“All I want is for it to rain ALL summer; I would take that over a smoky summer any day.”
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.
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.
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.
Lee Macholz is one of our 2018/2019 RErun ambassadors. She is a stud! After work and family time, she still manages to volunteer and/or run many events through Runners Edge and Run Wild Missoula. We got a new trail shoe called the Cloud Venture. Since Lee rocks the trails, we asked her to test out these shoes and her thoughts are below…
Specs: 6 mm; Neutral; 7.9 oz
I grabbed a pair of Cloudventures just before heading down to Moab, UT for spring break play time with the family. I was set to run the Behind the Rocks 30k and still hadn’t decided which shoes to wear. But since I didn’t have the time to take them out for a test run before the race, I stuck with my Xodus because I was already completely un-trained for the race and felt it was not terribly smart to add new shoes to the mix as well. However, we still had a full week to play after the race and I wore the Cloudventure for the rest of our time running and hiking in the desert. I also raced the Bitterroot Runoff in them last weekend so these shoes have seen some great early-season action.
OnCloud is a new brand to me, I’d seen a few folks in them over the past year or so, but I had not yet tried them on. In the store, my initial impression was that they were stiff and didn’t have much cushion.
This impression didn’t last though. As soon as I got out on the trail with them, they proved to be really responsive and comfortable. I find that I don’t need, or even want, as much cushion in my trail shoes as I do in my road shoes. The Cloudventure has good support throughout the shoe. I can feel the arch support just enough to know that it is helping my foot, but not so much that it is too tall. The arch support does feel like it extends forward more than other shoes I’ve worn. It was noticeable enough to wonder if it would hurt or fatigue my foot, but it didn’t take long to get used to it and by the end of my first run I’d forgotten all about that. I tend to get a couple tender toes, but I have not had that issue yet with these shoes. The rest of the fit is good, with skinny laces that don’t come untied and a soft tongue that doesn’t slip or pinch. And they are really light weight – easily the lightest running shoes I’ve ever worn!
The really noticeable thing about the Cloudventure is the sole. It is really knobby and kind of crazy looking. Most of the cushion for this shoe seems to be in the material of the sole. I am not the lightest on my feed on the downhill but the sole absorbs impact really well. The downhill sections of the
Bitterroot Runoff felt really great in these shoes. Then there is the traction. I love the “Missiongrip” traction on these Cloudventures. Wearing these in Moab was super fun and I felt kind of like spiderman on the rocks in these shoes. They gripped everything – going up and going down. The one thing that annoys me about the sole is that the spacing and depth between the lugs will pick up rather large rocks.
You know the feeling/sound when you get a little rock stuck in the tread of your shoe? Yeah, instead of smaller-than-pea-sized rocks that are usually easy enough to scuff out of your tread without stopping, I get thumb-sized rocks stuck and usually have to reach down and dislodge the rock. I’m not sure yet if that was just a factor of the rocks in Moab, or if that will continue to be an annoyance on the trails
around Missoula. We’ll see.
All in all, I think the Cloudventure is a great trail running shoe. My favorite things about them is how incredibly light they feel and how grippy the soles are. This makes going up and down hills a dream. If you are looking for a new trail shoe, check them out and come join me in chasing clouds in the mountains this summer!
Injuries impact nearly 80% of all runners at some point (Br J Sports Med 2007). While some runners rarely miss a training run or race due to injury, many experience a variety of injuries and/or recurrent injuries. The key to effectively treating and preventing running injuries lies in effectively determining the cause of injury rather than treating the effect or symptoms alone.
The strongest predictors of of running injury include a prior history of running injury, running throughout the year without a break, and a rapid increase in running mileage of >10% per week (Br J Sports Med 2007).
Once compensatory movement patterns are addressed through a comprehensive physical therapy evaluation, underlying strength and mobility deficits can be effectively addressed.
If you are looking to improve your running efficiency or are plagued by nagging or recurrent running injuries, a running analysis is a great place to start. Sapphire PT has four physical therapists trained in running analysis. Sapphire PT provides on-site, real-time 2D running gait analysis. We are excited to provide this informative, interactive, diagnostic technology in our Missoula PT clinic. While an iPhone or iPad is capable of recording treadmill running for basic analysis, high-speed camera technology and interpretive software are necessary to objectively quantify joint angles quality of movement. Utilizing 2D video running analysis during a physical
therapy evaluation takes the guesswork out of determining the underlying cause of movement inefficiency and/or injury. Sapphire PT uses the Simi Aktisys 2D running analysis system. Developed in Germany, the Simi Aktisys software records joint angles along the frontal (anterior and posterior views) and sagittal (side) planes of motion as a person runs. Planes of movement and joint ankles (ankle, knee, hip, trunk) are recorded and observed as a person runs. The software analyses the measured video data and an easy to read, usable PDF
report is produced for the runner and physical therapist. Colored LED markers on key body landmarks are read by two high-speed cameras which provide real-time feedback for both the runner and the physical therapist. We also utilize the Run Scribe accelerometer system which accurately measures impact force, pronation angle, pronation velocity. Accelerometer data often reveals compensations for pain, prior injury, or weakness and is used in conjunction with our 2D video system.
Once a compensatory movement pattern is recorded, the runner can return to the treadmill and make changes in his or her running mechanics while observing themselves in real-time on the monitor screen. Coupled with a wireless EMG (electromyography) system, runners can then focus on strengthening weak muscles which play a role in their unique running compensation. Walking biomechanics is fairly universal in healthy individuals, but running biomechanics is diverse and very difficult to accurately assess visually or with a hand-held recording device. The Sapphire Physical Therapy staff looks forward to helping Missoula runners improve their running efficiency and determining the underlying cause of recurrent injuries.
Running analysis is useful for healthy athletes as well by improving running efficiency. Our website (sapphirept.com) has a complete list of our running services. Call Sapphire Physical Therapy (549-5283) to schedule your video running analysis or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for additional information.
John Fiore, PT
So you’ve committed to jumping in your first race, you’re all trained up for the big day, have the shoes, the watch, the hat, and the anti-chafe stuff that your best friend said is vital. But now what?
Race day can be daunting. Looking at the scene when you pull into the parking lot can be overwhelming with fast looking runners jogging about, and hundreds of people all milling around a collection of brightly colored pop-up tents. Where are you supposed to go? What are you supposed to do for the next 15 minutes before the gun goes off?
Here’s how to navigate race morning stress free…
- Pick up your bib number – The first thing I do when I arrive at a race is pick up my bib (if you picked it up at a packet pickup the day before you can ignore this step). Aside from your racing outfit that you arrived with, your bib is the most important thing. I then take my bib and head back to the car, and pin my bib to my shirt in the exactly right, OCD measurements I prefer.
- Find a bathroom – You’ll be surprised how many times you’ll want to use the bathroom before the gun goes off. It’s best to get in line early and get one trip out of the way. Plus then you know where it is. Sometimes races have “secret” bathrooms: a lone porta potty that’s tucked behind a tree left over from the golf tournament the day before or construction on the neighbor’s house. These are gold. No lines = no stress. Get the lay of the bathroom landscape early, especially in big races.
- Warm-up and/or make friends – Racing is about community. Nothing calms me down before a race quite like a warm-up with friends. Fortunately in Missoula every race has a bunch of people you will recognize, and if you don’t there are a bunch of people who want to be your friend. Ask someone to go on an easy 5-10 minute jog to get those muscles warmed up. OR find your friends, tell jokes, tell stories, make new
friends, and generally talk about anything except the race for a while.
- Get to the starting line – About 5 minutes before the start of the race (10 minutes in massive races) starting getting into the starting corral. This is your last chance to check and make sure you have everything: shoes tied, bib on, sunglasses, socks you haven’t washed since middle school, etc. I like to find my lucky “spot” in the corral where I am comfortable. Defend your space.
- Bang! – When the gun goes off, just have fun! Run or walk like you’ve trained. This is the easiest part of the day. When you cross the finish line, have more fun
- Enjoy the day – Congratulations! You just finished your first race. Now it’s time to hang out, cheer on other finishers, and tell valiant tales of your time out on the course. This is what makes races fun: the community afterwards. Some of my dearest friends I met after races. Set up a running date for next week, then sign up for another race before you have time to question your judgement!
If you are considering signing up for your first race I would highly recommend the Run Like a Mother 5k (for women), or the Mountain to Meadow 5k, 10k, and 1/2 Marathon. Both are very laid back and have a fantastic post-race vibe (meaning food!).
See you out on there,
Forrest is a manager and race director at Runner’s Edge, and coaches local adults. He has been racing competitively for the last 18 years and often struggles with remaining calm before races.
This time of year we are all playing the guessing game of what trail are clear of snow and what still has thigh deep post holes designed to cut shins with crystalized snow.
Here’s a few ideas in and around Missoula that may keep you running snow free. Please remember that if you do encounter mud, snow, or puddles stay on the trail! Run over the snow, through mud, and ankle deep in that puddle. If you have any recommendations to add please let me know!
- North Hills – the north hills/waterworks area is almost completely devoid of the white stuff. One or two drifts near the Homestead are easily navigable over the top, otherwise the North Hills are free.
- South face of Jumbo – the Jumbo South Zone is now open! Everything from the Cherry Street Trailhead is free of snow and pretty dry. If you’re planning on pushing over the summit to the saddle, however, be prepared for some deep postholing!
- Blue Mountain – most of the lower trails are free of snow. Depending on how high you go keep an eye out for lingering snow banks and wet trail. You’re gonna get wet!
- Rattlesnake – A lot of the lower Rattlesnake Recreation area is snow free, but there is some ice tucked in shady spots. The south facing trails above Sawmill Gul
ch are surprisingly dry.
- Larry Creek Loop – Larry Creek is a hidden little gem at the mouth of Bass Creek. It’s south facing and melts out quick. This six mile loop is worth the drive.
- Sentinel – Mount Sentinel is clear to both summits and actually dusty in a few spots now. Seeps at the bottom of the Mo-Z trail add some moisture, but pretty much everything on Sentinel is snow free, just be cautious when considering adding a beacon lap or descending the upper part of Smokejumper.
- Little Park Creek/Inez Creek – both of these trailheads up Miller Creek Road melt out early and offer gradual climbs uphill. Be aware that you are sharing these trails with tics, but it’s still very much worth it!
- Barmeyer Trail – Is pretty easily traveled now, plus if you make it to the lookout you can see the work Montana Trail Crew just did to re-veg the road cut.
If you have any questions on where these trails are either give us a call, or take a look at the Cairn Cartography map of the area (the featured image). We can point them out to you on the map as well!
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