I joined Run Wild Missoula because, after 15 years of running solitude, I wanted to find some folks to run with. Through RWM I have met many runners and made some good friends. But I haven’t been able to actually run with them very often. We talk about running and plan runs, and the volunteer work is a good thing, but it’s still work, and in any case I am no fan of committees.
The thing is, I live in Stevensville and work in Corvallis. An after-work run in Missoula just isn’t practical, and on weekends the last thing I want to do is drive to Missoula when the options for running in the Bitterroot are so much better: miles of rolling dirt roads with breathtaking views of the Bitterroots and Sapphires. And the trails?Enough to last a lifetime.
Someone, I used to think, should organize some runs in the Bitterroot. Eva Dunn-Froebig apparently had the same idea; at the very least, she is the one who asked if I was interested in being that someone who would organize a Bitterroot Running Group. I said, sure; how hard could it be? Pick a course, announce a time, see who shows up. If I feel like it, mark some turns. Or not; whenever I am in charge of a run, I figure less is more: less organization, less planning, less traffic, less worry. I get all the organizing I need as the Registration Director for the Missoula Marathon. When it’s time to run, I just want to play.
Since March, that’s what a few of us down in the Bitterroot have been doing: running the back roads and trails on Sunday mornings. Recently at Bass Creek, we found (and rescued) one injured red crossbill, found two robins’ eggs, and saw thousands of wildflowers: arrow leaf balsam root, lupine, wild hyacinth, penstemon, and other wildflowers whose names I would not know if a botanist from Florence wasn’t with us. In early April we ran through a snow storm in the Lone Rock area, and we’ve toured Sunset Bench east of Stevensville, cruised up and down Chaffin Lane in Corvallis, run on the east side of Hamilton, and discovered some lovely and lightly-traveled roads on the west side of US 93 between Stevi and Victor.
After years of heading to Missoula for RWM events, or wishing I had the time, I reckon it’s time to invite Missoulians to the Bitterroot. The dates and times for the Bitterroot runs will start appearing in the weekly email newsletter, and I welcome queries at firstname.lastname@example.org. The runs always start from a place where toilets are available, and you’ll get a chance to discover the shopping pleasures of the valley. Why, just in Stevensville we have Charbonneau’s Chocolate, the Morningstar Café, and, as a reminder that this is indeed the Bitterroot, an ammo outlet store. Really. We don’t joke about ammo.
So, consider joining us for our next run: Sunday, July 24, in Stevensville. We’ll meet at the southwest corner of the Super 1 just off US 93 and head south on rolling dirt back roads beside lovely meadows at the foot of the Bitterroots. The run is out and back, so distances of anywhere from 4 to 15 miles are available; I’m planning on 8 – 10 miles as I get ready for the Sweathouse Half Marathon in early September.
~ Vic Mortimer