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.
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.