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July 13, 2018

Flower Power - If you see a world of beauty, we will have beauty

If you see beauty, we will have a beautiful world


Snowpack.  Montanans talk about the weather quite often, at least as much as everyone else in the world.  However, many of us focus on just one aspect of it.  Snowpack.


From the first skiff of snow as early as September to spring snow storms as late as June, Montana snow accumulates, storm upon storm, into high drifts and deep packs high up in the mountains.  If the snowpack is good, say around 100% of average or more, the snow melts, ideally slowly, and distributes water that feeds creeks, rivers, valley bottoms, and forests.  Naturally, this leads to enough water for crops, good grass for wildlife and cattle, a steady flow for our rivers, and a decent chance of a not-too-terrible wildfire season in this age of climate change. 


If the snowpack is poor, none of those things happen.  Instead, we get shitty yields, need to import hay, the fishing sucks in August, and the forests become tinderboxes waiting to explode.


Snowpack is a big deal in Montana.


So here's the Greater Yellowstone Adventure Series snowpack report for Southwest Montana.  The snowpack is good.  We're above 100%.  Life is beautiful.


We saw this first hand.  The Gravelly Range Road in the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest opens on July 2.  We toured the road on July 5 to assess the routes for the Madison Marathon and Big Sky Marathon.   We also saw another piece of our beautiful world that likes a good snowpack.





Wildflowers.  The Gravelly Range is covered with them.  There are a few hundred species of wildflowers on the range.  The US Forest Service hosts a wildflower tour to explain it all.  They were also up there on the 5th talking flowers to around 100 people. 


Photos in a small newsletter cannot do justice to these wildflowers.  You have to see them for yourself.  You need to get your Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music game face on.  You are going to be blown away if you're here for Montana's only double marathon weekend.




Your race directors on Monument Ridge, the highest point on the Madison Marathon.  This was on July 5, two days after the road opened, and with the several hundred varieties of wildflowers in bloom.  As a test, the RD on the right ran a single mile (Mile 5 to 6 which is over 9,200 feet in elevation) with a strong wind at his back in 6:33.  The RD on the left did the same mile while drinking a beer and eating Doritos in a non-wind aided 2:35...... while driving a truck.


This past week we have been camped out on public land near Glacier Park.  It's been beautiful.  We have also been fortunate to find a couple bars to watch the World Cup semi-finals.  We watched France beat a determined Belgian side.  The next day's match, England v. Croatia, was closer to my heart.  I have a lot of English friends.  I also have a Croatian friend and a love of the underdog.  When a nation of four million people goes up against one of 53 million, this Montanan finds it hard to pull for the big dog.  Croatia won in extra time.  It was incredible.  This Montanan's heart felt a pang for England, but my eyes welled with tears for Croatia.  It was such a privilege to witness the match.


This is the power of sports.  It's the power of community.  We have something like this in Southwest Montana.  It's called Flower Power and we have it at the GYAS.


Over this coming double marathon weekend, you will all have the privilege of running on public land.  After all, it's yours.  You will also have the privilege of witnessing the beauty of Montana's wildflowers during a good snowpack year.  You will almost certainly get a PW.  But with near certainty, I predict that you won't care about your time because these routes are just so goddamn beautiful.


In the world of marathons, we are Croatia.  We, all of us, will succeed.  We will fill hearts, bring tears to eyes, and regenerate souls.


The ugliness that has spewed around the world because of polarizing politics and social issues cannot survive at high elevations.   Ennis is 5,000 feet above the oceans.  The marathons are run at 9,000 feet.  Ugliness and meanness, at least for this coming double marathon weekend, die out way below 5,000.  We're a safe zone.


You need a break from ugly?  Embrace Flower Power.  Come to Southwest Montana.  Come run amid millions and millions of wildflowers.  Re-energize your soul.   If you can't run, please consider volunteering.  We need the help.


If we see a world that needs walls, we build walls.  If we see a world of beauty, we build on beauty.  We have beauty.  Come experience this for yourself in Southwest Montana.


Stay Happy, Healthy, and Keep Running Forward and taking time to smell the flowers.





p.s.   Congratulations to Neal Andrews and Reagan Colyer for their wins at the 7th Annual Madison Duathlon.  More to come on that incredible day.

The John Colter Club

The John Colter Club is a members-only club for athletes who are or have been:

  1. An inaugural athlete in one of the six GYAS races. 

  2. Earned a podium finish (top three) in the overall men and women's category of any GYAS race. 

  3. 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:

  1. personalized water bottle with the GYAS logo, your name, and the club's name. 

  2. Early access.  Members get to sign up for the GYAS races before the March 1 opening. 

  3. 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. 

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