Runner of the Month – July 2017

Leah Handelman is a familiar face towards the front of races in the Montana trail racing scene. She recently followed up her win at the Don’t Fence Me In 30k with a first place finish at the Bighorn 52 mile run in Wyoming. She is also currently the female leader in the Treasure State Trail Series.

Name: Leah Handelman

Age: 32

Hometown: Whitefish, MT

How did you get into running?  I actually got into running as a way to relieve stress and anxiety and to keep an overly energetic dog happy.   My Dad, an avid runner and former Marine, got me into racing by convincing me to do the Big Mountain trail run almost 10 years ago and by then I was officially hooked.

What is your favorite run around Missoula?  I love Mt Jumbo because the lack of year round accessibility keeps it wild. When it’s open, one my favorite loops is up and over Jumbo via the “L” trail or switchbacks into Woods  Gulch.

What’s next on your running calendar? So far, I’m looking forward to RATBOB in July, some TBD  Montana trail series races throughout the summer, and the North Face 50 miler in Park City, in September.

Tell us about Bighorn: Mud, mud, and more mud. But seriously, it was a great lesson in patience.  Initially I was caught up in the  excitement and temptation to push it in the first few miles, but after wiping out in cold, wet mud for the tenth or eleventh time I made the decision to hold back a bit, save some energy, and “race my own race.” In the end, it paid off, and I had the stamina to make-up for any lost time when the mud (finally) subsided.

Congratulations on a strong start to the 2017 trail season, Leah! Keep up the good work. 

Runners of the Month: June 2017

Runner’s of the Month – Ken, Erin, and Erin

Ken O’Donnell, Erin Forde, and Erin Williams are three new employees at Runner’s Edge. We are happy to have them on board and hope you can swing by and say hi!

Name: Ken O’Donnell, Erin Forde, Erin Williams

How long have you been in Missoula? 
K- Since January 2016
EF- Three years, yay Mountains!
EW- “I was born and raised in Missoula, Montana. I am fifth generation Montanan. My state love runs deep.”

How many years have you been running?
K- 10 Years
EF- 11 years, since middle school
EW- 10 Years, since sophomore year at Hellgate

Are you training for anything in particular?
K-  “What I’m really training for is good health and the ability to stay extremely active for the rest of my life.”
EF- “My husband and I are going to run our first Missoula Half Marathon.”
EW- “Ski season! And I am going to be using our glorious summer to get ready for the Rut 28k.”

What is your favorite local race?
 K- Catch ‘Em If You Can 5K (editor’s note: now Heartthrob 5k)
EF- Turkey Trot with family and friends
EW- I love the Blue Mountain 30k

What is your do you enjoy most about the local running community?
K- “Everyone seems to love running AND beer!”
EF- “Everyone is so welcoming! It’s always intimidating starting a new job or run with new people, but you all sure have made the transition super easy! 🙂 I’ve had so much fun meeting people that enjoy being outside and having a blast while running.”
EW- “I continue to be tickled by the accessibility to support, and motivation for each other. I am so grateful and excited to help strengthen this community and their love of movement and running.”

What is your best running memory?
K- “On Christmas I went for a run in the morning when it was still dark and there was a fresh layer of snow everywhere and the air just had that feeling to it that only a frigid, dark winter morning has. I was running out of town and even though all I could hear was the crunch of snow underfoot, the sound of my breathing and the constant wind, I could still sense the lights from town and that buzz of electricity. Then the presence of town and the hum of all the fridges, lights and obnoxious speakers at the Maverick gas station suddenly stopped! I turned around and saw that almost the entire city had lost power! It was so dark and so quiet! It was as if the city had disappeared and I was looking out from this big hill at a vast, empty, dark place where no people lived. I ran home in the dark and the silence and being there no streetlights where I was, fortunately for me, there wasn’t a soul out driving around at that time on Christmas morning.”
 EF- “Hopefully it will be the half marathon I run with my Hubby! Otherwise the 5k beer run because there’s a free beer at the end! :)”
EW- “In February 2016, I ran up Ben Lomond Peak in Queenstown, NZ. We ran up into a Hallmark sunset. The ascent was roughly two and a half Mount Sentinels stacked with more curves, flowers, and once domesticated goats. We went out hard. Every time I reminisce I am just unbelievably grateful for the exposure running can provide to a place.


Runners of the Month: May 2017

Jen and Jana Jackson (daughter and mother) are some of our favorite ladies in town. The family owns KornUtopia, the specialty popcorn boutique in Missoula, and they are always so kind in donating popcorn to our RE events. Read below to find out more.

Name: Jen / Jana

Age: 36 / 59

Hometown: Frenchtown, MT / Born in Tucson, AZ and have lived in Missoula for 20 years.

Age You Started Running/Walking/Exercising: I started running cross country my sophomore year of high school. / I started walk/running in 2011 when our daughter Jen who has been a runner since high school, talked her dad and I into listening to Jeff Galloway introduce the Galloway walk/run method and start training for the Missoula half marathon.  Since then I have been hooked.  I met some women in the group in 2012  that inspire me daily, as two of them are cancer survivors.  Since then, we meet two mornings durning the week and every Sunday rain or shine and walk/run.

What Motivates You to Get Out the Door? I run because it makes me feel better physically, but it also does wonders for me mentally. / My motivation is knowing that there are others waiting to do the same thing.  I think we all keep each other going.  I also feel great when we are done.

Do You Prefer Walking With Friends or Solo? Both. During the week I enjoy running by myself.  I don’t have to worry about how fast or slow I’m going and I can let my mind wander.  On Sundays I love going out with my mom and her friends.  They’re a good bunch to go with because they show up no matter what and they always have fun.  Rain, snow, sleet or shine, you can bet they’ll be there at 6:45am. / I prefer to go out with by buddies.

Favorite Food: Definitely pizza. / My favorite food would have to be Mexican!

Favorite Activity Outside of Exercising: I love to golf! / Outside of excersising, time spent with family is the best.

Words of Wisdom: I’ve never felt worse after a run than before I went. / It is obvious with me that it is never too late to start something new.

We always have great things to say about the staff and owners of Runner’s Edge as they make every runner & walker, of all shapes and sizes, feel empowered.     (Thanks ladies!)

Runner of the Month: April 2017

Name: Keith FichtnerHalf Marathon Finish 2013

Age: 40

Hometown:  Big Timber and living in Missoula since 2001

Age You Started Running: 35

Why Did You Start Running?  Two reasons.  1.) I was 230 pounds and in desperate need of exercise and a change of lifestyle.  2.) My sister-in-law Leslie Finch joined the Run Wild group to train for the Missoula half marathon and wanted someone to do it with her so I said I would join her. 

Biggest Difference You Noticed When You Started Running:  How quickly you can drop weight.  Also how well it has kept my asthma in check.

What Keeps You Motivated?  So many things. Number one is my wife Lynda and kids Ethan & Olivia. Wanting to be around for them long term and setting an example of being active. Courtney Babcock’s Key Running group also keeps me motivated. Her speed work classes have done wonders for me.  Other people in my life are inspiring like my brother and sister-in-law Lisa and Andy Edelstein; they started running in their late forties and early fifties. Both are now doing marathons around the world including Paris and NYC.

Best Part/Worst Part of Running:  Sometimes just the thought of going is the worst part. The best part is our location in Missoula and the running community. I enjoy running in the Rattlesnake area, on the Kim Williams trail, around the University, and down Mullan Road. I really enjoy the people including my brother-in-law, Dan Finch. It’s our time to catch up on what’s happening with our kids, work, and our wives (who are twins!). I also like the group I’ve met through Courtney Babcock’s training class – too many names to mention, but all are wonderful people and inspiring runners.

What Is Your Favorite Hobby? Probably a tie right now between running and golf.

Words of Wisdom: You’re never too old or too heavy to start running.  Take it one day and one step at a time – the hardest part is day one.

Runner/Walker of the Month: March 2017

Jane & Frank are part of the new walking group that meets at the Runners Edge under leader John Pitcairn. They’re a pleasure to be around and have committed to make health a central part of their lifestyle. Thank you, Frank & Jane, for being a part of our community! For more info on the walking group, please click HEREFrankandJanehalf.201307.

Name: Jane Kisselbach / Frank Kisselbach

Age: 75 / 75

Hometown: Missoula, Montana. We moved from Cherry Hill, NJ 13 years ago.

Age You Started Running/Walking/Exercising: Always exercised to some degree, but never trained or entered races until age 62. / I was 16 when I earned my Hiking merit badge in Boy Scouts. Very little walking/exercising until we moved to Missoula in 2013 (age 62).

What Motivates You to Get Out the Door? We have 4 grandchildren (ages 5-9) and I don’t ever want to tell them I can’t do something they want me to do. The other motivator is being part of the Youth Homes Run for Kids Team each year and helping the kids have a better life. / Our Missoula peers and Jane.

Do You Prefer Walking With Friends or Solo? With friends / With friends

Favorite Food: Tortilla chips or any other salty snack. / Scrapple and eggs or corned beef hash and eggs

Favorite Activity Outside of Exercising: Attending rock concerts. I’m a rock concert junkie. Def Leppard rules!! / Active in Boy Scouts of America (50 year involvement). I am also an amateur radio operator (Ham).

Words of Wisdom: Getting older is mandatory; growing up is optional and I choose to never grow up. / Be prepared (Boy Scout Motto). I wasn’t prepared for a temperature in the low 40’s, rain, and strong wind when walking the Portland Marathon in October 2016. I got pulled around mile 17 with hypothermia.

Anything Else You’d Like to Add: “Participating in RWM walking training classes over the years has been wonderful. We’ve learned a lot and made many friends in these groups. I would never have been able to complete a full marathon (Portland Marathon in October 2016) if not for the support and encouragement from these groups. Doing a full marathon would have remained a bucket list item for me forever”. -Jane

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!