The inaugural Bighorn Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run was held in 2002 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the annual Bighorn Mountain Wild and Scenic Trail 50M, 50K, 30K (started in 1993). These runs were initially started by local trail runners interested in preserving and protecting the Dry Fork and Little Bighorn River Canyons from a planned pump storage hydroelectric project and other development. We desired to increase public awareness of the natural beauty, rugged terrain, and unique geology of the Bighorn Mountains and Dry Fork and Little Bighorn River drainage in particular so that informed decisions could be made regarding management of these resources. Through extensive public input, the planned pump storage hydroelectric project has been placed on hold and probably is dead; but the area remains potentially threatened in the future by other possible development.
The runs largely continue at this time as a public service by trail running enthusiasts and volunteers in the Sheridan community to promote recreation and tourism in Sheridan County. The course is designed to maximize the exposure of the participants, their families, and race volunteers to an extremely scenic, wild, and primitive area of our geologically unique Bighorn Mountains. The course allows maximum flexibility to accommodate a variety of unpredictable weather conditions or adverse course contingency courses (hopefully would never have to be used) that would be aesthetically acceptable to the trail runner; while allowing race management to maximize their volunteer support in conducting these events.
SNOW CONDITIONS FORCE BIGHORN COURSE CHANGES
The 16th annual Bighorn Mountain Wild and Scenic Trail Run (52M and 32 M) and 7th annual Bighorn Trail 100 was one week away and there was 4 to 5 feet of snow at Porcupine Ranger Station with it still snowing every day despite it being mid June. The absolute drop dead deadline for a decision by race management was here. Do we run the traditional courses on the snow without adequate aid station and communication support in the upper reaches of the Little Horn Canyon or do we opt for a contingency course scenario to ensure volunteer and runner safety? For race management, it was an obvious choice to opt for the contingency course scenario because of race support and safety concerns. Once the decision was made to bite the bullet and go with a contingency course for the 52 mile and 100 mile events, everything proceeded without a hitch.
Designing a contingency course for the 52 mile and 100 mile events similar in difficulty and scenery to our original courses was relatively easy to do as we have thought about such matters for over 20 years. The real work comes in reallocating, reassigning, and repositioning the volunteer and communication assets in less than a week, communicating the changes to the volunteers, participants and crews, and having the event come off without a glitch. Our race directors Karen Powers, Michelle Maneval, and Cheryl Sinclair made it happen in a totally seamless fashion. The race directors, volunteers, runners, and crews were flexible and adaptable and all performed in an outstanding fashion!
Karl Meltzer's run-in with an angry moose!
"Ever had a run-in with a moose? I can now say I have. It was funny the day before at the packet pick-up as I heard some other folks talking about how the leaders get to see all the wildlife. This race I was the leader. I saw all the wildlife, from big bucks, to big moose, even a skunk to perhaps throw some stink into my finish (that didn’t happen), but was close.
I was about a half mile from the turnaround point at the Porcupine Aid Station where I came upon old mama Bullwinkle. I stopped, she stopped. We both proceeded forward, when Bullwinkle started walking away from me towards the aid station, I also proceeded forward. She then started to run away from me.
All I could think was “great”, she’s out of here. When I started moving again, she spun a 180, snorted and started charging at me from about 40 meters. I moved left behind a large tree, baiting her to pass me on the right. She was about 5 feet…yah 5 feet from me, I darted left behind the tree to protect myself. She turned around, charged at me again only to find that big tree in her way and a little 142 pound runner hiding behind. She was only 5 feet from me staring me in the face. We played cat and mouse 5 more time before she decided to head back up and away from me.
I felt better now, hoping she was out of there. At this area on the jeep road there was about 75 meters to the next big tree where I could protect myself, in the direction of the aid station. It seemed she was gone as I could no longer see her in the woods about 50 meters away. I started running quite fast towards the aid station, she then came barreling out of the woods and started chasing me! As I was sprinting faster than Carl Lewis ever has, I turned around to see her snout only 5 feet from me and ready to pounce on top of me and possibly kill me. I dove like superman behind that first big tree. She kicked my right shin as well as my left hand. When I hit the ground, I bounced up quickly to hide behind the tree again, only to play cat and mouse 5-6 more times.
Standing in front of a moose 7 feet tall is pretty scary from a distance of only 4-5 feet. I don’t recommend it! After a minute or two or her standing there debating whether I was worth more effort, she moved up and away into the woods again. This time I waited out of her sight a little longer than the first time. I finally went and she was never seen again. I was shaking at the aid station knowing I had to head back that way. Two younger guys went ahead to spook her, they did just that. For the next 20 miles I was shaking while running as I kept turning around thinking something was coming after me. Finally it was over. I survived a moose attack, won the race in record time, and now it’s a no-brainer when someone asks me a “wildlife story” when running in the wilderness. Lesson to be learned……nah, it was about time this happened, I’ve been running in the woods for 25 years!"