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!

Women

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.

Men

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

Relay

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: 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.

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

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

Runner’s ascending the steep terrain above the M. Photo: Seth Orme

By Adam Peterman, Race Director of the 2021 Sentinel Hill Climb

For me, the Hill Climb started in 2009. On a cold November morning when I was a freshman at Hellgate High School, I lined up to race my first ever Sentinel Hill Climb.  I had just read “Born to Run” and was wearing a fresh pair of Vibram Five Fingers (blue camo colorway, of course.)  I remember there was a skiff of snow and my footprints made it look like I was running barefoot. 

The course that year didn’t follow the ridge trail but instead the more gradual Boy Scout Trail to the top.  Two-thirds into the race, I blindly took the lead, not knowing how much farther was left, and turned myself inside out to avoid being passed. I haven’t won it since, and I think it’s safe to say I’m the only person to win it in Vibram Fivefingers. 

12 years later and I’ve been handed the ropes to be the race director.  With COVID precautions in place, we were given a unique opportunity to create an “Elite Heat” for the runners who want to start together in a pack and duke it out.  I love many things about running, but a big part of why I run is for the competition, and man, I’m looking forward to the fields that we’ve assembled from our Western Montana runners! 

The Men

  • The Young Men: There is a strong group of trail guys in Missoula right now who all have the capability to break 20 minutes at the Hill Climb (winning times are frequently around 20 minutes).  Monte Cole, Jeff Mogavero, Jackson Cole, Tyler Courville, and Alejandro “Peanut” Rosales will all take a crack at sub 20. 

    Monte Cole gasps for air after a time trial up Mt Sentinel last summer. Photo: Jeff Mogavero

  • The Cyclists: Howard Grotts is a professional mountain biker for Specialized who just moved to Missoula.  Since moving to town, he’s established the fastest time up to the “M,” in a whopping 6:01, and completed the Hill Climb course in 19:50 just a few days ago. He’s got the engine! The other cyclist in our field is Shaun Radley, owner of Montana Cyclocross and the hype man at the Treadmill Challenge.  Shaun has been raring to go at the Hill Climb and we can’t wait to see how he stacks up against Missoula’s best trail runners.  
  • The Fireman: Andrew Droback will be making his return to the Hill Climb this year.  Although he’s run in the 20’s multiple times, he’s never gone under.  Will this be his year to do it? 
  • The Men of Polson: Jason Delaney and Mike Adams will be making the trip down from Polson this year to see how they stack up in the Hill Climb. Delaney is a champion of the Pikes Peak Marathon, a highly competitive trail race in Colorado.  Adams has been a consistent podium finisher in RE Events for many years now.  

    Mike Adams cruising above the M in the last running of the Hill Climb. Photo: Seth Orme

  • The Ultra Man: New to the Hill Climb is Nate Bender, best known for his historic link up of all of Montana’s 12,000 foot peaks in one four-day push.  
  • The New Guy: Missoula’s newest trail guy, Kris Brown, is a professional athlete for Hoka One One hailing from Santa Barbara, California.  Fresh off posting the 10th fastest 100k time for an American, it will be exciting to see how he stacks up in a much shorter event.  
  • The Road Man: Grady Anderson, a former steeplechaser for North Dakota State University and self proclaimed “Road Man” has announced he is going for the $50 premium to the “M”.  Let’s see if he can hold on.  
  • The Dark Horses: In our field we have a handful of Dark Horses that could totally mix things up.  Keep an eye on Doug Melzer, one of Missoula’s fastest skimo racers.
  • Then there’s me:  Although I hold the fastest time up Sentinel, the past month I’ve primarily been a cyclist due to an upset achilles. Howard Grotts, however, seems to be doing quite well off of just cycling, so maybe it will be fine? (Editor’s note: Adam is also a professional athlete for Hoka ONE ONE and holds the fastest known time up Mt Sentinel in 18:39. He is the one to beat!)

    Nicole Murray taking an early lead in the 2019 Hill Climb. Photo: Seth Orme

The Women

  • The Defending Champ: Nicole Murray is back to defend her title. Nicole has won the Hill Climb and the Treadmill Challenge nearly every year she’s entered. Last year she took a commanding win in a time of 25:02. She is a force to be reckoned with and seemingly unstoppable in uphill events. Can she be challenged?
  • The Track to Trails Champ: Erin Clark busted onto the trail scene this January with a 2nd place finish at the Bandera 100k, earning her a coveted Golden Ticket to the 2021 Western States 100. Now a pro trail runner for Hoka ONE ONE, she is ready to roll on the dirt. If that wasn’t enough to make her a favorite, Erin was also an 11 time All-American at the University of Colorado. She is one to watch this Wednesday, although she claims to “hate the Sentinel Ridge trail.”

    Erin Clark and Adam Peterman after Erin’s second place finish at the 2021 Bandera 100k

  • The Coach: Maryn Lowry, a former Division 1 runner at Iowa State and University of Montana, is transitioning from track to trails and ready for the hill climb. Her athletes know her as the assistant coach at UM, but you may soon know her as the gal devouring the ridge trail. 
  • The Ultra Runner: Heather Brooks is best known for her commanding presence in mountainous 50 and 100 mile races. This Missoula ultra runner and La Sportiva athlete will also be dropping down in distance for this event. She’s deep in a training block for the legendary Hardrock 100 this summer in Colorado. We’ll see how that translates to short, steep, uphill climbs.
  • The New Gal: Katrina Miller is new to Missoula from Santa Barbara and looking for a solid showing at her first Hill Climb experience. She hasn’t been at the running game for that many years, but comes charging into town with some top finishes at trail ultras and a desire to race hard. 
  • The PT: Local physical therapist and all around trail crusher Sara Bougnher will enter the Hill Climb as her first race since winning the Siuslaw Sand Dune 25k in early 2020. Will she be able to handle the lack of sand? 
  • The Dark Horse: Katy Robin-Garton, is returning to the climb this year after placing 2nd in 2017. Look out for her and her husband, Doug Melzer as dark horses! 

The Sentinel Hill Climb will make for a fun evening of running and an exciting return to in-person racing.  Follow this link to learn more and sign up! 

Don’t forget the ice cream at the end! Photo: Seth Rome