The Inaugural Glacier Half Marathon
[Kiowa, MT / East Glacier Park Village, MT / Whitefish, MT]
Every time we have to get up super early in the cold to do a race, we ask ourselves, “Why do we keep doing this?” The answer we always arrive at is that we must be, in fact, crazy. 🙂
Today’s race started at 6 am in upper 30s/low 40s temperatures (that’s just a few degrees above freezing). Because there was no parking at the start line, we had to get up extra early to park in the town of Browning, then get shuttled to the start line in Kiowa, about 20 minutes away. Luckily, we were staying just 2 miles from where we needed to park, but seeing that the last shuttle was at 5 am and we didn’t wan’t to rush, we got up at 3 am and left the house at 4 am. Boy, was it cold. 🙂 We were bundled up at the start line, and right before 6 am everybody stripped any extra layers of clothing and left them at gear check.
The first five miles of the race were straight up hill, starting at about 5000 ft elevation (1524 m) and topping out at 5900 ft (1800 m). Luckily, there were gorgeous views to distract. At one point, around mile 3, I even saw a group of people clustering to see some wildlife.
From mile 5 to mile 11, we went downhill. We passed Two Medicine lake, and marveled at the reflection of the giant rocks in it.
When I finally reached East Glacier Park Village, I knew I was close to the end. We turned off the highway into a trail for the last mile.
The course was hard but definitely the most scenic one I’ve ever done! Some of my friends had already finished, and my friend May took photos of me coming in. This was my second slowest half-marathon, at 2:48, but I was happy I was done!
The medal was pretty, and we finished right in front of Glacier Park Lodge, which was built in 1913 by the Great Northern Railway company. It was the first of a series of hotels in and around Glacier built by the company to house visitors the railroad brought to the park. The grounds were beautiful and the weather was sunny and warm. We wished for a second we were staying here and not at our tipis.
Afterwards, we drove about an hour-and-a half to the town of Whitefish, on the other side of Glacier (the west side). Browning, where we are staying and where our car was parked, is really small – about 1000 people. We thought we’d rather go somewhere else rather than compete with a field of runners twice the size of this town (the half-marathon was 2200) for space at one of the few restaurants. The town of Whitefish is really cute. The downtown area is full of shops and cafes, and we had great food at the Great Northern Brewery, which Olivia and I had visited when we were here in 2015.
After walking around the town a little bit, we drove back to Browning. On the way, we stopped at the Continental Divide crossing at Marias pass. I took a second jumping photo here to match my 2015 one. 🙂
Just a little further down the road, we had a pair of extreme experiences. A big truck going to opposite way flung a rock that made a giant crack in our rental car windshield. We took a silver sharpie and circled the crack, just to watch it spread more in just a few minutes! Hertz told us it will be fine to drive, as long as the crack doesn’t impact the driver’s vision.
Just a few minutes later, we saw a rainbow!
We spent the evening drinking wine and eating pizza we brought over from Whitefish then sat around the camp fire making smores. It was the perfect ending to a long but amazing day.