Read on to find out more about Babak and his recent win at the infamously famous “Big’s Backyard Ultra” where he won after running 29 laps that were 4+ miles loops.  babak1

Name: Babak Rastgoufard

Age: 43

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Age You Started Running: I was probably around 27 when I started running on a semi-regular basis, but at that time running wasn’t something I did very consistently. It took several years and was a slow evolution before running became a normal part of my life.

Miles Run Per Week: It varies quite a bit. In the summer, I might top out around 60 miles.

Favorite Hobby: Running and baking.

Do You Prefer to Train Solo or With a Group? Both. It’s good to mix things up.

Race Distance Of Choice: 50 miles or 100k

Why Did You Start Running: In 2001, I decided I wanted to try running a marathon. Before that, I would run off and on, but probably never more than 4 miles at a time. I came up with a plan and had fun at that marathon, which was on an old towpath between Cleveland and Akron. It didn’t take long to realize that I preferred running on trails, and so when I moved to Missoula in 2009, running became a good way to explore new areas, or even see the same trail change from week to week, season to season.

Favorite Run: Up the front of Mount Sentinel and down Smoker-Jumper. I especially like Smoker-Jumper since the trees and plants change so much from season to season and even from the top, where it’s slightly cooler, to the bottom.

Favorite Food Pre-Race & Post-Race: (1) Pre-race: dates and almonds the morning of a race. (2) Post-race: a beer and some cookies or cake are always a nice way to finish a day.

Words of Wisdom: From Ed Anacker, “To finish is to win”.

Tell us about “Big’s Backyard Ultra”: For those who aren’t familiar with the race, it’s a pretty simple format. Starting at 7am, you have one hour to finish a 4.166667 mile loop. Those who finish in under hour then run another loop at 8am, and then at 9am, and so on, until there’s only one runner left. If you don’t finish within an hour, or aren’t at the starting line at the top of the hour, you’re out. I told a few people about it and most said it sounded like torture or very boring. However, I was really drawn to the idea because it presents a huge mental challenge. For starters, you don’t even know how long, or many loops, you need to run. Also, at other races, the challenge likely is going to be the course itself and/or the other runners in your age group, or at your pace. With Big’s though, the loop is fairly moderate — it has a few ups and downs, but is very runnable. Also, it makes zero difference if you finish the loop in 29 minutes or 59 minutes — at the end of each loop, everyone who finishes in under an hour is tied for first place. So, the challenge really is internal, more so than any other race. My goal was to find an easy pace and, more than anything else, stick with that pace and be consistent with each loop. That’s what I did and, somehow, after 29 laps I was the last man standing. Everyone who finished at least one loop got a small medal that said, “I tried.” I got the same medal, except mine said, “I survived.”

Runner of the Month: December 2016


Name: Marlys Gillenmarlys-gillen

Age: 59

Hometown: Olivia, Minnesota

Age You Started Running: 54

What Motivates You: Trying to beat my previous best!

Favorite Movie: Eddy the Eagle

Favorite Thing to Eat Pre-Run: Coffee and Toast

Favorite Thing to Eat Post-Run: Fruit and Yogurt

Currently Training for: Bloomsday (May); Missoula Half-Marathon (July)

Favorite Race or Run: In state – Bitterroot Trail Run 5 Miler (2016); Out of state – World’s Fastest 5k (Carlsbad, CA 2014)

Favorite Hobby: Reading Autobiographies

Why did you start running? I started running for health reasons. I was hit by a snowmobile 40 years ago when I was 14 and at the time never realized how that would impact the rest of my life with chronic foot pain. About eight years ago I was told by an orthopedic doctor that I would need full foot reconstructive surgery and not to do anything high impact as it could rupture my Achilles. However, I refused to have surgery and after trying other treatments was encouraged by my brother to start running (which I wasn’t supposed to do). First a block, then around the block, a mile and then two, three and four. Up and down the M and hills around Missoula and three half-marathons later my foot pain was subsiding. Running was stretching my Achilles, increasing my vertical flexibility, building muscles and giving me the mobility in my foot I hadn’t had for years and at the same time lowering my blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Although I still have arthritis in those joints and bone spurs my doctor encourages me to keep moving. I will eventually need to have the bone spurs removed and the joints fused in my foot but for now I’m enjoying every running day I have!

Anything else you’d like to add: Never stop believing in yourself and once you finally realize you’re a runner pass on your story, inspiration and encouragement to other new runners. And I would like to give a shout out to my brother Roger Schultes for encouraging me to start running, Mary Pat Malerk who encouraged me as a beginner and Jenny Newton who makes me faster!

Words of Wisdom: As you get older eat less, move more!

Runners of the Month: November 2016


Name: Rog / Amy Lewis

Age: 69 / 58

Hometown: Mechanicsburg / Springfield (both Ohio)

Age You Started Running:  66 / 53

Favorite Race or Run: There is nothing better than the RUT Mountain Runs.

Favorite Thing to Eat for Dinner: One of the most important reasons to run is to eat bacon and/or drink IPA beer without guilt. 

What Inspires You to Run? Each other and knowing that our activity probably contributed to one of us still being alive.

Favorite Hobby: Being with each other and enjoying the next step of the journey.

Words of Wisdom: Life’s an incredible experience, treasure every moment.thumbnail_img_2273

Runner of the Month: October 2016


Name: Daisy Kesel

img_0977-094707Age: 47

Hometown: San Francisco but have now lived in Missoula for 45 years

Currently Training For: Overindulging on tacos and helping my daughter train for Run Wild Missoula’s Diva Day and Pumpkin Run

Miles Run Per Week: 20-30

Favorite Race: 11 Miles to Paradise

Favorite Thing to Eat For Dinner: Tacos

When Did You Start Running and Why?  I really started running 3 years ago. My brother posted something about a Biggest Loser Half Marathon; I signed up and did it. I had two teens in the house and needed to do something for me. Also, I really love to eat. Plus running makes me feel bad A$%, especially in the winter.

What Motivates You to Run? New shoes and I love catching up with my running gals.

What’s the Best Thing About Running? It has brought me together with some of the most interesting ladies.  There is something special about catching up with a friend on a 14 mile run then being able to stand in the driveway when done with more to talk about.

Words of Wisdom: Always buy good shoes and a good jog bra. The customer service at The Runners Edge is so good. They will help you with anything. I think Tim (at RE) would let me borrow anything; he is a “yes” man.

Anything Else You’d Like to Add: Don’t ever be intimidated by the hard core running community we live in. Everyone started. It is scary to be the new guy, but this community is so welcoming and we will suck you in.

Runner of the Month: September 2016


Name: Audrey Peterson (pictured here, third from left)7089_4607148314065_8255934619457864976_n

Age: 25+30 (does that look better than 55 :-) )

Hometown: Glendive, MT

Where Do You Currently Live? Missoula, MT

Miles Run Per Week: Try to get at around 20. Hiking and biking keep me busy too.

What Age Did You Start Running: 49.5. Sports have always been a part of my life but I was looking for a change of pace for my 50’s and running seemed like an option and something I hadn’t done before.

Currently Training For: Fernie Half Marathon

Best Part Of Running: Hands down – the people! I had no idea that Missoula was such a great running community with some of the most encouraging and inspirational people I have met. The added bonus of maintaining physical and mental health through running is great too.

Run Solo or Group Run? Like to run with a group but sometimes the solitude of a solo run is great to have.

Favorite Run: My first Missoula Half Marathon, a close second would be Moab’s Trail Half Mararthon

Favorite Dessert: Something chocolate based… I am not too picky on my desserts, I will try about anything!

Favorite Thing to Do Besides Running: Spend time with my 2 girls and friends, hiking, biking, and basically enjoying the great outdoors.