Running 20 hard miles with a tough old man makes the author think hard about family ties
A friend, a native Montanan, likes to remind me that my favorite state has snowfall every month ...
Photo by Kelly Gorham
A friend, a native Montanan, likes to remind me that my favorite state has had snowfall every month of the year. There are many things I love about Montana; the weather is not always one of them.
When I agreed to run on the sweep crew at the Bridger Ridge Run in the mountains above Bozeman, it sounded like fun. Then I started getting the emails. The first was from Tom Hayes, in charge of sweeping, who explained that there would be two teams of three to four experienced runners who would need to carry "lots of warm clothes." Sweep members became hypothermic in 2005 and 2006, he warned. "We are there to save lives if necessary."
It was mid-August. Come on, I thought. And then I got the message with the weather report for race day: at 5000 feet it would be around 50 degrees. However, above 8000 feet, the temperature could be in the low 30s with a possibility of snow. Most of the race is above 8500 feet. The Bridger Ridge Run is a 20-miler where the winning times are far slower than most marathons.
When we gathered the night before the race, Tom gave us sweeps some supplies—a few Band-Aids, a jar of Vaseline and important phone numbers—and quick instructions about what to do in case of emergency. Then he took me aside and confided, "Dad only thinks he's sweeping." What, I wanted to know, did that mean? "Well," Tom said, "I got him a number. He's registered."