Sweatin' Season

Where to get racy this summer

With mud season behind us, it’s time to get outside and enjoy the thousands of trail miles and vertical feet that Montana has to offer. Drop those weights, get away from the sweaty guy on the elliptical, and challenge yourself to a competitive outdoor race. Competition doesn’t have to be a down-and-dirty bloodbath reserved for elite athletes—it can be you against you and you alone. Challenge yourself to a better time than last year, to finishing your first 5k, or to running the section of trail you usually walk.

There are plenty of races around southwest Montana designed for beginners, elites, crazies, and every athlete in between. You can find races for runners, swimmers, or cyclists; short sprints and endurance races; rocky scrambles and muddy obstacle runs. You might also choose a race based on the quality of its after-party—just an idea. Now hit the trails.

Madison Trifecta
Duathlon, Marathon, Triathlon

The Madison Trifecta is Montana’s ultimate test of endurance, and while the marathon is the centerpiece of the series, each event is unique and challenging in its own right. The duathlon features a 14-mile bike and 7-mile run, the marathon is the nation’s highest starting at over 9,000 feet, and the triathlon starts in Montana’s second highest range—the Madison—and ends in the Tobacco Roots. Complete all three in the same summer and earn yourself a T.B.A. award—that’s Total Bad Ass, which is what you’ll be.  Register at themadisonmarathon.com.

Mystic Race
Mountain Biking
40 miles

New to the race scene, but backed by years of combined experience from the race directors, this mountain-bike race will leave even the most experienced riders humbled and awestruck from jaw-dropping views in the Gallatin National Forest. The adventure starts at Bear Canyon and travels a burly 40 miles—expect steep ridgelines, winding drainages, and alpine-lake vistas while climbing over 7,000 feet. Be among the select few who can say they were the first to accept the Mystic Race challenge. mysticrace.com.

Obstacle Run
3 miles

A fundraiser for Bozeman’s Regional Park, the Bozemonster has water, mud, obstacles, advice to “duct-tape your shoes,” and more weirdness from there. Hop, climb, swim, and splash your way through this one-of-a-kind event. Roar into the park with your testosterone-packed posse, or bring the whole family for the kid-friendly Dino Dash. bozemonster.com.

Night Owl Run
Road Race
4 miles

A popular evening run/walk in Livingston, the community-oriented Night Owl Run offers plenty of prizes (including one for best owl costume and a random 15th place prize), a post-race BBQ, and a pint glass (with beer) for participants 21 and over. Proceeds go to Livingston charities such as community gardens, after-school programs, and the local food bank. The Night Owl is a pleasant break from sweltering midday runs. nightowlrun.com.

The Rut
Trail Race
50k (31 miles), 12k (7.5 miles); Vk (2.4 miles)

In just its second year, the Rut has gained a reputation as one of the most challenging and exciting races in the world. The 50k route traverses rocky scree fields, follows narrow singletrack, and goes up and over Lone Peak—that’s right, up and over. Don’t panic—the 50k filled up quickly with the best of the best, but the 12k promises to be just as fun and extremely challenging in its own right. The “Vk” is a vertical kilometer, with a lung-busting 3,280 vertical feet gained in under three miles. Whichever distance you choose, you’ll enjoy the mountains and catch glimpses of big-league runners—the international Skyrunners World Series rounds out their world tour in our own back yard. runtherut.com.