Epic Elevations and Scenic Views: Run, Climb and Descend

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The course runs along the Eastern border of Glacier National Park, with a 5-mile climb and a scenic downhill finish. Take in the incredible sights of Glacier National Park, the prairies, and Two Medicine Lake as you conquer Looking Glass Hill. Cross the finish line on the front lawn of the historic Glacier Park Lodge.

Rise to the Occasion: Navigating the Initial 5-Mile Climb

Welcome to Big Sky Country, where the vast, open landscapes and endless horizons offer a runner’s dream come true. Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or a casual jogger, Montana’s breathtaking scenery and diverse trails provide the perfect backdrop for your next adventure.

Morning sunrises in Big Sky Country are something else!

If you have participated in a Vacation Races experience, you know to expect the following:

  1. An early start time – 6:00 am
  2. Remote location – a 1.5 hour drive to start line from our lodge. There are options to stay overnight on the campsite
  3. Runners have 4 hours (and many need it) to complete the course
  4. A once in a lifetime adventure

This is a challenging course! The steady incline up the first 5 miles begins at 5,000 feet so come ready when that gun goes off.

Don’t be fooled by appearances! Mile 1 may seem flat, but it’s a gradual climb that sets the tone for the rest of the race.

This course is renowned for its formidable 4 out of 4 stars rating in difficulty, and it doesn’t disappoint. The inclines are tough, testing every muscle and willpower. But amidst the grueling climb, I was surrounded by the splendor of mountains rising endlessly into the distance stretching to the horizon.

Mile 3 – The sheer magnitude of the landscape was a humbling reminder of nature’s power and beauty.
Mile 4 – For perspective: These mountains are colossal, their size and grandeur impossible to ignore.

Mile 5 of the race presents one of its toughest challenges: a grueling ascent to a peak elevation of 5,980 feet. This part of the course demands both physical endurance and mental fortitude as runners push themselves to conquer the steep incline.

Mile 5 – Two Medicine lake: Nature’s masterpiece at its finest.

From Summit to Valley: A welcome descent for miles 6-9

What goes up, must eventually come down. The increased speed and impact can put added strain on muscles and joints, requiring greater control and balance to navigate safely. Many runners, myself included, find that running downhill can be more demanding and potentially riskier than the uphill climb.

Mile 7: Guided by the light and knocking out mile after mile at too rapid a pace

As with most things in races, sometimes the euphoria of the run can be interrupted by unexpected challenges. Despite my best efforts, I experienced a familiar setback between miles 8-9: cramping calves. Both of them. I had pushed the pace a bit too hard, and hydration, a key component often overlooked, may have played a role.

For those of you who are may be newbies Vacation Races, they are eco-friendly and supply runners with a mini-neoprene cup for water. As we all know, these national parks are national treasures and the Race Director and his team do a great job of respecting these protected areas.

Mile 9: Hydration is key kids! For those wondering, there are water stations at miles 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 12.

Closing the Gap: Miles 10-13.1 and the Journey to Glacier Park Lodge

In the face of adversity, I found resilience. Although my calves temporarily seized up, I refused to let it derail my race. With a blend of grit and experience, as I approached the semi-flat stretch of the course with 5K to go, I felt a surge of determination.

With each gaining mile, I felt my adrenaline kicking in. As I caught sight of the Glacier Park Lodge in the distance, a wave of excitement washed over me. State #34 was on the horizon, and the realization that I was about to complete another state in my running quest filled me with pride. With the lodge as my beacon, I pushed myself harder, eager to cross the finish line and add another chapter to my running story.

With the lodge as my beacon, I pushed myself harder, eager to cross the finish line and add another chapter to my running story.

Despite having run over 70 races, the feeling of completing a race, especially one as challenging as this, never loses its magic. The sense of achievement, the adrenaline, the sheer euphoria—it’s all part of what makes running so special to me.

But beyond personal triumph, I am grateful for the opportunity to raise awareness for dementia research with every race I run. It’s a cause close to my heart, and I’m proud to use my passion for running to make a difference.

From Glacier Park Lodge to the mancave wall, another race conquered, another medal earned
One of the most clicked on images in my blogs is the race bling, so here you go running fans.
Savoring the sweet taste of a celebratory pint and a backdrop that’s as big as my dreams

Gratitude in Motion: Acknowledging Special Supporters Along My Journey

Thank you to my good friend, Brad Conner, for flying across the country, driving over 1,000 miles for our adventures, and cheering me on during race day!
A heartfelt gratitude to Mimi and Larry Prussack for their incredible hospitality! You’ve made Big Sky Country feel like home.

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