Hurtin’ in Helena

from The Journey of a Thousand Miles


Race Start.Photo Credit: Gary Marshall
Photos, Blackfoot Media Group

I’m lying on my La Quinta bed the morning after Don’t Fence Me In and I can’t move. My calves are sore. My hips are sore. My butt is sore. The beautiful trails of Helena put the hurt on me. This year was the Prickly Pear Land Trust’s 15th running of the race and the 5th race in this year’s La Sportiva Mountain Cup. After the positive experience we had last year, we were excited to return.


Race preview by Jimmy Grant, Montana Trail Crew:

Weaving through the switchbacks.

I’m in better shape this year so I was hoping to take 3 minutes off of my time from last year. I started out pretty aggressive from the gun and around the 5 mile mark I was 1:20 under last year’s time. There was a course change that eliminated a one mile stretch of road and replaced it with an undulating single track that added some distance. Still, at 11 miles I was 2 minutes under my time. I started to feel the pace at the bottom of the climb up to Helena Ridge Trail, about 12.5 miles. I started to trip over rocks and swerve off the trail. I squeezed my GU too hard and it drooped all over my gloves and got all over my shorts when I went hands to knees to climb up the mountain. At 16.5 miles I was less than a minute under my time, but I was catching and passing many of the men. I didn’t realize I was settling in and not pushing as much as before.

My feet are burning!!

The last climb up to the top of Mount Helena was hard. There was a lady walking up the trail who had started the race an hour earlier. She pulled over to the side to let me pass and said some words of encouragement. Then she pulled out her phone and started taking pictures of me so I really had to get moving! At this point I started to lose it. Close to the peak, a man’s voice yelled down that I was almost there. When I reached him he said to go down this trail and then go to your left. Once I figured out which was my left, I started a mantra that was “go to your left, go to your left.” Now was not the time to go off course; I just wanted to be done. The last mile is so steep and rocky, my feet were burning inside my Helios.


I ended up running 6 seconds slower than last year, but there is no question that I ran harder. It’s difficult to tell how much the new course change affected splits, but given the way I feel today, I know I ran a strong race and how aggressively I can run without blowing up completely.

Full results here.


Thank you to my sponsors La Sportiva, Terrain Gym, Align Chiropractic, Prime Massage & Trail Butter. Thanks to Kelli and Martin and all the folks at Prickly Pair Land Trust. Thank you Tad, BDP and all my friends and family from Washington to West Virginia.

Thoughtful note on my race packet bag.
Join The Conversation

You Might Also Like


  1. 2

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>