The Mature Runner: A Tale of Heroes at the 2022 BRR
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 🙂