Race Roundup

Running and riding across southwest Montana.

The snow is melting. It's time to lace up the shoes, mix up the electrolytes, and hit the trails. Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, races happen all over southwest Montana. From casual jaunts around town to grueling mountain suffer-fests, there's a race for everybody. Here's a selection of our favorites.

May

Don't Fence Me In
Race date: May 11
Type: Trail run, hike, or dog walk
Distance: 3.2, 7.2, or 18.5 miles
Cost: $30-$100
Difficulty: Easy to hard

Kick off the trail-running season on Helena's legendary South Hills trail system. This race began over two decades ago as a small gathering to show support for open space. It's now a major recreation event for people (and dogs) of all ages. No matter what event you undertake, you'll join a community celebration of open space, wildlands, and trail running. Cross the finish line at Pioneer Park and join a heartwarming party with food, live music, and family-friendly fun.

Bridger Ridge Run
Registration deadline: May 5 - May 19, 2024
Race date: August 10
Type: Trail run
Distance: 20 miles
Cost: $90
Difficulty: Hard

Although the race doesn't take place until August, the coveted Bridger Ridge Run has a registration deadline of May 19. This is perhaps the most iconic race in southwest Montana—its aesthetic route across the Bridger skyline is unmatched in elegance. Due to the confined nature of the ridgeline, the Ridge Run is limited to 250 runners. Runners are selected through a lottery system, but there are opportunities available to tilt the odds in your favor. To learn more, read up on the entry instructions here. Take a trip back in time with a rundown on the Ridge Run from the first-ever issue of Outside Bozeman, and cherish the fact that the race hasn't changed much since then.

Baldy Blitz
Race date: May 18
Type: Trail run
Distance: 8 miles
Cost: $20
Difficulty: Medium

Battle your way to the top of Mount Baldy from the M trailhead through unpredictable weather, snow, mud, rain, blizzards, post-holing, and/or winds strong enough to blow you off your feet. 4,300 vertical feet up, then straight back down the way you came. Sound like fun? You bet it is.

Frank Newman Spring Marathon
Race date: May 18
Type: Road run
Distance: 13.1 or 26.2 miles
Cost: $5
Difficulty: Medium to hard

Take in the springtime air with a jaunt from the Bridgers to Livingston, with various options depending on whether you prefer running uphill or downhill. You won't find a better race with an entry fee of only $5.

June

Old Gabe 30k/55k
Race date: June 15
Type: Trail run
Distance: 20 or 34 miles
Cost: $65-$75
Difficulty: Hard

Looking for a low-key soul-crusher? Look no further than Old Gabe. This race tours the western Bridgers for an immense amount of vertical gain at either a 30k or 55k distance. Hope your quads are feeling strong!

24 Hours of Elk Basin
Race date: June 15-16
Type: Trail run & mountain bike
Distance: 6-mile lap (run), 9-mile lap (bike)
Cost: $50-$550
Difficulty: Easy to extreme

This outdoor celebration has something for everyone. Set in Elk Basin in the dry hills outside of Red Lodge, you can go as far as you'd like in 24 hours at this race. There's a bike course and a run course—teams of anywhere from one to eight participants try to rack up the greatest number of laps. Whether you're racing or not, you can enjoy a catered dinner and breakfast. There's live music in the evening, and a kids' race with prizes for all kiddos.

Cross Cut 20k
Race date: June 22
Type: Trail run
Distance: 12.4 miles
Cost: $70
Difficulty: Medium

Take a summertime tour of Bridger Bowl in this quasi-out-and-back race set with aid stations and a catered lunch at the finish line. The course is mostly on singletrack trail, with some sections through tall grass. Raffle prizes will surely be flyin'.

Wulfman's CDT 14k
Race date: June 22
Type: Trail run
Distance: 8.7 miles
Cost: $35
Difficulty: Medium

A point-to-point 14k race on the Continental Divide Trail between Homestake Pass and Pipestone Pass in Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. The race is run from Homestake to Pipestone in even years, and in the opposite direction in odd years. Wulfman's is put on by the Butte Piss & Moan Runners.

Montana Tour 2024
Race date: June 23-28
Type: Mixed-surface bike race
Distance: 185 or 370 miles
Cost: $875-1,575
Difficulty: Hard

This tour gives you three or six days of riding alongside the Absaroka, Beartooth, Crazy, and Bridger mountain ranges. The routes feature gravel, dirt, and paved roads—fully-supported with meals, showers, route support, and camping space or hotels available. Tent Sherpa service is available, and includes a set-up tent with sleeping pad and baggage service to the tent.

July

Beartooth Run
Race date: July 6
Type: Road run
Distance: 3.1, 6.2, or 13.1 miles
Cost: $35-$65
Difficulty: Easy to medium

A race so scenic, you'll forget you're running above 10,000 feet. But in fact, it's the highest 5k and 10k road race in the USA. Stride along the paved Beartooth Highway, with each of three distance options taking you up and over the crest of Beartooth Pass. Kids can sign up for any distance at $25. Adults earn a beer ticket for Red Lodge Ales, good for the weekend.

Bangtail Divide 38k
Race date: July 6
Type: Trail run
Distance: 23.4 miles
Cost: $75
Difficulty: Hard

This course runs the length of the Bangtail Divide Trail, from Stone Creek to Brackett Creek. The course has 3,000 feet of total elevation gain, so hopefully your legs are feeling strong. A shuttle will be provided for all racers.

Madison Triathlon
Race date: July 6
Type: Swim, bike, run
Distance: .7-mile swim, 25-mile bike, 6.2-mile run
Cost: $85
Difficulty: Hard

This three-part race takes you across the Madison Valley, from Ennis Lake to Pony. It's an Olympic-distance triathlon, and will provide a challenge for most athletes, but finishing is within reach for any fit mountain folk. Combine it with the Madison Duathlon and Madison Marathon to complete the Madison Trifecta and earn T.B.A. status (Total Bad-Ass). Use code OB2024 for 10% off on registration.

Madison Duathlon
Race date: July 7
Type: Run, bike, run
Distance: 2-mile run, 25-mile bike, 6.2-mile run
Cost: $85
Difficulty: Hard

Interested in a multisport race, but not so keen on swimming? The Madison Duathlon is right up your alley. Essentially an Olympic-distance triathlon with a short run in place of the swim, the course takes landlubbers from downtown Ennis to Virginia City. Use code OB2024 for 10% off on registration.

Madison Marathon
Race date: July 13
Type: Dirt-road run
Distance: 13.1 or 26.2 miles
Cost: $90-120
Difficulty: Medium to hard

As one of the highest road-marathons in the world, the Madison Marathon has borne out the race organizers' boast that you're almost guaranteed a "personal worst" time. But you won't care, because you're not there to set records. You're there for the pristine alpine environment, astounding mountain scenery, and intimate camaraderie of a race capped at 150 entrants. There's also a half-marathon option if you're looking for something more casual. Use code OB2024 for 10% off on registration.

Teton Mountain Runs
Race date: July 13 - 14
Type: Run
Distance: 15k, 30k, or 50k
Cost: $65-$139
Difficulty: Medium to hard

Race through the high alpine of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The race courses will leave you breathless as you traverse the mountain and take in jaw-dropping views of the Grand Teton. Wildflowers are abundant along the courses, and fresh waffles from Corbet's Cabin are provided to 50k and 30k racers at the Top of the World.

Big Sky Marathon
Race date: July 14
Type: Dirt-road and trail run
Distance: 13.1 or 26.2 miles
Cost: $90-120
Difficulty: Medium to hard

Why run one marathon in a weekend when you could run two? The Big Sky Marathon is part two of the "Double-Marathon Weekend," but you can sign up for it as an individual race all the same. This course starts up in the Gravelly Range and drops a net 3,600 feet to the Madison Valley floor. Again, there's also a half-marathon distance option. Use code OB2024 for 10% off on registration.

Madison Ultra 50
Race date: July 20
Type: Dirt-road run
Distance: 31 miles
Cost: $75
Difficulty: Hard

Starting atop Monument Ridge in the Gravelly Range, run this natural point-to-point 50k route down to the banks of the Madison River at Varney Bridge. It's entirely on dirt roads, and downhill nearly the whole way. If you've never done an "ultra" before, here's your chance. Sometimes you just gotta say, "WTF?" Use code OB2024 for 10% off on registration.

Tour de Gravelly
Race date: July 21
Type: Gravel bike
Distance: 55 miles
Cost: $75
Difficulty: Hard

Got gravel? The Tour de Gravelly is a gravel-road bike race that goes up and over the Gravelly Range—starting in Ennis and ending at Vigilante Station in the Ruby Valley. You'll gain over 6,000 vertical feet on the climb, and drop nearly 5,000 feet on the descent. There'll be roving aid-stations (read: trucks) to help fuel you along, but expect to find solace and isolation on your valley-to-valley journey. Use code OB2024 for 10% off on registration.

Crazy Mountain 100
Race date: July 26
Type: Trail run
Distance: 100 miles
Cost: $395
Difficulty: Extreme

Montana's only 100-miler, the Crazy Mountain 100 will take you through some of our state's most rugged and remote alpine terrain. It's a point-to-point course with over 25,000 feet of vertical gain, consisting of primarily singletrack with a few segments on Forest Service roads. Some sections have only cairns or vague markings to follow, so you'll want to have decent routefinding skills (in addition to ridiculously strong legs and lungs). If you're not keen to run 100 miles but want to be involved, the race always needs more volunteers. More info on volunteering here. And check out our article on the race's inception.

The Hoot at Crosscut
Race date: July 27
Type: Mountain bike
Distance: 20, 10, or 5 miles
Cost: $30-50
Difficulty: Easy to medium

Hosted on Crosscut Mountain Sports Center's expansive trail network in Bridger Canyon, this mountain-bike race has categories for everyone—including a one-mile kids race. The courses will feature a mix of climbs, descents, flow trails, and technical sections. See what Crosscut is all about, and have a blast doing it.

Jim Bridger Trail Run
Race date: July 27
Type: Run
Distance: 3.1 or 10 miles
Cost: $35-65
Difficulty: Easy to medium

Based at Sypes Canyon, this race takes you through the foothills of the Bridgers. The 10-mile trail run gives you the chance to loop through Middle Cottonwood, utilizing a race day-only cut across private land. Plus, there's a great party afterwards.

August

Sweet Pea Run
Race date: August 3
Type: Dirt-road run
Distance: 3.1 or 6.2 miles
Cost: $15
Difficulty: Easy

Run a 5k or 10k through the south side of town amidst the excitement of the Sweet Pea Festival. It's one of the oldest running races in Bozeman, and proceeds from the race go to Big Sky Wind Drinkers and other local nonprofits. It's generally a casual, family-friendly event—although there will be cash prizes for the top finishers.

Bridger Ridge Run
Registration deadline: May 5 – May 19, 2024
Race date: August 10
Type: Trail run
Distance: 20 miles
Cost: $90
Difficulty: Hard

The coveted Bridger Ridge Run has a registration deadline of May 19. This is perhaps the most iconic race in southwest Montana—its aesthetic route across the Bridger skyline is unmatched in elegance. Due to the confined nature of the ridgeline, the Ridge Run is limited to 250 runners. Runners are selected through a lottery system, but there are opportunities available to tilt the odds in your favor. To learn more, read up on the entry instructions here. Take a trip back in time with a rundown on the Ridge Run from the first-ever issue of Outside Bozeman, and cherish the fact that the race hasn't changed much since then.

Prospector's 50k & 30k
Race date: August 10-11
Type: Dirt-road run
Distance: 31 or 19 miles
Cost: $115-130
Difficulty: Hard

Aptly named for the rugged men who explored this area starting in the 1860s, the Prospector is a newer race you won't want to miss because the views are as good as the gold that those miners were looking for. If you can pull your eyes away from the surrounding mountain views, you’ll run by big and small reminders of the mining activity including homesteads, mine equipment, and endless spur roads.

The Nitty Gritty
Race date: August 17
Type: Trail run
Distance: 4.3, 13.1, or 26.2 miles
Cost: $25-$200
Difficulty: Medium to hard

This casual race at Red Lodge Mountain goes back to the roots of trail running: good company, good terrain, and good beer. Dogs are welcome—so long as they stay away from the snack table. You can run as an individual, or as a team from two to six participants. Kids can run for $25 at any distance. The course is a 4.3-mile lap featuring 1,000 feet of climbing on singletrack, dirt roads, and a little bushwhacking, with a 3x or 6x multiplier for the half- and full-marathon distances, respectively. The course changes up every year, so everyone is in for a new experience.

Big Sky Biggie
Race date: August 17
Type: Mountain bike
Distance: 15, 30, or 50 miles
Cost: $60-$170
Difficulty: Medium to hard

If you're more into treaded tires than trail-runners, check out the Big Sky Biggie. You'll get to sample some of the area's best public and private trails, with distances suitable for cyclists from the casual two-wheeled enthusiast to the diehard singletrack fanatic.

Beartooth La Femme
Race date: August 19
Type: Road bike
Distance: 62 miles
Cost: $150-345
Difficulty: Hard

A women's-only bike tour on Beartooth Pass, this 62-mile out-and-back starts and finishes in Red Lodge. It's not set up as a race, but there will be an award for the first to the top (i.e., the halfway mark). There are no timing chips, but there will be rest stops with snacks and hydration along the way. Dinner the night prior to the ride and breakfast the morning of are included in your race fee. If you're coming from out of town, check out the "Deluxe" registration option, which includes a room at the Pollard Hotel.

Big Sky Gravel
Race date: August 25
Type: Road bike
Distance: 22, 50, or 100 miles
Cost: $60-$90
Difficulty: Medium to hard

Starting and finishing in downtown Red Lodge, choose your distance and ride along the rolling foothills of the Beartooth Mountains.

September

Whistle Pig Adventure Run
Race Date: September 7
Type: Off-trail navigation, biking, and trail running
Distance: Varies; time limit is 8 hours
Cost: $155
Difficulty: Varies

This multisport event combines map-and-compass navigation with biking, trekking, and additional adventure-related challenges. Teams of one to four people attempt to find as many checkpoints as possible within an eight-hour time limit. Routes are not predetermined; participants will use maps provided to navigate from checkpoint to checkpoint. Head down to Red Lodge for this one-of-a-kind race.

Bozeman Half-Marathon & 10k
Race date: September 8
Type: Road run
Distance: 13.1 or 6.2 miles
Cost: $55-107
Difficulty: Medium

The Bozeman Half Marathon & 10K courses are nestled in Gallatin Valley, showcased by panoramic mountain views just as the fall colors are starting to pop. Begin in the southern foothills and finish on Main Street, racing all downhill. The race is run in partnership with Bozeman Distance Project to help send youth runners to competitive meets.

John Colter Run
Race date: September 21
Type: Off-trail run
Distance: 7.5 miles
Cost: $55
Difficulty: Medium

Re-enact John Colter's escape from the Blackfeet on a rugged 7.5-mile route marked by rock cairns, tipis, beer bottles, and bones. The start of the race is signaled by firing a 50-caliber black-powder rifle. You'll cross railroad tracks (trains are stopped for the race), crawl through mud, and ford the waist-deep Gallatin river. What better way to send off summer?

October

Back Roads Half & 10k
Race date: October 6
Type: Dirt-road run
Distance: 6.2 or 13.1 miles
Cost: $20-65
Difficulty: Easy to medium

The main roads may be efficient, but the back roads sure are beautiful. Take in the views of the Beartooths as you cruise on rolling rural roads. All ages and abilities are welcome—this is a race for everyone. Walkers, strollers, and kids welcome in the 10k. The entire course is on gravel or paved roads.

February

Crosscut Classic
Race date: February 15
Race Type: XC Ski
Distance: 19, 9, or 3 miles; 4-mile sit-ski
Cost: $50-80 (free 12 & under kids' race)
Difficulty: Easy to medium

The Crosscut Classic is a premier Nordic ski event hosted by Crosscut Mountain Sports Center on their expansive groomed trail network in beautiful Bridger Canyon. This race is a classic-technique-only event that draws skiers from the Bozeman community and throughout the Rockies. It's a way for Crosscut to share their incredible trail system with other passionate skiers who gather together as a community in the winter season to celebrate a shared love for the sport.

Red Lodge Randonnee Races
Race date: February 22
Type: SkiMo
Distance: 3.5, 4.25, or 6.5 miles
Cost: $35-70
Difficulty: Easy to medium

You asked for it, and now you’re getting it: a SkiMo race at Red Lodge Mountain. Grab your AT gear (alpine touring, tele, or splitboard) and go uphill. There are three course offerings for a wide range of abilities. Whether you're a novice or seasoned SkiMo racer, there's a spot at Red Lodge Randonnee for you.

April

Expedition 12k

Earth Day 5k
Race date: April 20
Type: Road run
Distance: 3.1 miles
Cost: $25
Difficulty: Easy

Celebrate our home planet by getting out for a fun run with Big Sky Wind Drinkers. Proceeds this year will benefit the Gallatin Watershed Council. The course starts and ends at the Fairgrounds, where the Gallatin Valley Earth Day Festival takes place, so you can join in on music, food, exhibits, and presentations after the race.

Expedition 12k
Race date: April 21
Type: Trail run
Distance: 7.5 miles
Cost: $60
Difficulty: Medium

This race kicks off the season with a jaunt through the dry ridges and canyons of Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park. There may be a few patches of snow and ice, but these trails are typically among the soonest to dry out each year.