July 3, 2018
Bully!! - The Gift That Keeps On Giving
Happy Birthday America
Around 120 years ago, America and definitely Europe consisted of mostly the 'landed' and the 'landless' class of people. The landed kept their land. They never or rarely sold. They never or rarely let anyone onto their land to hunt, fish, or farm. The landless often remained landless. At best, they were sharecroppers for the landed. Europe and the eastern part of the United States was so. The West, however, was different. It was still mostly unpopulated of European-origin Americans and the Native Americans were, by the late 1800s, quite few in number. The US Government owned the land because no one else was there to own it.
The West was huge. Since it was mostly unpopulated, the US Government was trying to give land away. To the railroads, to the mining companies, and to other powerful corporations and families who were already part of the landed class. Back then, the government was ready to do land deals.
And not just with the rich. There was an option for the poor and hungry types who had been landless their whole lives. My grandfather was one of them. He had the grit to head west and take advantage of the Homestead Act. He and others got 160 acres of free land in Eastern Montana, but it was a tough gig. No one told them that it hardly ever rained. The soil wasn't the same as in Iowa and Ohio. You couldn't grow the same crops. The yields weren't the same. No one told them that 160 acres wasn't enough even though it seemed like a King's inheritance to them. It turns out that they needed a ton of acres just to feed a couple cows. Many of them failed. They couldn't make a go of it. Most either abandoned their land or, if they were lucky, they sold it. My grandfather gave up his land when he enlisted in the US Army during World War One.
It was the perfect setting for the European model to take hold. The landed could get more land because they had the capital and didn't need to make their living from the land. The US government wanted to get its land into the hands of the people. All the landed needed was a US President who would collude with them and let this happen.
They never saw a short, fat and bespectacled man coming. He had a new idea. He not only did the unthinkable, but also the unprecedented. Instead of selling off federal land to the highest bidder, he sectioned off huge chunks of it and made sure it could never be sold to the landed and always be available for the landless. He pounded a huge NOT FOR SALE sign into the ground.
Can you imagine how pissed off the landed were? This guy didn't care.
Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, changed the world by inventing something called public land. What this means is that me, your race director and grandson of a Homesteader, is a co-owner with all of you of all the land where the Greater Yellowstone Adventure Series (GYAS) races are held, half the land in Madison County, and about 40 percent of all the land in Montana. We also co-own a bunch of land in several other western states (not so much in eastern states).
It's public land. That means it's ours. Please never forget that. And, never let it go. These days there is no room for complacency.
The GYAS is celebrating public land this year. We are working with the Montana Wildlife Federation to showcase the GYAS races as a model use of America's public land. For the double marathon on July 21 and 22, we will have the coolest damn race shirts in the country. These designs celebrate Montana's public lands. The original art work for the shirts can be purchased through an auction. Check out this artwork and review the current bids on our homepage.
The auction proceeds will be split between the artist (majority share) and the Montana Wildlife Federation. Please consider making a bid. By doing so, you will be showing your love of Montana's public land. Email your bid to me. You can also see the original art at the Ennis Chamber of Commerce on Main Street in Ennis.
Of course, we should celebrate public land every day. But today, on America's birthday on the 4th of July, we should celebrate with some extra special fervor. Give thanks that Teddy Roosevelt did what he did for all of us. He gave us a gift that just keeps on giving. Happy Birthday America.
So get out and enjoy America's public land this week. This coming Sunday, July 8, come to Ennis and either take part in the 7th Annual Madison Duathlon or pitch in and help us. Race day signup is allowed. See you in Ennis.
Stay Happy, Healthy, and Always Keep Running Forward with your eyes on Montana's public land.
p.s. There are people who just talk, those who walk the walk, and those who run it. Three time TBA Richard Rose ran it back in 2014.
Check out this video. Happy 4th of July everyone!
The John Colter Club
The John Colter Club is a members-only club for athletes who are or have been:
An inaugural athlete in one of the six GYAS races.
Earned a podium finish (top three) in the overall men and women's category of any GYAS race.
Are a three-time returnee to a GYAS race.
We want to recognize those who went first, those who finished well, and those who just keep coming back. For a membership fee of $30 per year and immense bragging rights for getting in, members receive the following:
A personalized water bottle with the GYAS logo, your name, and the club's name.
Early access. Members get to sign up for the GYAS races before the March 1 opening.
A discount of 15 percent off the entry fee of the race you sign up for.
Do the math and you can figure out that your $30 comes back to you pretty quick. If you qualify and if you want to join an exclusive club of athletes named after Montana's most famous total bad ass, send me an email. Tell me how you qualify. I'll confirm it all and send you the application.