Participants were met with temps pushing the 70s and loads of sunshine for the 2021 Mt. Sentinel Hill Climb. Rolling starts helped to spread people out, as racers left the M trailhead anytime between 5pm and 6:30pm. After collecting themselves at the top from a big effort up Sentinel, people migrated downhill to enjoy a mug full of Big Dipper ice cream. Thanks to all that came out and made it a special day running trails in Missoula! And a special thanks to the volunteers out doing trail work on the M Trail!
Special congrats to Kris Brown and Katrina Miller on getting engaged at the M on their warm-down after the race!
There was a lot of speculation prior to the race of what would happen between Hoka ONE ONE trail runner Erin Clark and perennial master’s champion Nicole Murray. Murray came into this race with 6 of the 10 fastest times ever posted on the hill climb route, with a personal best of 24:46, and a win at the 2019 event and 2020 Treadmill Challenge. Clark came to the hill climb as an 11-time Division I All American and former pro track runner who is seeing tremendous success in longer trail races. But could she handle the steep grade and rocky trail on Sentinel?
Out of the gate, there was a surprise with Michelle Hiland nabbing the $50 M premium in 7 minutes and 40 seconds (the fastest women’s time to the M on Strava). As the trail steepened, Hiland faded back and passed the lead off to Clark, with Murray in hot pursuit. Clark hammered the ridge, working hard to hold off a charging Murray. Clark took the win in a speedy 25:32, the 7th fastest women’s time ever posted on the Hill Climb route. Clark never breathed easy, as Murray made it to the summit a mere 8 seconds behind Clark in 25:40. Hiland finished third in 27:13.
Top 5 Women:
- Erin Clark (Hoka ONE ONE) – 25:32.97
- Nicole Murray – 25:40.93
- Michelle Hiland – 27:13.51
- Heather Brooks (La Sportiva) – 28:33.95
- Katy Robin-Garten – 28:58.41
Men’s Race – New Record!
Adam Peterman, trail runner for Hoka ONE ONE and Hill Climb Race Director, came into this race as the clear favorite. Peterman boasted the fastest known time on the Hill Climb route in 18:39 from 2019. But professional and Olympic mountain biker Howard Grotts ran the Sentinel ridge in 19:50 last week. Could Grotts take down Peterman come race day? This question hung in the air as the gun went off and the most stacked field in Sentinel Hill Climb history charged up the M trail.
Former North Dakota State track athlete Grady Anderson led most of the climb up the M in a Hail Mary attempt at snatching the $50 M premium. But Peterman didn’t yield, and blazed by him to grab the premium in 6:05 (second fastest M Trail climb only to Grotts’ 6:04 from earlier this month). Peterman stormed ahead, growing the gap between himself, Grotts, and the rest of the field. Running every single step of the way, Peterman crossed the line in 18:31, an astonishing new course record and fastest known time. Grotts was second place in 19:25. It should be noted that Grotts’ time is the fastest ever run outside of Peterman’s former record. Rounding out the top 3 was Peterman’s fellow Hoka ONE ONE teammate Kris Brown in 20:35.
This was the most competitive men’s field ever assembled for the Sentinel Hill Climb. Thirteen men ran under 24 minutes. The top 5 were all well under 22 minutes.
Top 5 Men:
- Adam Peterman (Hoka ONE ONE) – 18:31.26
- Howard Grotts (Specialized) – 19:25.72
- Kris Brown (Hoka ONE ONE) – 20:35.44
- Jeff Mogavero – 21:10.13
- Monte Cole – 21:40.98
Results and History
Full results for the 2021 event, as well as all former Hill Climbs, are available at Competitive Timing’s website here.
Photos by Seth Orme will be available soon. Stay tuned!
Top 10 women’s and men’s times were compiled by Tim Mosbacher in this 2019 post for the Montana Trail crew: http://www.montanatrailcrew.com/2019/05/tims-lists-mount-sentinel-hill-climb.html
Thank you to our sponsors for making this event possible! We had Sapphire Physical Therapy‘s own John Fiore out marking the course, Kiefer and Rhea of Momentum Athletic Training handing out the cash premiums, Altra Running at the base with demo shoes, Hammer Nutrition during the race, and Big Dipper Ice Cream after.