First off, why run the Hardrock 100? Can you explain what it is to those that may not know?

In 2018, I ran a Hardrock qualifier (Bighorn 100) to apply for the HR lottery. Why? Hardrock is absolutely dreamy and terrifying all at the same time! The vert (33,000 ft of gain), the views, the history, the community, the altitude…it’s everything you could ever want!

How did you start ultrarunning?

I went to the Wilma for the Trail Running Film Festival and saw a short doc about The Rut 50K…next thing I know, I’m DNF’n The Rut 50K in Big Sky, haha! The rest is history.

Hardrock was cancelled due to snow in 2019, cancelled due to COVID in 2020, and is finally happening in 2021! You’ve had three tries at preparing for the race. What have you done similar and different? What has your training looked like this year?

Fortunately, I’ve had my coach (Gabe Joyes – 4th @ HR in 2017) for the entirety of this rollercoaster. My training has been pretty consistent with his guidance but has evolved with more experience. I will say that I’m now embracing the importance of pacing and nutrition. It truly does make/break your race experience!

You have a wild story for how you got into Hardrock off of one ticket and then multiple race cancellations since you got in. Can you give us the full story?

I ran and finished Bighorn 100 in 2018, was selected from the HR lottery in December of 2018 and was supposed to run the race July 2019. Well, June of 2019 came around and they cancelled it due to avalanche activity on the course. As a result, I ran Palisades 100 in 2019 instead.

The HR organization rolled over everyone selected in the lottery from 2019 to 2020. As we all know, 2020 rocked the universe and thus another HR cancellation!

So, the HR organization decided that anyone who was selected from the 2019 lottery (that had never raced HR) was allowed to run the 2021 race. Everyone else, who has ran the race before, was out.

To say the least, I feel VERY lucky that I still get to toe the line to and experience HR!

What’s your advice to someone that hears “100 miler” and thinks “I can’t do that!”?

Listen, I was a basketball player….ANYONE CAN RUN 100 MILES! You just have to make up your mind and put in the work.

What was your biggest challenge while preparing for Hardrock?

Staying dedicated to the training and the process for three years, absolutely. Luckily Missoula has been THE best support throughout the entirety of the training and I am grateful for that time.

What are your goals for the race?

Celebrate Heather and finish the dang thing!

What are your biggest reservations heading into the race?

I’m quite nervous about the lightning…also, I have no idea how 14,000 feet will feel haha!

What are you most excited for during the race?

Kissing that rock!

How can folks follow along from home?

Hardrock100.com

Events with thousands of runners can use a lot of cups. That’s why all of our events are cup-less! Photo: Votography Images

Sustainability at the Runner’s Edge

At the Runner’s Edge, we care about the planet. Like you, we love playing outside and enjoying the incredible outdoor opportunities in Missoula. We take pride in our commitment to environmental initiatives in store, at events, and with the brands that we carry. We are continually striving to reduce waste in store and support brands that treat the world how we want it to be treated.

Supporting Brands that Care

Ashley sporting our new RE-branded t-shirts from Saucony. Made from 70% recycled polyester!

The apparel industry is one of the biggest global contributors to climate change. But, as consumers you can make choices that reduce the impact of the apparel you purchase. As a store, the Runner’s Edge tries to make these choices as easy possible. Apparel buyer Vicky Mix says she “has focused on purchasing sustainable products” in recent years. What does this mean? “I check the company’s mission, what efforts are they doing, and if it fits for us, that’s where we’re gonna go!”. The result is that most of the apparel in our store is made from recycled polyester!

Did you know?
The Runner’s Edge carries Perspective Fitwear. This lady’s clothing company uses Good Human Tech™ fabric that incorporates an innovative landfill-degradable technology that enables pieces to fully decompose in 3 years. Don’t worry- this doesn’t impact the quality or durability of pieces while they’re worn! Drop by the store to check them out!

Shoes and the Fit Process

Have you ever noticed what we do with the cardboard inserts that come out of your shoes when helping you find the perfect pair of sneakers? We place all box/shoe stuffings and papers in a bin to be sorted into recyclables and non-recyclables. By doing this, we can drastically reduce the amount of waste we throw in our dumpster each day. And the shoes we have? The Runner’s Edge makes it clear to brands that we want to carry shoes with recycled content made in a way that limits their impact on the environment. The Saucony Endorphin Speed will soon sport 100% recycled polyester in the entire upper material, and recycled content in almost every other part of the shoe. In 2019, the use of recycled polyester in Hoka ONE ONE shoes diverted approximately 14,900,000 bottles from landfills, saving 19.1 million MegaJoules (MJs) of energy, 220.2 million gallons of water, and over 2 million pounds of carbon dioxide (source). We are excited to continue supporting brands that strive to reduce their environmental impact. 

Upcycled, reusable bags made from extra event t-shirts. Heck yeah!

No More Plastic Bags!

A few months ago, we ran out of plastic bags at the store. We knew our customers would occasionally need a way to carry a collection of running goodies. We got creative and decided to upcycle year’s of extra race t-shirts into reusable bags! Lisa Walser hand makes every bag. Read more here. Please leave these bags for customers who are in a pinch and forgot a bag. The best thing you can do to help us (and the planet!) is to bring your own bag or opt out of a bag. If you do take one of our reusable bags, please reuse it as much as possible. You can even bring it back so we can offer it to another customer!

 

Shoe Donations

Shoe donation box alongside the bin we use to collect recyclable shoe inserts

Every few weeks, we pack up a big box of many dozens of used shoes to send off to the MORE Foundation Group. What happens to those shoes? According to the MORE Foundation Group, “proceeds regenerate forests and jump start small farming co-ops in needy regions.” They utilize a “value added, multi-faceted approach to shoe recycling. Instead of 100 years decomposing in landfills, the donated shoes are sold to participating vendors in developing countries. This creates retail jobs while stimulating free enterprise. MORE provides basic supplies, tools, seeds, and agroforestry training to poor farming families and rural villages” (source). If you have old shoes that still have some life in them, bring them by the store to donate!

Waste-less Events

Post-race food is awesome. Tastes even better when paired with compostable flatware!

In 2018, we gave out over 20,000 cups to participants of our races. That’s a LOT of cups. We decided it was too many, and in 2019 transitioned our races to be cupless. In addition, every piece of cutlery, plate, or bowl we give you for your post-race meal is 100% compostable! At every race we have recycling bins and compost bins so that you can dispose of your waste properly and reduce the load that heads to the landfill. Check out our cup-less policy here!

Did you know?
In 2020 the Runner’s Edge started Running Up for Air Mt. Sentinel. A part of the Up for Air Series, this event challenges participants to climb Mt. Sentinel as many times as possible in 3, 6, or 12 hours in the dead of winter. All proceeds of this event support Climate Smart Missoula and their initiatives to reduce air pollution and improve climate resiliency in Missoula

Our staff

A happy RE staff out enjoying the trails

We work hard as a staff to individually and collectively reduce our footprints. It’s not uncommon to have three or more bikes parked downstairs in the basement from morning commutes. To reduce the amount of trash we produce, we have a compost bin on-site for employees. That means all those Five on Black bowls (they’re compostable!), apple cores, and coffee grounds turn into soil instead of ending up in a landfill. In addition, the Runner’s Edge offers its employees free glass recycling.

Questions or Comments?

We’d love to hear from you! If you have ideas for how we can further improve our sustainability efforts, let us know! If you want to know how to get involved, please reach out. Send Jeff an email at jeffm@runnersedgemt.com with any questions, comments, or concerns! Thanks for shopping local 🙂

Lisa Walser sewing a t-shirt bag

By: Jeff Mogavero

What do you do when you find yourself faced with hundreds of t-shirts that no one wants? After years of events our storage unit was overflowing with unclaimed race t-shirts. Our first thought was to donate the shirts, but no organizations in town needed shirts this year. With a growing mountain of shirts, we decided to get creative by whipping out the scissors and sewing machine. In turn, we addressed more problems than just an overabundance of t-shirts.

For years we’ve been working through a surplus of giant plastic bags, eagerly awaiting the day they would run out and we could come up with a more environmentally friendly solution. If you’ve been in the store recently, you may have noticed that we no longer give out plastic bags. And if you’ve been in our storage unit recently, you may have also noticed that all of our extra t-shirts are gone. In the past few months, we’ve been cutting and sewing old race t-shirts to turn them into reusable bags! We are so excited about this opportunity to reduce waste and provide a useful product to customers who forget their reusable bags. 

While we’re incredibly happy to be reducing the amount of plastic waste our store contributes to the world, we want to remind everyone that using our new bags is not the solution. The t-shirt bags are available to those who need them, but ideally customers will opt to not use a bag, or simply bring their own bag. Our goal is to reduce waste, not create another form of waste!

Speaking of waste, you might be wondering what happens to all of the scrap fabric from our bags. Our sewer extraordinaire, Lisa Walser, came up with a brilliant solution: dog beds! Once she has enough scraps, Lisa stuffs them all in a shirt and sews it shut, making a comfy dog bed to be donated to the Humane Society. 

The best part of our new bags? If you’re in a pinch and need a sleeveless shirt, just cut off the bottom of your bag and BOOM, you have a tank top!

Drop by the store to check out the new bags, but please bring your own! We have the t-shirt bags as backups, but a limited supply that we hope will last a very long time!

A very happy Dominic enjoying a t-shirt doggy bed

By: Jeff Mogavero

After a long winter spent scurrying along icy roads and snowy trails, the warm embrace of spring is a welcome phenomena here in Montana. The snow line continues to flee up the mountainsides as temperatures continue to creep higher and higher. The presence of dry ground and dark ribbons of singletrack sends Missoulians flocking to the trails surrounding town. It’s so much fun to go on a run or walk and see dozens of other people out enjoying the sunshine, fresh air, and plentiful miles of trails. Below are some recommendations for keeping our trails in great shape, current trail conditions, and ideas for your springtime explorations!

Note: to stay up to date on current trail conditions, drop by the store for our trail conditions board by the front door!

Trail Etiquette Reminders

1. Stay on trail!!

It’s almost impossible to go out on Waterworks or the North Hills and not run into someone walking in the grass next to a muddy trail. While escaping the mud may seem like a great idea, it destroys the surrounding vegetation, contributes to erosion issues, and creates new trails that become an eyesore. As we like to say, “keep singetrack single!”. If it’s muddy, stay on trail through the mud. If you don’t want to get your shoes muddy, try a different route on a less muddy trail.

Stay on trail and have fun in the mud!

Tips for avoiding the mud:

  • Go early in the day, when temps are closer to freezing and the sun has yet to thaw out the ground.
  • Stick to trails covered in ice/snow and bring traction devices! You’ll get snowy, not dirty, and avoid the crowds too.
  • Choose trails that have been snow free for a long time – they’re most likely to be dry! 
2. Let others pass

Especially in the time of COVID, passing and being passed on trail warrants respect. The person heading uphill has the right of way. If descending, stop and step off to the side of the trail. Once the person coming uphill has passed you, hop back on trail and continue along. If you come up behind someone, give a hearty “hello!” from a distance so that you don’t startle them. Let them know you’ll be passing, and what side you’ll pass on (“Hi there! Passing on your left!”). Don’t forget to be friendly!

3. Clean up after your dog

We all love having our dog join us on trail. But what we don’t all love is stepping in dog poo or finding those little plastic bags of dog poo plopped along the trail. If your dog goes to the loo, PLEASE pick up the poo! Carry the bag with you and toss it in the trashcan at the trailhead.

Current Conditions Updated 4/5 

Overall, expect drier trails at lower elevations. Mid elevations have mud, with snow/ice in shady spots. Higher elevations eventually all have snow/ice. South-facing slopes have dried out quicker. Trails are starting to get good out there as days stay warm!

Pattee Canyon:

Snow has just about left the canyon! Most trails are dry, but be ready to get dirty.  If you see some charred looking forest, it’s from a recent prescribed burn. Enjoy the campfire smell and lack of smoke :). Expect snow/ice on north facing slopes and in shaded areas. Upper trails by University Mountain have some snow drifts, but they are navigable. The dirt

A trace of snow by the Barmeyer Loop

road that leads up to University still has plenty of snow in the upper reaches. The ridge route to University is doable without traction, but traction will make it much easier. The Barmeyer Loop is mostly clear but does have several icy patches.

 

Mount Sentinel:

The M Trail and fire road are snow-free and mostly mud free. Snow/ice can be found in the trees towards the top of the mountain (on the Boy Scout Trail and between the north and south summits). The ridge trail has a large snow/ice section a few hundred yards below the summit. It is very steep. Use traction or go slowly and carefully, staying on trail. Pengelly Ridge up to the south summit is clear of snow. The Smokejumper trail is icy and snowy enough in its upper reaches that it’s best done going uphill. Traction isn’t necessary, but it is very helpful. Traction IS necessary if going downhill.

Mount Jumbo:

Morning on Mt. Jumbo

The trails south of the summit are clear of snow and ice! They are also mostly clear of mud. North of the summit to the Lincoln Hills Trailhead/saddle is a mix of snow, ice, and mud. The warm weather is eating away at the snow very quickly. Traction could be helpful if you aren’t confident on slippery surfaces. Going uphill on this section is most enjoyable and safest! The trails and two-track on the saddle are in great shape.

Waterworks/North Hills:

The snow has left and trails are mostly mud free! Head out early to avoid crowds. PLEASE STAY ON TRAIL. Waterworks is highly susceptible to trail braiding and erosion. Mornings are the best time to avoid the crowds chasing the warmth of the day.

A group run on the Waterworks trails

Rattlesnake:

Conditions are changing quickly as snow and ice melt. Spring Gulch and many of the trails in Sawmill Gulch are still snowy and icy. Rumour has it they can be done without traction, but it is very slow going. Bring along your spikes to speed things up in case you encounter a dreaded ribbon of ice winding up hill. The main corridor is in good shape for a few miles. The trail up to Stuart Peak is still in winter mode. Stuart can generally be done with just a mile or two of snow come mid May. It is snow free in mid to late June.

Blue Mountain:

Mud and dog poop! A reminder to PLEASE pick up after your dog and take the bag with you! Mud down low, but trails drying out fast. The higher up you go, the muddier and then icier the trails will get. Snow up high by the summit. Also expect snow/ice in shadier sections of trail that don’t see the sun much. 

Kim Williams Trail:

Aside from a few small patches of easy to navigate ice in Hellgate Canyon, the Kim is totally snow/ice free! 

Route Ideas

Once Jumbo opens, I am always itching for an excuse to find myself on the top of the mountain! My number one route suggestion for this time of year is a run or hike up to the “L”, heading to the summit if time/ability allows. All of the trails on that side of the mountain are snow free and drying out fast. 

If you’re looking for a longer adventure, we’ve got you! Jumbo is nice, but the big views and sun exposure of Waterworks makes me yearn for those rolling trails. My solution? Waterworks + Jumbo, also known as Watumbo! Watumbo is a big, wonderful loop that links together Waterworks, the North Hills, and Jumbo almost entirely on trail. It can range anywhere from 10 miles to 15 miles, depending on how creative you get on the Waterworks trails. If you want to shorten Watumbo a bit, you can cut across the Rattlesnake at the Tivoli trailhead to the Mountain View trailhead for a north loop of 7.7 miles, or a south loop of 7.7 miles (It’s amazing how nicely that works out). If you’re looking for a longer run, give this one a try! It’s best to go clockwise so that you can walk up the snow/ice on the north side of Jumbo. Once that snow melts, the route is phenomenal in either direction!

Purple: Full Watumbo route (~10 miles, +2,370’)
Blue: Cutoff for shorter Watumbo (North and South are both 7.7 miles)

Directions:

Make your way from Greenough Park up to the top of the Waterworks Hill. Enjoy the view and keep going, turning right at the fence line. Head down the switchbacks and turn left to follow the power lines in the North Hills. Take the “sunset loop”, sticking to the highest trail/two track. Take your last right and head towards the trailhead. Descend about 1/4 mile before taking a left on single track. Take this to Duncan Drive. Take a left and enter the trails again, heading over the squishy bridge. Take a left after the bridge, then your first right to cross the Rattlesnake Canyon on trail. Stay on trail after crossing Rattlesnake Drive. Pick your poison of trails/dirt road that take you up to the Lincoln Hills Trailhead. Hop on trail there and head up the backside of Mt. Jumbo. Take in the views on the summit then head down towards the “L” and back to Greenough Park. Have fun!!