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

 

Events with thousands of runners can use a lot of cups. That’s why all of our events are cup-less! Photo: Votography Images

Sustainability at the Runner’s Edge

At the Runner’s Edge, we care about the planet. Like you, we love playing outside and enjoying the incredible outdoor opportunities in Missoula. We take pride in our commitment to environmental initiatives in store, at events, and with the brands that we carry. We are continually striving to reduce waste in store and support brands that treat the world how we want it to be treated.

Supporting Brands that Care

Ashley sporting our new RE-branded t-shirts from Saucony. Made from 70% recycled polyester!

The apparel industry is one of the biggest global contributors to climate change. But, as consumers you can make choices that reduce the impact of the apparel you purchase. As a store, the Runner’s Edge tries to make these choices as easy possible. Apparel buyer Vicky Mix says she “has focused on purchasing sustainable products” in recent years. What does this mean? “I check the company’s mission, what efforts are they doing, and if it fits for us, that’s where we’re gonna go!”. The result is that most of the apparel in our store is made from recycled polyester!

Did you know?
The Runner’s Edge carries Perspective Fitwear. This lady’s clothing company uses Good Human Tech™ fabric that incorporates an innovative landfill-degradable technology that enables pieces to fully decompose in 3 years. Don’t worry- this doesn’t impact the quality or durability of pieces while they’re worn! Drop by the store to check them out!

Shoes and the Fit Process

Have you ever noticed what we do with the cardboard inserts that come out of your shoes when helping you find the perfect pair of sneakers? We place all box/shoe stuffings and papers in a bin to be sorted into recyclables and non-recyclables. By doing this, we can drastically reduce the amount of waste we throw in our dumpster each day. And the shoes we have? The Runner’s Edge makes it clear to brands that we want to carry shoes with recycled content made in a way that limits their impact on the environment. The Saucony Endorphin Speed will soon sport 100% recycled polyester in the entire upper material, and recycled content in almost every other part of the shoe. In 2019, the use of recycled polyester in Hoka ONE ONE shoes diverted approximately 14,900,000 bottles from landfills, saving 19.1 million MegaJoules (MJs) of energy, 220.2 million gallons of water, and over 2 million pounds of carbon dioxide (source). We are excited to continue supporting brands that strive to reduce their environmental impact. 

Upcycled, reusable bags made from extra event t-shirts. Heck yeah!

No More Plastic Bags!

A few months ago, we ran out of plastic bags at the store. We knew our customers would occasionally need a way to carry a collection of running goodies. We got creative and decided to upcycle year’s of extra race t-shirts into reusable bags! Lisa Walser hand makes every bag. Read more here. Please leave these bags for customers who are in a pinch and forgot a bag. The best thing you can do to help us (and the planet!) is to bring your own bag or opt out of a bag. If you do take one of our reusable bags, please reuse it as much as possible. You can even bring it back so we can offer it to another customer!

 

Shoe Donations

Shoe donation box alongside the bin we use to collect recyclable shoe inserts

Every few weeks, we pack up a big box of many dozens of used shoes to send off to the MORE Foundation Group. What happens to those shoes? According to the MORE Foundation Group, “proceeds regenerate forests and jump start small farming co-ops in needy regions.” They utilize a “value added, multi-faceted approach to shoe recycling. Instead of 100 years decomposing in landfills, the donated shoes are sold to participating vendors in developing countries. This creates retail jobs while stimulating free enterprise. MORE provides basic supplies, tools, seeds, and agroforestry training to poor farming families and rural villages” (source). If you have old shoes that still have some life in them, bring them by the store to donate!

Waste-less Events

Post-race food is awesome. Tastes even better when paired with compostable flatware!

In 2018, we gave out over 20,000 cups to participants of our races. That’s a LOT of cups. We decided it was too many, and in 2019 transitioned our races to be cupless. In addition, every piece of cutlery, plate, or bowl we give you for your post-race meal is 100% compostable! At every race we have recycling bins and compost bins so that you can dispose of your waste properly and reduce the load that heads to the landfill. Check out our cup-less policy here!

Did you know?
In 2020 the Runner’s Edge started Running Up for Air Mt. Sentinel. A part of the Up for Air Series, this event challenges participants to climb Mt. Sentinel as many times as possible in 3, 6, or 12 hours in the dead of winter. All proceeds of this event support Climate Smart Missoula and their initiatives to reduce air pollution and improve climate resiliency in Missoula

Our staff

A happy RE staff out enjoying the trails

We work hard as a staff to individually and collectively reduce our footprints. It’s not uncommon to have three or more bikes parked downstairs in the basement from morning commutes. To reduce the amount of trash we produce, we have a compost bin on-site for employees. That means all those Five on Black bowls (they’re compostable!), apple cores, and coffee grounds turn into soil instead of ending up in a landfill. In addition, the Runner’s Edge offers its employees free glass recycling.

Questions or Comments?

We’d love to hear from you! If you have ideas for how we can further improve our sustainability efforts, let us know! If you want to know how to get involved, please reach out. Send Jeff an email at jeffm@runnersedgemt.com with any questions, comments, or concerns! Thanks for shopping local 🙂

Lisa Walser sewing a t-shirt bag

By: Jeff Mogavero

What do you do when you find yourself faced with hundreds of t-shirts that no one wants? After years of events our storage unit was overflowing with unclaimed race t-shirts. Our first thought was to donate the shirts, but no organizations in town needed shirts this year. With a growing mountain of shirts, we decided to get creative by whipping out the scissors and sewing machine. In turn, we addressed more problems than just an overabundance of t-shirts.

For years we’ve been working through a surplus of giant plastic bags, eagerly awaiting the day they would run out and we could come up with a more environmentally friendly solution. If you’ve been in the store recently, you may have noticed that we no longer give out plastic bags. And if you’ve been in our storage unit recently, you may have also noticed that all of our extra t-shirts are gone. In the past few months, we’ve been cutting and sewing old race t-shirts to turn them into reusable bags! We are so excited about this opportunity to reduce waste and provide a useful product to customers who forget their reusable bags. 

While we’re incredibly happy to be reducing the amount of plastic waste our store contributes to the world, we want to remind everyone that using our new bags is not the solution. The t-shirt bags are available to those who need them, but ideally customers will opt to not use a bag, or simply bring their own bag. Our goal is to reduce waste, not create another form of waste!

Speaking of waste, you might be wondering what happens to all of the scrap fabric from our bags. Our sewer extraordinaire, Lisa Walser, came up with a brilliant solution: dog beds! Once she has enough scraps, Lisa stuffs them all in a shirt and sews it shut, making a comfy dog bed to be donated to the Humane Society. 

The best part of our new bags? If you’re in a pinch and need a sleeveless shirt, just cut off the bottom of your bag and BOOM, you have a tank top!

Drop by the store to check out the new bags, but please bring your own! We have the t-shirt bags as backups, but a limited supply that we hope will last a very long time!

A very happy Dominic enjoying a t-shirt doggy bed