June weather in the northern Rockies is always a dicey affair, and the Glacier Half Marathon held last Saturday on Looking Glass Road proved to be no exception. Cool and rainy weather predominated all day Friday as more than 1,800 runners and their friends and traveling companions arrived to register and set themselves up on the front lawn of the East Glacier Lodge. As has been true of the two previous races held here, the Vacation Races folks had everything all ready to go for the new arrivals as they found lodging and got ready for the 4 a.m. shuttles to take them to the starting line just a few miles south of Kiowa.
The Glacier Half Expo was again held at Red Eagle Campground. Blackfeet vendors set up for free on Friday and on Saturday, and events on Friday included an introduction to the Blackfeet Tribe, a Native Speaks presentation and a Fun Run.
The next morning found the first flight of runners at a muddy starting line on Looking Glass Road where the Iron Creek Singers – Arlen Edwards and Everett Armstrong – performed for the athletes, wishing them well on their journey.
Some runners reported running the entire course in the rain, but also said they found the experience “cleansing” and a complete break from their everyday lives. Looking Glass affords glorious views of the Eastern Front, made even more spectacular by the shifting mists and shafts of light that penetrated the cloud cover as the rains began to lift. Rain engulfed the first runners on the course, and space blankets and warm food awaited them at the finish line, but later runners were greeted by swaths of sunshine that broke through the clouds and warmed the hundreds of folks gathered on the front lawn of the East Glacier Lodge.
Many local athletes participated in the Half Marathon, hailing from Browning, Cut Bank, East Glacier Park and Heart Butte. Among those, the top finisher was Brian Suttle of Cut Bank who placed fourth overall, fourth in his gender and fourth in his division with a time of 1:24:06. Many others claimed first place in their divisions, and several made their mark simply by taking part in the run.
With a third Half Marathon in the books, Blackfeet Country is becoming well known as the place where traditional culture meets the mountains, and runners are welcome to explore and enjoy all this country has to offer.