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

Welcome to the final installment of the Quarantine Q&A. We hope that by sharing the stories of our neighbors these past weeks you found some inspiration, solidarity, and connection as a community. We certainly have enjoyed getting to learn from and share the stories of those who are adapting to a new way of life in these unprecedented times.

For our last Q&A we are excited to visit with the one and only Anders Brooker. As the owner of The Runner’s Edge, the Hellgate High School XC coach, and a steadfast Montana running community leader, Anders hardly needs an introduction. Like so many others, he and the Runner’s Edge family have had to pivot, adapt, and navigate uncharted waters these last couple of months. Read on to learn how he is working hard to continue adding value to his employees, athletes, and community during these challenging times.

Anders with his wife, Meg, and their baby, Will.


How many years ago did you open The Runner’s Edge?

We opened up in July 2001 on the weekend of the Sundae Run.  Sundae Run was put on Missoula Road and Track Club (now RWM) and used to be on the weekend that turned out later to be the Missoula Marathon weekend.  

As a small business owner, how has the COVID pandemic most significantly impacted your business?

Obviously we closed down and that had a huge impact on our day to day sales.  Lucky for us the Missoula community is so supportive, so we were able to fill some orders with in-town delivery and curbside pickup.  We have also had to postpone or cancel our spring and early summer events. We are hoping that Montana will be in a position we can host some of those events this fall. 

Can you share some ways you are getting creative in trying to engage with the running community and your customers?

One of the opportunities that came with the store being shut down and our events being either canceled or moved to the fall was being able to now look at other ways to interact with the running community.  We have tried to get creative by hosting weekly virtual events and things like the Quarantine Q&A.  

You are also the coach of the Hellgate High School Distance Runners. How have you navigated this time with your athletes as races and seasons have been canceled?

That has been one of the more challenging parts of this for me personally.  I love to coach and am heartbroken for the seniors who have worked so hard and now won’t be able to finish their last track season.  In the end, missing one season might feel small in the grand scheme of things, but I know the effort and dedication these kids put in year-round.  We can’t have physical contact with kids, but we are finding other ways to engage through Zoom meetings, virtual strength training, and helping guide them through this uncertain time.  I miss our kids and coaches.  

Have you taken a moment to get out for a run yourself during these uncertain times?

I usually get out 4-5 days a week.  In the last couple of weeks, we have gone to my parent’s house and ran the 11 Miles to Paradise trail.  It has been a great way to get out of town and find a quiet trail.  I am trying to at least be in good enough shape to run with the high school kids as we can start meeting again. 🙂 

Are there ways you are investing in your mental health right now?

Spring is usually the busiest time for me, between the shop, events, and coaching, so it feels weird to have a few weekends off.  Like I mentioned before, getting out of town and that has been really refreshing. 

Are there any silver linings or positive moments you have experienced in the last couple of weeks you would like to share?

Of course.  It has been hard, but I have tried to look at the opportunity of this time we are all in.  We have made some nice changes inside the shop that we wouldn’t have been able to make if it wasn’t closed down.  We have also learned other ways we can serve our customers like in-town delivery and I could see us continuing some of those moving forward. It has also given us reason to communicate with other running stores around the country and learn from them.  I am also trying to take the time away from practice to grow as a coach and getting through some books and podcasts that have been on the list for a while. 

Where are you finding inspiration right now? (books, music, podcasts, people, etc.)

Oh man… inspiration is coming from everywhere right now.  At home Meg and Will are my number one motivators, we are having some much fun watching Will change each day.  Whether it is working on our events or in the shop, we have some amazing co-workers who are trying to be creative and help us make the right decisions.  In my coaching life seeing the engagement and excitement of our other coaches is awesome and watching these kids stay motivated even with their season is canceled is so inspiring.  My parents have supported everything I been part of it and some crazy decisions I have made. They continue to do that. 

I am just so lucky to have all these people in my life. 

How are you connecting with others during quarantine and social distancing?

Thank god for Zoom.  Lucky for me, I see a lot of people in my life either on the computer screen, at home or at work.

Do you have a favorite place to run in Missoula?

That is an easy answer for me.  I love that trail at the end of Duncan that runs behind “JB’s property” and up to the Rattlesnake corridor.  A lot of folks in the running community know JB and he was nice enough let to Meg and I get married on his property.  So not only is the trail nice, but it is a special place for us. 

If I am leaving town, I would pick the 11 Miles to Paradise trail.  I grew up running that trail with my dad and high school teammates.  It is one of the places I fell in love with running. 

What does the Missoula running community mean to you in a time like this?

The Runner’s Edge mission is “to enhance lives through building community, developing relationships, and having fun.”  We love the products we carry and think they make the running, walking, and fitness experience more enjoyable, but we are in business because of our community and the relationship we have built.  Every time we talk to other stores around the country, it just reminds us how lucky we are to have a community like this one. 

I can’t tell you how many people have reached out or made purchases during this time just to make a point to support us.  We are so grateful to live and work in Missoula.

The Runner’s Edge Team last year in Seattle.

 

A big thank you to Anders for sharing with us and for all he does for our community! If you think this interview would add value to someone in your life, please consider sending this article to them.

Well, that’s a wrap for the quarantine Q&A. We hope it brought value to you in one way or the other the last 5 weeks. If there are other ways you would like to see us out in the community, e-mail Mike@runnersedgemt.com and let us know!


This edition of the Quarantine Q&A is brought to you by Sapphire Physical Therapy. Thank you Sapphire for supporting and celebrating these community stories!

Each week we interview members of our community to learn how the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted their lives, and how they are adapting in these challenging times. Our quarantine interviewees are healthcare workers, small business owners, students, parents, teachers, and, of course, runners. We hope that by sharing the stories of our neighbors we can find inspiration, solidarity, and connection as a community in the coming weeks and months. 


This week we catch up with Emily Walters. Emily is a mom, a poet, an avid skier, a lover of food, and is currently racking up vert running and hiking on the trails all around Missoula. Read on to learn how she is finding joy and spreading positivity in our community during these uncertain times. Also, as a major bonus, Emily shares some of her poetry with us. Please enjoy!

Emily with her husband, Jeff and their daughter, Nina

 

First off, how long have you lived in Missoula?

I’ve lived in Missoula for 12 years.

Are you training for an upcoming race? If so, has it been canceled or postponed? If so, have you set any new goals?

Yes, I have been training for the Bighorn 50k which was recently cancelled. I have a spread sheet (my first year keeping track) of vertical gain, so I’ll focus on vert goals. I’ll keep running but add in more biking too.

What are you doing to maintain motivation and stay active right now?

Having an active 3 1/2 year old is the best kind of trainer, there aren’t any off days with that kind of energy, it is raw motivation. Since the Bighorn was going to be in June, I needed to build a solid base so I have been mostly running. A lot of zone one hikes with our daughter, with moments of sprints she likes to throw in.

How are you investing in your mental health right now?

I haven’t ever really thought of myself as a runner, as much as someone who really values the meditative quality running longer distances can offer. I’ve valued running as an act of mental health even more so lately. Sure, it’s exercise, but really it’s a daily outlet for sustained quiet. It’s also been an activity that feels “normal” while so much around us feels abnormal. Out running, it’s an opportunity to connect with yourself, the mountains, wildflowers, changes in light and check in with your internal barometer.

Are there any silver linings or positive moments you have experienced in the last couple of weeks you would like to share?

Yes, I’ve had a “COVID-running buddy” Sarah Raz, who has been a great friend and running companion for years, but especially during the past few months. We’ve crossed this valley up and down in snow, sleet, sun, sadness and joy. Our weekly runs together have been so meaningful to me right now, a rare opportunity to run hard together, we cheer each other on, shout out, “nice work blondie” and laugh. Running can be a lot of hours clocked alone, but with Sarah, we push each other and hold each other up even when we cannot hug or high-five.

Where are you finding inspiration right now? (books, music, podcasts, people, etc.)

Reading Station Eleven, listening to On Being’s poetry podcasts, cooking, writing, drawing wildflowers and rainbows with our daughter, working in the garden, mowing the yard. I really find inspiration being outside.

How are you connecting with others during quarantine and social distancing?

I’m a funny kind of introvert in that I thought I would thrive in social isolation, but turns out, I really miss interacting with people, “live”. Sure, it’s great to have technology to connect, but it feels clumsy for organic conversation. I really miss random conversations, comedic quips said for lightness and ease.

Do you have a favorite place to run in Missoula?

The North Hills have become my favorite because I can run from our house. But nothing beats a great loop up Jumbo and Sentinel or variation on the loop theme.

What does the Missoula running community mean to you in a time like this?

Missoula now more than ever feels like a place where people cheer each other on even if they don’t really know you. You could be out and about running at dawn and you’ll see someone you might just slightly know zoom by and you both smile. Exchange that joy in seeing someone do what they love to do too. Running feels like a place of normalcy now more than ever, Missoula feels like it’s still cheering. At least the wildflowers are cheering for sure.

Anything you would like to say to our community during this moment?

Keep saying hi, keep smiling, keep being smart while out and about on the trails. Sure, we have to be six feet apart, but nothing means more to a person than a gesture of positivity. You never know what that person might be processing, give them a sense of being seen.

You recently participated in a challenge in April, which is National Poetry Month, to write a sonnet a day. That’s so cool. Would you be open to sharing one with us?

Yes, I didn’t ever think I’d write about running, but I write a lot while I am running. I call my longer days, rough drafts, because it’s where I have more time to really “write” while I run.

Above The Life I Live In

People say you should run your own race,
but I haven’t been able to figure out a strategy
for myself other than running for hours outside,
high above the life I live in. Crest along rocks,
ravines and spend most of my day with ravens
in the alpine, moments when I forget I have feet,
just the simple moment of breath meeting breath
and me as a body between. I never feel like a failure
when I move my body up a mountain, never ask
myself what have I done with my one beautiful day
given. Nor ask what have I given back to this world
when I am quiet with it. I’ve asked clouds the hardest
of questions, fully knowing they didn’t need to answer

back. Know they trust me. And with them, I’m enough.


A big thank you to Emily for sharing her poetry and stories with us! If you think this interview would add value to someone in your life, please consider forwarding this email to them.

Also, if you are enjoying the Quarantine Q&A series, or have a question you would like us to ask our interviewees, let us know! Email Mike@runnersedgemt.com.


This edition of the Quarantine Q&A is brought to you by Sapphire Physical Therapy. Thank you Sapphire for supporting and celebrating these community stories!

Each week we interview members of our community to learn how the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted their lives, and how they are adapting in these challenging times. Our quarantine interviewees are healthcare workers, small business owners, students, parents, teachers, and, of course, runners. We hope that by sharing the stories of our neighbors we can find inspiration, solidarity, and connection as a community in the coming weeks and months. Please enjoy! 

This week we catch up with Tim Mosbacher. Tim is a true runner’s runner and an institution in the running community. A retired school teacher, Tim recently completed his massive goal of running a marathon in all 50 states. Get to know Tim and learn about what keeps him motivated, and how he is setting new goals now that he has completed his last major project. 

 

Tim with friends in Hawaii last year for his final marathon of his 50 marathons in 50 states project.


First off, how long have you lived in Missoula?

I first moved to Missoula in 1970 and lived here during my elementary years, but then moved to Billings. I returned for college, but then left for a few years to teach on the Hi-Line of Montana. I returned for good in 1996.

Are you training for an upcoming race? If so, has it been canceled or postponed? If so, have you set any new goals?

An easy question but difficult to answer. I had an injury during the first few months of the year and just recently started training again. I was signed up for the Eugene Marathon in April and the Sandhill Marathon (NE), but both have been canceled. So I have just been using the time to build up my base to get ready for when races resume. I have a list of fall marathons next to my computer ready to be used if they start opening up races.

Speaking of goals, last year you finished your major goal of running a marathon in all 50 states. Congrats! What’s the next big objective on your horizon?

I have two immediate goals. There are five states (MT, NE, OR, VA, and NV) where I did not run a Boston Qualifying time, so I am going to redo those. Then I would like to run all the states with a sub 3-hour time, so I need to redo a few more. I would be the oldest person to have ever accomplished that goal. At the end of June, I am also going to finish hiking across the state of Montana, a trek I did halfway two years ago.

What are you doing to maintain motivation and stay active right now?

When I completed the 50 state goal, I knew I needed a goal because that is what motivates me. To be honest it has been fun just training with nothing ahead of me. I have not had that experience in over a decade. I have been running a lot, and since there are no group runs, my long run has been sometimes in the middle of the week and speed work sometimes on the weekend. The flexibility has been awesome. The Strava challenges have also helped me get in some faster work, but I am not planning to hit any real speed work until May.

How are you investing in your mental health right now?

Running to me is my physical and mental health. Just being able to think when out on a run is relaxing to me (unless I get on the subject of politics). I like to be challenged and the Strava challenges provide me my humor and mental stimulation as I try to beat the person ranked ahead of me.

What are some of the largest ways that the COVID crisis has changed your life in recent weeks? (professionally, at home, etc.)

It hasn’t changed much at all. I am retired so the main thing it has done is create more traffic on Mt. Sentinel. There is way less traffic on the roads, and that has been awesome. The main thing for me is Run Wild Missoula events provided my socialization, so I have not been able to run/socialize with anyone.

Are there any silver linings or positive moments you have experienced in the last couple of weeks you would like to share?

The silver linings have been what I mentioned above, freedom to switch the training schedule and less traffic.

Where are you finding inspiration right now? (books, music, podcasts, people, etc.)

I early on realized this time period could end up being a unique and positive experience for my, and others’, training. I have always had something on the calendar, so I maybe would skip doing a certain part of training (hills for example). Now with nothing on the calendar, we can add into our training the items we have been weak on because there is no pressure of a race coming up. What a unique time for high school, college, and professionals to fall in love with the sport of running again because there is no pressure. I think in the fall, or whenever races resume, we are going to see some amazing results. I also love listening to the Physical Performance Show podcast by Brad Beer.

How are you connecting with others during quarantine and social distancing?

To be honest, I have not been connecting. I miss the Saturday Breakfast Run (my favorite run of the week) and the group I run with on Sundays, as well as Tuesday track. This past week I did connect with Trisha Drobeck for a couple of runs and she always stays more than a few feet away since I am so much older and slower.

Do you have a favorite place to run in Missoula?

I love to run on most roads, so I don’t really have a favorite place. I do not mind running the same route every day, so I have routes for whatever mileage I am going to do. For faster workouts, I like the Riverfront Trail or the trail to Lolo.

What does the Missoula running community mean to you in a time like this?

I think the whole running community is like me and are chomping at the bit to be able to run with their running buddies. I miss them. I follow a number of people on Strava, so it brings a smile to my face when I see that someone has run well or has done a run that looks cool. I think when this whole thing is over, people are going to realize even more what our running buddies mean to us. Hopefully that means more people will come to the breakfast run. Those young guns sometimes push me to my limits, which is awesome!


We enjoyed getting to hear from Tim and hope you did too! If you think this interview would add value to someone in your life, please consider forwarding this blog post to them.

Also, if you are enjoying the Quarantine Q&A series, or have a question you would like us to ask our interviewees, let us know! Email Mike@runnersedgemt.com.

This edition of the Quarantine Q&A is brought to you by Sapphire Physical Therapy. Thank you Sapphire for supporting and celebrating these community stories!