This gnarly mountain race has grown in the number of runners over the past years as we see more and more trail runners in our area, and as Bozeman becomes better known for beautiful but challenging mountain runs. The Blitz kicks off the summer trail running series followed by the The Jim Bridger 10 mile Trail run, then the toughest 50K in the country The Old Gabe 50K, then the unparalleled, unmarked, unsupported Devil’s Backbone 50 Miler and the infamous Bridger Ridge Run and finishing the season with the most eclectic and diverse trail run of the series, The John Colter run.
The race was founded by Aaron Hjelt and Tom Kalakay in 2001. Aaron back then was a sophomore at MSU and president of the Climbing Club there (now known as Vert-I-Go Mountaineering Club). He was training for a mountaineering trip to Alaska and Baldy was just the perfect fit; steep, long, challenging, and close to town.
Tom joined Aaron at his training runs from time to time. Together they schemed the idea of holding an early season trail run to the top of the Bridgers… a scramble, of sorts. The first 3 years, the race ended on top. This was the original intention. The name came from the song Ballroom Blitz.
Originally, it was a fundraiser for the Climbing Club. The first year, we held it on a beautiful Saturday at the end of April 2001. Scott Creel beat the support crew (me and a friend) to the top. We were on the last stage up the peak as he was coming down. I made medals for everyone who finished from rocks glued to ribbons.
Then Tom Hayes and Big Sky Wind Drinkers became more involved as the race began to grow and become more formal requiring Forest Service plans, permits and running insurance, which looking at the trail and conditions is actually a pretty darn good idea! The focus of the Blitz is to keep it as pure and simple as possible focusing on the run itself. Therefore, there are no trail markings, no course aid, and no race sweeps – just pure trail enjoyment.
Baldy Blitz is “I don’t think the average runner can do this” tough as nails, memory creating trail run as both a fundraiser and awareness run – this year supporting the Friends of Hyalite.