Bitterroot Runoff  Recap 2021

We had a beautiful morning at the Bitterroot Runoff Trail Runs this Saturday! Runners got to experience private singletrack outside of Lolo, followed by pancakes, Big Dipper Ice Cream, and Big Sky Beer after the race. 


Typically, the Bitterroot Runoff is our first race of the year in mid April. This year, due to COVID concerns, we chose to push it to July.  

Compared to last time we raced at this venue during the Hootenanny, the weather was the polar opposite.  Instead of 33 degrees Fahrenheit and rain all day, the trails were dry and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  Fortunately on race day, the temperature stayed relatively cool early in the day and it wasn’t too smokey.  


On the men’s side, we saw a father-son-duo Michael Curtis and Ian Curtis take the titles for the 5-mile and 10-mile, respectively.  Ian, a former Hellgate High School cross country runner who now runs collegiately in Minnesota, had a battle on his hands with Mike Adams out of Ronan.  On the climbs, Ian would build a gap from Adams, but on the descents, Adams would blow past Ian.  This game continued until the final mile of the race, where Ian pulled away and came away with the win.  


The women’s race saw Nicole Murray win the 10-mile for the second consecutive year.  Nicole will be attempting the Bitterroot Runoff/Treadmill Challenge double this year, with only 2 days of separation between the two races.  In the 5-mile, Leilani Contos came away with the title.  Leilani has been cleaning up at our races, most recently winning the 10k at Mountain to Meadow.  



You can find the photos from the race HERE. Thank you to our lovely photographer, Anastacia Wilde, for being out there crushing it on race morning. 

Thank you to the volunteers to showed up and helped make this event possible.  We had great volunteers helping out at packet pick up, manning the aid station, and handing out breakfast and ice cream after the race. 

Huge thank you to all of our great sponsors for supporting this event. We had gels and electrolyte drinks from Hammer Nutrition keeping everyone fueled during the race, Joe from Big Sky Brewery handing out post-race refreshments, Evie from Sapphire Physical Therapy giving out post race massages, Big Dipper Ice Cream cooling everyone down afterwards, and Saucony supporting this event!

Treadmill Challenge

Despite the rain and snow, it was all smiles at the Hootenanny! Photo: Seth Orme

Alex Levan celebrating his 50k finish. Photo: Seth Orme

Patty Creek Junction keeping the base area lively! Photo: Seth Orme

It seems like once a year, Missoula gets a day where it rains ALL day. This past Sunday was that day. Not to be deterred, Hootenanny 50k and Relay participants came out in force to run through rain, snow and mud. The sun may have been hiding behind dense clouds, but the smiles and laughs from hundreds of runners warmed up the chilly day. Volunteers brought energy to both aid stations and kept fires going to take the edge off the cold. Not to mention they pumped all the runners full of tasty food! At the base area, volunteers, spectators, and runners were treated to live music from Patty Creek Junction to keep the excitement high. Thanks to all who came out and persevered through some tough weather! Congrats everyone and thank you volunteers!

50k Race

The 50k consisted of three approximately 10-mile loops, with the first loop having an additional mini-loop to get the total distance to a full 31 miles. The course was slightly different from the 2020 course, but times were expected to be very similar. The 50k started at 7am under cloudy, but not yet rainy, skies. Many runners got through most of one lap without getting too too wet. Laps two and three were wet for everyone. Rain poured down in the base area, while big fat snowflakes flew up high. Trail runners are tough cookies though, and smiled their way through the chilly slip n slide of a course. Congrats to all!


Erin Clark coming in for a first place finish in the women’s 50k. Photo: Seth Orme

Even with a muddy course on a chilly day, the women’s race went out hot. After the first lap, it was clear that multiple women had the potential to better Evie Tate’s 2020 course record of 4:49:26. Coming off her win at the Sentinel Hill Climb, Erin Clark powered through to a new course record at the Hootenanny 50k. Clark ran an incredibly speedy 4:12:06, besting Tate’s 2020 record by a whopping 37 minutes. Keep an eye out for Clark at next month’s Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run! Also under course record were Imogen Ainsworth (2nd place, 4:30:21), Christi Richards (3rd place, 4:46:05), and Reagan Colyer (4th place, 4:46:50). Master’s winner was Renate Bush (8th place overall, 6:04:18). The women’s race saw 34 starters with 28 finishers.


Jeff Mogavero headed towards a win in the 50k. Photo: Seth Orme

The men’s race shared a similar success to the women’s race, with fast times clocked by many. The top three men came through lap one with less than one minute separating them. Jeff Mogavero pulled ahead on lap two and held on for lap three, establishing a new course record in 3:56:04. He was not the only dip under Jesse Potter’s 2020 course record of 4:42:40. Loren Davis (2nd place, 4:08:55) and Hunter MacHus (3rd place, 4:17:00) both came in under the record, as did the next three finishers (including Potter, who bettered his time by 6 minutes). Master’s winner was Ethan Richards (4th place overall, 4:25:05). The men’s race saw 52 starters with 41 finishers.

Women’s relay winners Local Bacon Toasted Hazelnuts Mozzarella Maple Chipotle Driz with big smiles at the finish. Photo: Seth Orme


The relay took place on the same course as the 50k, with three runners each running one loop of the course. The race started at 8am, just in time for everyone lucky enough to run the first (and longest loop) to get caught in the meat of the snow/rain storm. The trails were freshly muddied by the 50k runners on their first lap and the relayers rejoiced in the sloppy mudfest. Runners stormed the course with tons of energy, excitement, and awesome team names. It was a tight race between the women’s champs and the co-ed champs. Despite covering over 30 miles, co-ed team winner Go Biga or Go Home ran 4:14:56 to narrowly edge out women’s winners Local Bacon Toasted Hazelnuts Mozzarella Maple Chipotle Driz in 4:15:49. That’s one minute!! The Sweaty Singlets placed first for men, covering the 50k course in 3:35:35. Perhaps next year there should be a winner for best team name?!

Relayers partying their way to the finish! Photo: Seth Orme

Full results available from Competitive Timing here.

Photos from Seth Orme available for FREE download on Facebook and from Seth’s website.

Thanks to our sponsors!

Sapphire Physical Therapy
Big Sky Brewing
Hammer Nutrition
New Balance

Runners ascend the steep northwest ridge of Mt. Sentinel. Photo: Seth Orme

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!

Women’s Race

Erin Clark running to victory. Photo: Seth Orme

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:

  1. Erin Clark (Hoka ONE ONE) – 25:32.97
  2. Nicole Murray – 25:40.93
  3. Michelle Hiland – 27:13.51
  4. Heather Brooks (La Sportiva) – 28:33.95
  5. 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.

Adam Peterman on his way to a new fastest known time and course record. Photo: Seth Orme

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:

  1. Adam Peterman (Hoka ONE ONE) – 18:31.26
  2. Howard Grotts (Specialized) – 19:25.72
  3. Kris Brown (Hoka ONE ONE) – 20:35.44
  4. Jeff Mogavero – 21:10.13
  5. 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:

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.

All smiles at the Mt Sentinel Hill Climb! Photo: Seth Orme

Runners on their way up the northwest ridge of Sentinel. Photo: Seth Orme