A Fast Day On The Ridge
Mike Wolfe and Daniel Kraft both break the course record at Montana’s Bridger Ridge Run; two veterans go down to the wire in the women’s race
Photo by John Morris
Although Mike Wolfe (pictured above) had doubts about his racing form going into the Bridger Ridge Run Saturday, he certainly didn’t show it.
“Since Western, I've felt flat, like my recovery has taken longer than normal,” says Wolfe. “Maybe I did too much too soon right after Western.”
Feeling “flat,” in his case, translated to winning the rugged 20-mile race outside Bozeman, Montana, in 3:00:24—over six minutes under Scott Creel’s 2007 course record of 3:06:30. Daniel Kraft of Grand Junction, Colorado, also finished under Creel’s record, crossing the line in 3:05:27. Missoula, Montana’s Mike Foote finished third in 3:22:28.
Wolfe, who also lives in Missoula, says he cut his training volume significantly in the three weeks leading up to Bridger, and that he knew his fitness was much improved compared to the last time he ran the race six years ago. So, he went into race day with the goal of not only breaking Creel’s course record but breaking the three-hour mark, too. “In my mind, I’ve had a disappointing race season this year,” he says. “I was keen to have a good race last weekend.”
Though the women’s field was missing the top-end talent it usually draws—Bozeman’s own perennial favorite and course record-holder, Nikki Kimball (she ran a 3:43:49 in 2009), was not competing, and Boulder, Colorado’s Krissy Moehl pulled out just before the race with an injury—it was still a dramatic and close-fought affair. Bozeman’s Minde Erickson finished barely two minutes ahead of Jackson, Wyoming’s Alyssa Larsen, and the two Bridger Ridge veterans were never more than a few minutes apart throughout the race. Erickson took a wrong turn partway through the race, allowing Larsen to lead, but with less than a mile remaining, Larsen chose a difficult route down a steep descent. Erickson took an easier route and pulled ahead, holding the lead to the finish in 4:13:17. Larsen crossed the line in 4:15:22.
Race Director David Summerfield noted that the course was in good condition thanks to last-minute luck. “After a whole summer of no rain, the conditions up in the Bridger Range were bleak. The dirt had turned to dust and the steep portions were covered in loose pebbles,” he says. “I requested rain, and it came in a torrent Friday night. … The trail conditions could not have been better.”
Not that the course was particularly easy.