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“Hilly as hell,” or “absolutely lovely”?

Take your pick.

So go the comments about the seven-kilometer course at Saturday’s Montana Cup Team Cross Country Championship.

One-hundred fifty runners representing clubs from Butte, Bozeman, Billings, Kalispell and Helena gathered on a beautiful fall day under the steady gaze of Spire Rock east of Butte.

The scenic course wound its way along wide trails and through a fir and juniper forest in the desert-like terrain near Pipestone.

World-class runner, Nicole Hunt, ran for the Butte club and outpaced her competition easily. Hunt placed first overall in the women’s competition while frying the course in 31 minutes and eight seconds. Her nearest competition came from Danielle Salois-Shahan (2004 women’s runner-up) from Bozeman who was a full 2½ minutes behind.

See RUNNING, Page B6 Hunt labeled the course as “lovely,” but she may have been a bit prejudiced; it was her husband Ray Hunt who laid it out and took a full week off work to groom the course and arrange for the many volunteers who helped supervise and score the race.

“It was an absolute lovely course,” smiled Hunt. “I ran very cautious on the downhill, but used my strength on the uphills.” The start of the race used the convergent method where runners are lined up like spokes on a wheel. At the gun, they converge to the center and then fly downhill for the first 1.5 miles.

Hunt floated on the first downhill and was closely challenged by Salois-Shahan. The course turned more rolling at about the three-kilometer mark. Here the conditions were almost uncomfortable for some runners. Randy Farrow, a master’s runner from Butte, commented that without any wind this section of the race was downright hot.

The course took a hard left and then climbed Monster Hill. It was here that Hunt separated from the her closest challenger and used her remarkable endurance to pull away.

Hunt is currently a member of the four-member United States’ Mountain Racing team. From her home in Deer Lodge, Hunt is now training for the World’s Richest Mountain Race to be held in Nigeria in four weeks.

Salois-Shahan placed second while Marta Fisher finished third in 33 minutes and 50 seconds.

Susan Kaluza from Butte placed first in the women’s master’s division.

“I’m more of a road racer,” said Kaluza who struggled up the final half mile with a cramp in the her right calf. Kaluza finished 1½ minutes ahead of the next master’s runner, Debbie Gibson.

The hills were the hallmarks of this course - just ask men’s champion, Scott McGowan who ran for the Missoula club and is truly a Montana-track success story.

The demonstrative McGowan who ran for the University of Montana from 1999 through 2004 said the course was “hilly as hell” and “the downhill was horrible.” McGowan, a Montana native from Poplar, was 12th in the 2004 Olympic Trials in the 1500 meters (3:49). However, McGowan’s most notable achievement on the track circuit was his first-place finish at the 2005 U.S.A. Indoor Track Championships where he placed first in the 1500 meters (3:44) over past champions Rob Myers and Charlie Gruber.

“I made some time going uphill,” added McGowan about Saturday’s race.

McGowan also commented on the humorous objects that race directors had strategically placed at points for the encouragement of runners on the course. Runners were greeted along the course by dead animal skulls and pumpkin-headed scarecrows.

“I liked the dead animal skulls. They were great,” quipped McGowan who is also credited with two sub-4 minute miles in 2005.

McGowan finished the course in 26 minutes and 55 seconds while averaging a little over five minutes per mile. Casey Jermym, two-time Montana Cup champion, placed second in 27 minutes and 21 seconds.

Ray Hunt, the 2006 Montana Cup head race director, finished a surprising fourth overall and first in the master’s division.

“I was totally shocked and happy,” said Hunt of his finish.

Hunt also ran track and field for the University of Montana. While running for the Grizzlies in 1985 and 1986, Hunt placed in the 10,000 meters in the Big Sky Conference. At 41 years old Hunt was only 1½ minutes behind the 25 year-old McGowan.

Keith Kimmons, who ran for Bozeman, finished third in 27 minutes and 46 seconds while Dewey Peacock of Bozeman finished in the fifth spot with a clocking of 29 minutes and 4 seconds.

FYI Nicole Hunt will run in the World’s Richest Mountain Race on Saturday, November 25, 2006.

Location — Obudu Ranch in Cross River State, Nigeria (Africa).

Course — 7 miles.

Elevation — at start 2500 feet; at finish 5100 feet.

Prizes — $50,000 (first place), $20,000 (second), $9,000 (third), $8,000 (fourth).

Last year’s winners — Ben Du Bois, Austrailia 48:44 (men); Anna Pichrtova, Czech Republic 55:46 (women).

Race website — Montana Cup and Masters Cup 15th Annual Team Cross Country Championship Saturday, October 28 Men Overall team results — Missoula 50, Kalispell 69, Bozeman 86, Billings 86, Helena 93, Butte 95.

Master’s team results — Butte 29, Bozeman 45, Helena 54.

Top 30 individuals — 1, Scott McGowan MSLA 26:55; 2, Casey Jermyn MSLA 27:21; 3, Keith Kimmons BZ 27:46; 4, Ray Hunt BUTTE 28:38; 5, Dewey Peacock BZ 29:04; 6, Jake Roske MSLA 29:25; 7, Alan King BLGS 29:32; 8, Sam Hartpence BLGS 29:37; 9, Andrew Graham KSPL 29:43; 10, Kelly Fulton BLGS 29:51; 11, Matt Seeley KSPL 29:55; 12, Logan Torgison KSPL 30:11; 13, Marvin Speece BUTTE 30:18; 14, Shane Donaldson KSPL 30:22; Brian Wieck HEL 30:24; 16, Thomas Jodoin MSLA 30:29; 17, Jeff Thomas HEL 30:31; 18, Greg Wirth HEL 30:39; 19, Peter Dan Sullivan HEL 30:52; 20, Ray Matteson BUTTE 31:03; 21, Dan Guggenheim BZ 31:21; 22, Tony Banovich BLGS 31:25; 23, Jacob Naegeli KSPL 31:37; 24, Patrick Judge HEL 31:56; 25, Anders Brooker MSLA 32:04; 26, Dylan Zitzer BUTTE 32:05; 27, Ted Burnham KSPL 32:11; 28, David Gardner BZ 32:14; 29, Mark Slater BZ 32:17; 30, Shaun Marshall-Pryde BZ 32:23.

Top 10 master’s individuals — 1, Ray Hunt BUTTE 28:38; 2, Marvin Speece BUTTE 30:18; 3, Jeff Thomas HEL 30:31; 4, Peter Dan Sulllivan HEL 30:52; 5, Ray Matteson BUTTE 31:03; 6, Mark Slater BZ 32:17; 7, Shaun Marshall-Pryde BZ 32:23; 8, John Zombro BZ 32:26; 9, Craig Kenworthy BZ 32:34; 10, Don Sundberg BUTTE 32:43.

Women Overall team results — Butte 31, Helena 50, Bozeman 74, Billings 92, Kalispell 123.

Master’s team results — Helena 25, Butte 32.

Top 30 individuals — 1, Nicole Hunt BUTTE 31:08; 2, Danielle Salois-Shahan BZ 33:37; 3, Marta Fisher HEL 33:50; 4, Michele Bazzanella HEL 34:05; 5, Megan Lerch MSLA 34:13; 6, Sarah Graves BLGS 34:17; 7, Keli Dennehy BUTTE 34:50; 8, Vaia Errett BUTTE 35:10; 9, Kala Jauquet BUTTE 35:45; 10, Kathy Peterson BUTTE 35:47; 11, Jenny Newton MSLA 36:12; 12, Jenna Grimm BZ 36:36; 13, Jennifer Thomas HEL 36:38; 14, Rebekah Kirtley BUTTE 37:26; 15, Claire Vaughan-Anderson KSPL 37:36; 16, Brianne DeWitt HEL 37:54; 17, Mara Veale MSLA 38:07; 18, Susan Kaluza BUTTE 38:09; 19, Kathie Perrins BLGS 38:21; 20, Elizabeth White BZ 38:27; 21, Stephanie Younkin HEL 38:55; 22, Nikki Marancik BLGS 39:25; 23, Laura Morin HEL 39:34; 24, Melissa Dock BZ 39:36; 25, Debbie Gibson HEL 39:41; 26, Jacquie Maillet GF 40:06; 27, Demaris Taylor HEL 40:15; 28, Liza Dennehy BUTTE 40:18; 29, Debbie Magilke BLGS 40:46; 30, Aimee Kendrick MSLA 40:55.

Top 10 master’s individuals — 1, Susan Kaluza BUTTE 38:09; 2, Debbie Gibson HEL 39:41; 3, Demaris Taylor HEL 40:15; 4, Liza Dennehy BUTTE 40:18; 5, Janet Robinson HEL 41:12; 6, Mary Dean BUTTE 41:58; 7, Ann Seifert HEL 42:09; 8, Toni Broadbent HEL 44:40; 9, Eddi Walker BUTTE 45:06; 10, Barb Furlong HEL 46:28.

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