On September 20th, Runner’s Edge Events will be holding the Blue Mountain 30k for the 11th year in a row.  Since 2009, this fall race has been a fundraiser for the Hellgate High School cross country team. 

For the past 7 years, Steve Lodmill and Scott Samuels have run this race together–some years finishing together, and other years within a few minutes of one another.  Both men have children who competed for the Hellgate Cross Country team. Prior to the Blue Mountain 30k, neither man had completed a trail race quite this long. 

We love this tradition between Steve and Scott so much that we decided to find out what brought them to run this race with each other for so many years. Read below to read the whole interview!  

Steve and Scott side by side climbing up Blue Mountain Road. Photo courtesy of Scott Samuels.

 

Both of you have run the Blue Mountain 30k together (or finished within a few minutes of one another) since 2013.  What inspired this tradition?

Scott: I was not a runner when I turned 50-years-old (almost a decade ago); instead of buying a red convertible for my midlife crisis, I decided to do the hardest thing I could think of: run the Pengelly Double Dip! I finished that awesome race, but it thoroughly crushed me. So, about a year later when my dear friend Steve, whose office is across the hall from mine, suggested we support HKXC (which included our oldest kids, Tessa and Sean, on the team) by signing up for the BM30K, I thought he was crazy and I knew there was no way that I could run that race. However, we trained and we ended up having a fabulous time: we completed the spectacular 18-mile course about 45 minutes faster than expected…and that began our long and fruitful tenure as running buddies, which, as Steve mentioned, has included some epic races and adventures.

Steve: Scott and I have been friends for a long time.  Back in 2013, both of us were running regularly, but modest distances, mostly just to get out and get our dogs out in the early mornings.  I had heard of the BM30k from my friend Renate Bush, who said it was fun.  I asked Scott if he wanted to give it a try- both of us thought the distance and elevation were intimidating, since we didn’t really see ourselves in that league of running.  But we laughed and said ‘what the heck?’ and signed up!  We somehow finished without dying and it was the gateway into a series of longer runs that we aspired to afterward, including the Rut 50K, Pikes Peak Marathon, and the Big Horn 50M.

 

Is this a rivalry or a camaraderie? 

Scott: We often cross the finish line together, but we have also taken turns and I think both of us would like to finish under three hours one of these years.

Steve: The BM30k is certainly camaraderie!  We both encourage the other one to run his best race, but we still wind up finishing pretty close every year!

 

What is your favorite part about the Blue Mountain 30k?

Scott: No question: the HKXC athletes staffing the aid stations is the raison d’être! However, the course is absolutely my favorite: beautiful and challenging. I also agree with Steve that the vibe is supportive and joyous.

Steve: My favorite parts of the MB30K are the HKXC kids at the aid stations and the easygoing atmosphere on the course and at the bbq afterwards.  It’s a fun local run that goes for a good cause- keeps us coming back!

 

Any highlights from the past 7 years of running the Blue Mountain 30k that stick out to you?

Scott: One highlight was the first year: I remember climbing up from the last aid station, which is a grunt, and Steve waiting for me at the top in the sunshine utterly bathed in a runner’s high. I also fondly remember cranking down the motorcycle trails toward that last aid station trying to keep up with him and just being a bit out-of-control. Of course, the best memories are those student athletes rooting for us.

Steve: I have a lot of very fond and vivid memories of the run.  Scott and I have both had injuries or health issues that made the course seem especially daunting at times, but it has become the single race that we don’t even seriously question whether or not we’re going to sign up.  For me, it’s the one motivation for staying in reasonable shape in the months leading up to the BM30k!

 

Thank you to Scott and Steve for taking the time to answer our questions and for supporting Hellgate Cross Country over the years!  There are still several spots left in the Blue Mountain 30k. Click here for more information.


“All I want is for it to rain ALL summer; I would take that over a smoky summer any day.”

The Pengelly Ridge Trail by the summit of South Sentinel

It was March, and Nico was already lamenting the impending smoke season months away. I gazed out over the Missoula Valley as the two of us ran slowly up the Pengelly Ridge Trail. A faint brown cloud, an inversion trapping pollutants from escaping into the atmosphere above, hung low in the valley. Nico and I both realized that while Missoula is a fantastic place to live, it is also often inundated with poor air quality. We kept looking out at the surrounding peaks and forests as we ascended the ridge, making our way over to Mt. Sentinel. Nico’s exclamation rattled around in my head – how many months would we be forced indoors that summer due to wildfire smoke?

 

Seemingly against all odds, Missoula dodged the worst of the 2019 fire season. But memories from the historic 2017 season are fresh in the minds of many of us. The American Lung Association agrees – their 2019 “State of the Air” report found that the Missoula area is the fifth most polluted area in the country for short-term particle pollution and the 11th most polluted for annual particle pollution. For a community defined by its amazing access to public lands and exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities, it’s not surprising that poor air quality strikes fear into the hearts of even the hardiest of Missoulians. Nobody wants to be laboring up the steep flanks of Mt. Sentinel while inhaling a big gulp of wildfire smoke or pollutants trapped by a wintertime inversion. Unfortunately, scientists are finding that climate change may well increase western wildfires and poor air quality in the coming years (1, 2, 3, 4). It’s easy to feel helpless when faced with smoke-filled skies, but trail runners in Utah and Colorado have found a constructive, fun way to fight for clean air.

Descending the Boy Scout Trail, part of the RUFA Mt Sentinel course, on a quick New Year’s Day Sentinel lap

 

Salt Lake City, Utah, home to famously dangerous air quality during wintertime inversions, is also filled with outdoor enthusiasts. Ultrarunner Jared Campbell started an event in 2011 while running laps on a local Wasatch Range peak. Campbell wanted to raise awareness and money to address Salt Lake’s air quality issues. Soon it became a formal wintertime challenge, called Running Up for Air (RUFA) that engages hundreds of participants each year. The Up For Air Series, which includes both climbing and running events, spread throughout the Wasatch Range and into Colorado over the past few years. RUFA events ask participants to rise to the occasion and climb a literal mountain, while also tackling the figurative mountain of air quality issues. For 3, 6, 12, or 24 hours, participants scale a local peak in February, climbing it as many times as possible in the given time limit. 

While enjoying the clean air atop Mt. Sentinel with Nico last March, the rambling conversation we were having drifted again to Missoula’s air quality. We soon realized that Missoula would be a perfect fit for another RUFA event. Our valley is home to everyday adventurers and athletes that head up Mt. Sentinel on a regular basis. People that love being outside and cherish their easy access to trails as much as they do their access clean air. Our wheels got turning, and it wasn’t long before RUFA Mt. Sentinel was born.

Enjoying a beautiful view during an early-summer smoke-free day on Mt. Sentinel

 

The Runner’s Edge is excited to put on Montana’s first RUFA event, RUFA Mt. Sentinel! Join us on February 22nd, 2020 to ascend Mt. Sentinel for 3, 6, or 12 hours and take a stand for clean air in Missoula. All proceeds from the event will go to Climate Smart Missoula and their work to both address climate change, and provide vulnerable people and groups with HEPA air filters. Whether it’s your first time up Sentinel or your 100th, join us for a wintertime lap (or two, four, or ten) on Missoula’s favorite mountain. Casual hikers/runners trying to summit the mountain once can rub shoulders with those running and walking for 12 hours. It doesn’t matter whether you’re fast or slow, what matters is that our community comes together to take on the task of keeping air clean in our community. All events will finish at the same time (6:00pm) in a celebration of clean air and time well spent outdoors.

Tackling air quality issues is an incredibly challenging endeavor. Climbing a mountain in the winter is too. Join us on February 22nd for a hard, fun, and rewarding day on the trails of Mt. Sentinel to support clean air in Missoula.

RUFA Mt. Sentinel will take place on February 22nd, 2020.

To sign up or for more info, please click HERE.


Jeff Mogavero is a Runner’s Edge employee and RUFA Mt. Sentinel race director. When not running the trails around Missoula, he can be found surfing in the Clark Fork or dancing in his kitchen.

In 2018 we used over 20,000 disposable cups at our events. That’s a lot of trash! Moving forward we are working on ways to host more sustainable, community minded events and part of that is a commitment to reducing waste.

For 2019 all Runner’s Edge races will be entirely cupless!

What this means for you:

-If you are going to want fluids on the course please plan on bringing your own bottle, or collapsible cup. We will still have water and electrolyte drinks at aid stations, just nothing to put them in!

-If you would like to take advantage of pre-race coffee or hot chocolate (event dependent) please plan on bringing your favorite travel mug.

-For post race fluids (recovery drink, water, beer, mimosas, chocolate milk, bloody mary’s, etc.) please remember to bring an extra cup in your travel bag. In case you forget, we will have a fleet of reusable cups for you to borrow for finish line beverages that you can return and we will wash for the next event.

-We will do a better job of marking recycling bins, trash bins, and compost bins. Moving forward any plates, bowls, and flatware that we provide for post-race meals will be compostable. Please be aware of what bin you are tossing items.

Our ultimate goal is to leave an event with less than one bag of trash. Going cupless is one step in the process and we want to help you help us! If you don’t have a bottle option or collapsible cup we will give you a cup if you plan on running one of the Runner’s Edge Trail Series events.

Thank you for helping us reach this goal. If you have any questions please let us know.

 

The Runner’s Edge wants to celebrate our customers and all things running. We couldn’t think of a better way to do this than a summer party up at Marshall Mountain. Join us THIS Saturday, June 2nd between 5-8pm at Marshall Mountain.

We love & appreciate our customers and we know we couldn’t be here without your support of what we do. We wanted to thank you by doing something fun FOR YOU.

This event is a way for you test out trail product(s), have food on us, listen to great music and win some awesome prizes. We offer up an amazing (FREE!) bbq meal and provide some refreshing (FREE!) beverages from Big Sky Brewery. We finish off the night with live music and blowout raffle of goodies. So what are you waiting for? Come join us at the Marshall Mountain Trail Fest!