Who started this group? What’s with the name? Why is a horse the logo? Where did the motto come from?
The Big Sky Wind Drinkers is a running club steeped in history. During the 1970s, running was becoming more and more popular in the mainstream population as a way to stay fit, get outdoors, and spend time with like-minded people. However, Bozeman and the state of Montana had very few organized runs and no structured running clubs.
Enter Frank Newman and Andy Blank, both runners and both participants in the 1973 Annual Beartooth Run. The evening before the run, the men drew up a charter for a running club in Bozeman. Signed by both men and with their waitress, Shelley Hoyt, as witness, the club was founded with these words:
Be it known that on 30 June 1973, Frank Newman and Andy Blank in Red Lodge, Montana organized the, yet to be named, club in the interest of promoting physical fitness through running/jogging and competition. Although physical fitness is the aim, it is recognized that individuals will differ in their prowess and adroitness as runners.Therefore, it is not important how fast one runs but that one runs.
What’s a club without a name? During July and August of 1973, Andy and Frank mulled over the issue of what to call this new club.
The name Big Sky Wind Drinkers was inspired by the wild horses that once roamed the vast Montana plains as well as by Arabian horses, which are known for their endurance.
More specifically, the name possibly came from the 1930s novel “Drinkers of the Wind” by Carl R. Raswan. The name was first used in September of 1973.
From 1973 – 1975, progress toward an official club was slow but enthusiastic.
The club’s inaugural run was the Super Relay, a 24 hour uninterrupted run. Several subsequent runs were held in affiliation with the club, including the One-Hour Indoor Run, the Bridger Bowl run, and the Turkey Trot.
The Wind Drinkers even hosted the first Governor’s Cup Marathon in May of 1974.
The charter meeting of the Big Sky Wind Drinkers was held on July 8, 1975. The meeting was attended by Jim Banks, Doug Bishop, Andy Blank, Marshall Cook, Carrie Ireland, Helene Knowlton, Gordon McFeters, Cliff Montagne, and Frank Newman.
A president (Frank Newman), vice president (Andy Blank), and secretary/treasurer (Doug Bishop) were elected. The club decided that any person or family joining by the end of the calendar year would be considered a founding member. By December 31, the Big Sky Wind Drinkers counted 68 members.
The Big Sky Wind Drinkers have built a strong tradition of runs each year. The original line-up of yearly runs continues today (although some names have changed).