By David Summerfield
Since I’m not physically present at the race anymore, this is what I’ve gleaned from conversations. I can’t help but see everyone involved in the BRR as people determined to fulfill their inner drive to be heroes of some kind. This may seem an exaggeration, but everyone in some way is always challenged to dig deeply into the inner self, and struggle in some way – and that’s what the hero’s journey is all about.
This year several sweeps could not show up, so alternates had to show up. One was Darryl Baker, who spent all summer coordinating the hauling of 2 1⁄2 gallon jugs onto the ridge. And he helps set-up the finish line, and helps take it all down. One busy individual, as you all know. But on Aug 13th, he found himself following a runner from Oklahoma, who barely made the Sac summit under 75 minutes (the cut-off). Being told the next aid station was a downhill 5 miles, the runner decided to go on to Ross Pass. According to Darryl, this runner fell over a dozen times coming off Sac – yes, the boulder field is tricky, so this Oklahoman had his own “hero’s journey” – making it down alive to Ross Pass!
This is Darryl’s picture taken that day coming off of Sac.
Another hero was Dean Folda, who tirelessly (actually he did get tired out!) cooked all the burgers on Kurt Buchl’s BBQ for the crowd for so many hours. His brother James had been doing this for many years (with his family) and sadly passed away in April. He asked to take his brother’s place to honor him. A true hero doesn’t take any credit for his deeds – he’s always doing it for a higher good. And that sentiment goes for the horde of volunteers who put on this race, like Boz. He’s always the unsung hero every Ridge Run. He accomplishes the feats of a dozen volunteers. He’ll have to be the subject of the next post-BRR article.
I realized something very important was missing the day after the race. There was no article or results in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, interviewing runners at the finish line. That had never happened before. Yes, there was one picture of Kristina Trygstad (who was the 1st woman down, and with just one male runner in front of her!) – but nothing else. So, I got her on the line, and had a great conversation – here is the fruit of our little talk:
Many of you know Kristina Trygstad-Saari as a member of a storied family of Ridge Runners, and more importantly of Norwegian (mom Anne) and Finnish (dad George) descent. Her mom holds the over 60’s and over ‘70’s records. Kristina held the overall women’s record of 3:40:37 (2019). But this year, the stars all lined up just right, and here’s the story.
Kristina coaches cross-country skiers in the winter (officially she’s the US Paralympics Nordic Skiing Coach & Manager), but keeps up her running year round. As soon as the trails get clear of ice and snow, she regularly trains going up and down Baldy. (My last trip up Baldy her mom Anne passed me going down – oh, and you can see their house on Bridger Canyon Road from the summit.) Wanting to be in really good shape for another fast Ridge Run, she took it easy the months leading up to Aug 13th. She only did one longish trail race – a 30km trail race in Ketchum (Idaho) called the Standhope Ultra Challenge, July 23rd. Oh, she won that race, outright (3:22:13)…98 runners, the guy behind her was 5 minutes back, and the woman behind him was 37 minutes behind. Kristina said this was a low-key race which was perfect for being relaxed come August 13th. Not to be misleading, she did pretty heavy distance work on her favorite trails (going up and down Baldy all summer!!).
I pressed her for her nutrition. Remember, her body is not like yours, so her regimen is what works best for her, not yours! She likes food that’s easy on the stomach, that digests well. This means pasta, rice, eggs, fruit – she prefers bland food, and light on the veggies. The night before was pasta, and just a bit more than usual. Having no ride to the start, she drove herself up, and was the 1st runner to arrive (“I wanted to beat the train!”) She relaxed in her car as the sun rose, and then strapped on her waist belt (3 GU’s, and 1 bottle of water). She also carried one handheld water bottle. She had Chris (her boyfriend of many years who is in his last year in nursing) meet her at Bridger. He handed over 2 more GU’s, and exchanged 2 full water bottles. I was struck by her not having any fancy, chemically enhanced powder in the water. “No, water is best for my finicky stomach!” And 5 GU’s total for the run, like 1 every 1⁄2 hour or so. And that’s it. Period. Talk about different bodies….my last Ridge Run I downed over 3 quarts of strong Gatorade, 6 GU’s, 14 ecaps, stopping at each Aid Station downing as many calories as I could get…potato chips, pretzels, pickles, gummy bears). It also took me over 7:30 to finish 🙂 Back to the rather unreal Trygstad-Saari world…
Kristina did go to the “M” parking lot to examine the new finish area the evening before the run. I’d say she was conscious of the possibility of breaking her own record, and knowing it would take an extra minute or 2 to get to the Fish Hatchery. She said that’s when she realized “I’m just going to go for it!” At the start, she was in a pack of 4 guys, some of whom she knew. And soon she was just behind Zach Perrin (who won), knowing that she wouldn’t catch him, but not having anyone behind her to push her. This meant the pressure was off – she just had to run her own race. Weather? Not a factor since it was cooler than usual, and by Baldy, there was the usual blazing sun.
This is her 6th time to race the BRR, and she’s the type who clearly knows the times needed at various checkpoints, so she was totally aware of her pace and possibilities. She glanced at her watch as she passed approximately where the old finish line was, and her watch read 3:37. That’s a CR (Course Record). And she only needed another couple minutes to cross the new finish line in 3:39:25!!
What type of person can be called a hero who has such an easy time pulling off a heroic feat?? The telling of this story does make it sound like Kristina was just doing a “walk in the park”. But it was the result of not racing the Ridge for 3 years, for starters. You could call her a “one point focus” hero. In talking with her I could hear the unsaid
thoughts – like “I know I can go faster”. She’s 37 and in the prime of her running life. I know of no runners who finish such runs without knowing “I know I can do it faster next time!” They also don’t brag about their exploits. They work harder than most of us know how to work. Fear doesn’t exist – caution, yes, but no fear. Just assurance that if you focus all your efforts, you can do whatever you set your mind to.
And I’ll leave it at that, finishing on a preposition as well…I seem to remember Kristina was an English major 🙂
Hello Wind Drinkers! A few updates from the team concerning spring and summer races.
The Baldy Blitz is May 14. We have to cap this race, so please sign up beforehand to ensure you are able to participate. Register here.
The Frank Newman Marathon and Half Marathon is May 28. You can register and pay AT the event, but please download and print the registration form beforehand to bring with you! Form can be found here.
We are in need of volunteers! We need an equipment manager and someone to help with our membership team. For more info on the equipment manager position, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, for more info on the membership position, please contact email@example.com.
Join the Bozeman Running Company for Thursday social runs! We are partnering with BRC for a few fun, summer fun runs every Thursday starting April 28 for 3 and 5 mile options. Learn more here.
It was a hot one this year for the Bridger Ridge Run 2021, but after a quiet last year with canceled races due to the pandemic, runners were eager to return to their favorite, local course. Perspectives are by first-place winner David Ayala and Ridge Run veteran, Darryl Baker.
By David Ayala
The start area is a warm scene, for every sense: smiles and nerves on people of many shapes and sizes. Megan and I chat about dreaming. Shane consolidates our intentions with some well-chosen words and prayer, which I summarize as “May we celebrate our vitality, as individuals and as a people”.
I hadn’t scrutinized the participant list, making it thrilling and unnerving to see the eager faces line up in this final minute before go-time — fist-bumps and nods in mutual camaraderie. I’m invigorated by Tim’s pure enthusiasm.
I turn a sharp corner of the first switchback in that open bowl toward Sac with two others on my heels: Dylan and Jason. My peripheral glance toward the forest reveals no other racers in sight — we’re already several minutes in the lead.
Just before the saddle North of Sac, Dylan blasts past me. By looks, Dylan is a younger fellow. Noting his bouncy stride, I tell myself I’ll pass him again sooner or later, and earnestly try to believe this in effort to remain calm. Oop, now Jason is blasting by in chase of Dylan — he looks strong and ready for this event. The Baldy Blitz with Jason affords me some delicate confidence that I can catch him on descents. But, gosh, Jason is proficient with focus and compartmentalization of will, from years of competitive running and biking. So, while this experience retains its welcome uncertainty, the race clarifies: it will come down to Jason and I descending from Baldy.
Two goats calmly, unblinkingly, watch me jostle from some 3 meters away. I consider telling them to run for their lives and enjoy these closing days of their species, but wonder if they’re hoping to get something out of this event as well. The sunrise from Sac, with the entire route in sight — Ross’ sheen — is superb as always. I will eclipse the horizon drawn closer by smoke, we all will. The scene is so warm, both in the familial sense and in temperature.
On the South ridge of Naya Nuki, I pass Dylan with flailing finality, and give my regards to sweeps Ana and Tommy. I pass Jason shortly after gaining the foothills trail — he graciously steps aside for the exchange. Jason passes me in the climb leading to Ross Pass — I step aside. I’m already feeling an onset of cramps; my `training’ for this BRR has been just lots and lots of time-on-feet, hardly as regulated and explosive as previous seasons. I hope Jason interprets my sluggish ascents as strategic. I figure 5 minutes is the largest margin I could close on Jason in the descent from Baldy, so I commit to keeping him within 4.
I pass Darryl and his perpetual aura of kindness just after Ross Pass.
Tenuously cramping legs tool me uphill for a while.
At Bridger, Nikki says “You know the downhills” in a hushed voice.
I measure I’m 4:20 behind Jason on the ridge North of Saddle.
I commence my usual plan to run everything from that ridge on, and so implement my cramp-avoiding jostle which I’m becoming embarrassingly proficient at.
Peder and Mike cheer me on from Saddle; their faces betray that something’s wrong with me.
Kristina stands brightly on some rocks just North of Baldy. Be it true or not, she reports “Jason looked hot and tired. You’re 4 minutes back. Nobody is behind you.” — an expertly communicated anchor for will, though my insecurities mine concern in her voice.
Sam greets me on Baldy across from a petroleum palm tree. In an outfit of flamboyance, Nick reports “4 minutes back” as he pours water into my handheld. Brenden tries to guilt me into tasting some Bozone brew he and crew painstakingly hauled up in a pony keg. I hear him chasing me “C’mon Dave! Gotta have some!” I’d be embarrassed if he catches me, so I pick up my pace. As expected, I feel a heel blister, the blister grow, the blister pop, heel-juice soak my sock, heel-skin tear off my foot, then heel-skin crumple into its resting place like a bunched up sock in my shoe. I measure I’m 1:10 behind Jason by the base of the scree field South of Baldy.
Now on flatter terrain, my legs cramp: I walk, then stumble, then am forced to lay down locked in cramp. That descent was reckless for my condition. I chew a salt pill, and rise using contortions and maneuvers more familiar in Class 5 terrain, manually bending my legs. As I pass Justin, then Rachel, I rearrange my grimace into a passable smile. Cresting the Knob, I engage a dangerous pace — a dynamic trip, really. Jurro, at Half-Way, reports “3 minutes behind the leader.” Just beyond Yoga Point, I see a flash of Jason; little below the now-burnt TeePee, I catch him. He graciously steps aside; I mutter “nobody behind us”. I elect to hold my excruciating pace: my other heel comes off.
I cross the finish line to interested faces, and collapse with urgency in shade to remove my shoes. Denise arranges an ice bucket for my demolished feet; physical therapist Dan relieves my cramps; Dylan fills my handheld.
Jason is placed on a bed while Anne and other medical folk buzz around him. He demonstrates a limpness that I start to aspire to; I cherish the race-element afforded by Jason’s performance. Eventually, he comes to, and we make some nice conversation about the morning with the accumulating mass of half-familiar people. The after-party hovers in the grass, mowed by Boz earlier in the week, under the shade of those great trees. Emmiliese, in wedding white, and her friends, finish looking remarkably fresh as they celebrate her Bachelorette party. I’m moved by the industrious and supportive human activity around me: the volunteers fulfilling each participant’s personal little journey, the participants each undergoing their own private acute experience, friends and family generating so much spirit and interest, access to this land and the profound consumption of resources, etcetera
By Darryl Baker
After we had a couple of requests this year for early starts for fear of smoke and heat, and being out there all day we decided to open up “The Heat Wave.” One of the requirements was that you had to be in the 7 hour category. We had 14 people sign up and then 2 dropped, including Pat Calis, who is now 83. But he did tell me he’ll be ready for next year. The wave started at 6 am so we missed the crowded start, but cashed in on a fantastic red Sacajawea sunrise and over an hour of cool running.
I more or less ran with Art Sanborg, the oldest in the Ridge Run this year (by a couple of months) to Ross Pass. It was like doing a training run with no one else around till we got to Ross Pass. I managed to come into Ross first and it was really awesome coming across the meadow alone. Like doing a low key training run. That by itself was worth it all, and maybe the best moment in my 16 times of doing this. I had written an Excell Spreadsheet to see when and where David would pass me. You know “One train leaves the station at 6:00 pm going….The other train leaves..” I had it calculated he would pass me at Ross and sure enough he flew by about 100 feet south of the Aid Station.” At that point he was only a few minutes behind the lead runner.
I climbed “The Wall” out of Ross and I have to say I’ve always liked that bad boy. I never saw Art again and I felt great going through Bridger and over Saddle. In fact I got to Bridger in 3 1/2 hours which for me is a pretty good time. Since I can always do the second half faster I thought I would be under 7 hours. But once I got over Saddle the heat set in and I had to slow it down. I had a guy bring up some ice at Bridger for my ice bandanna and that really helped. I had ice on my neck to Baldy, where I got a refill there. We flew a bunch of ice to the private land corner on the ridge just below Baldy and had it packed up. There was ice and ice bandannas for everyone, which really helped when it got hot.
It was a pretty slow go from Baldy down. No dangerous pace for me. In fact I sat down for a minute at the new (the old one burned out) 1/2 Way Baldy station where another guy was laying down and really out. But we have a doctor there and she was working on him. They had packed Otter Pops up and Don Rodgers slipped me a couple extra as I was leaving. Those things are amazing. I finished just over 7 hours, second in my age group, soaked my feet in the cold trough and then really didn’t feel too bad. But then I had to pick up the finish line, so by the time I was done with that I was beat. Glad to see what David wrote and now I have even more respect for him because he helped pick up the finish as well. And he didn’t even have feet.
(July 22nd, 2020) With continued increased cases of coronavirus infections in Montana and Gallatin County, the John Colter race committee has decided that the race will need to be cancelled for this year.
(July 9th, 2020) With recent sharp rises in coronavirus infections in Montana and Gallatin County, the BRR race committee has decided that the race will need to be cancelled for this year.
The Wind Drinkers are cautiously proceeding with the Ed Anacker Bridger Ridge Run, with the opening of the selection lottery beginning on June 28th. Sign-ups for the lottery will run through July 5th. Selections will occur the following week. Those selected for entry will be able to register for the actual race beginning July 12th. Details on how we plan to conduct the Ridge Run this year are on our BRR Entry Instructions page.
Given the current health situation, the Sweet Pea race committee has opted to conduct the Sweet Pea 5K and 10K runs as virtual races in 2020. Details on how this will work, and links to registration, can be found on our Virtual Sweet Pea Race page!
The Headwaters Bank Run, scheduled for July 25th, 2020, in Three Forks, has been cancelled for 2020. The race will be held again in July 2021.
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