The Greater Yellowstone Adventure Series (GYAS) is a set of competitive athletic races located in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. It is a limited liability company owned by Sam Korsmoe who is the race director. The series currently consists of the Madison River Run, Madison Duathlon, Madison Marathon, Big Sky Marathon, Madison Triathlon, and more races are on the way.
For many years, the Madison River Run was directed by local citizens and generally attracted 50 to 60 mostly local runners. It was established more as a fun run than an organized competitive event. With the GYAS, we are partnering with Willies Distillery, a small batch distillery in Ennis, during its annual spring Pig Roast. So here’s a chance to do a 5K, take part in a pig roast, and taste some of Montana’s finest spirits at Willies Distillery in downtown Ennis. It’s the ‘Water to Whiskey’ 5K because the race starts literally right above the Madison River and finishes at Willies Distillery.
The Madison Duathlon (14 mile bike ride and a 7 mile run) is a point-to-point race that starts in Ennis and finishes in Virginia City. It’s one of a very few point-to-point duathlons in Montana. The number of participants has consistently grown since its inaugural race in 2012. There is no limit to its capacity. The route is on gravel roads through the mountains and on BLM property. The starting line is next to the banks of the Madison River and the finish line is right in front of the Madison County Courthouse in Virginia City. This is the oldest operating court house in the State of Montana.
The Madison Marathon (full, half and team marathon races) has been extremely successful and regularly sells out. There is a cap of 200 runners (mandated by the US Forest Service). The race is run on top of the Gravelly Range in the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest. It is the ‘Highest Road Marathon on Planet Earth’ because the starting line is at 9,250 feet above sea level and the race averages 9,000 feet in elevation. The entire route is on a good quality gravel road. It regularly attracts from around 30 states and has become a ‘bucket list’ destination due to its extreme altitude and beauty.
The Big Sky Marathon is the result of our success with the Madison Marathon. We had marathoners from around the world screaming for a double so we gave it to them. Why run just one marathon over a weekend when you can run two? Why not earn Four Stars as a Marathon Maniac over the course of 48 hours vs. possibly earning one star only if all your other stars line up. So, we offered this new marathon and it’s a doozy. It starts at around 8,600 feet above sea level on the route of the Madison Marathon, and it goes, down, down, down to the town of Ennis on the banks of the Madison River. It has a net drop of 3,651 feet making it the ‘Second Longest Downhill Road Marathon on Planet Earth.’
The Madison Triathlon is an Olympic Distance Triathlon (Swim – 1,200 yards, Bike – 23 miles, and Run – 6 miles). It starts with an open water swim in Ennis Lake, continues with a 23 mile bike ride on Highway 287 to Harrison, and concludes with a six mile run to Pony, Montana. It is one of a very few Olympic distance tris in Montana and perhaps the only point-to-point triathlon in the state. It’s also at altitude with an average of over 5,000 feet above sea level throughout the race.
Want to be a TBA? The combination of completing the Madison Duathlon, Madison Marathon, and Madison Triathlon within one summer has been marketed as the Madison Trifecta. For those athletes who do all three events within one year, they are considered T.B.As (total bad asses). They get special prizes, notoriety, and have one awesome notch on their belts that they can brag about forever. It’s becoming an exceptionally unique badge of honor among regional athletes to accomplish all three events and earn a TBA award.
The vision for the Greater Yellowstone Adventure Series is to add more races over the next several years. These will be sporting events that take good advantage of the Yellowstone environment and effectively use the Yellowstone brand name in all its marketing.
The races will be connected to nonprofit causes. Check out the ‘Turn The Corner’ page on this website. Sponsors will be cultivated for each event. The events will also be set up to encourage a bundling of services and products around each event to encourage family participation even if just one family member is participating as an athlete. The ideal scenario is an out-of-state athlete who arrives with his/her family to participate in a GYAS event and then they spend an additional week or two in the Yellowstone area for recreation, education, and business.
The intent is to make the Yellowstone region a place for vacations as well as a sports destination. The race participants will ideally mix a family vacation with a ‘bucket list’ event from the Yellowstone sporting world. We also hope many participants will link their participation in these events to their own favorite causes and charities. In other words, they will make these races count for something more than their own personal accomplishment and gain. They will be running for others. Now, that’s a pretty cool race series in our opinion. Thanks for reading.