Kirtley, Murray defend titles at Veterans Day Race

Kirtley, Murray defend titles at Veterans Day Race

Carlie Kearney, William McAnulty win 2.5-mile event

A fresh coat of snow on the course did not slow down Veterans Day Race champions John Kirtley and Nichole Murray.

Actually, the runners posted faster times than last year Thursday as they defended their titles in the 84th running of the race in Butte. (Overall results; Age group results)

Murray, 51, of Whitehall, won the 5-mile women’s race for the fifth straight year — and 15th time overall — with a time of 34 minutes, 17 seconds. She finished 26 seconds faster than last year’s race, which was also run in the snow.

Butte’s Michele Bazzanella, 48, took second in 40:08, and Butte’s Amanda Badovinac. 43, finished third in 50:08.

Kurtley, 35, of Butte, topped the men’s field in the 5-mile race with a time of 31:20, beating his time from last year time by 2 minutes, 1 second.

Ryan Tomich, 16, a junior at Butte High school, placed second in 33:27. Bozeman’s Pat O’Connor, 26, placed third in 37:44.

Race favorite Carlie Kearney of Stevensville returned to the event with deep family ties to win the 2.5-mile female race. The 10-year-old runner finished with a time of 22:10.

In 2016, Kearney, then 5, stole the show as the Kearney family reached its fourth generation to run Montana’s oldest road race.

(Story continues below photo gallery)

Karen Byrnes of Butte took second in 23:29, and Monique Link of Golden, British Columbia, finished third in 28:51. Mollie Kearney, 8, of Stevensville, placed fourth in 45:17.

William McAnulty, a freshman at Butte Central, won the male 2.5-mile race. He finished in 19:37.

Steve Babcock of Butte took second in 19:59. He was followed by Butte’s Miklos Grazer at 22:10. Stevensville’s John Kearney, 6, placed fourth in 28:09.

This year’s race marked the fourth year on the new course, which starts and finishes at the new American Legion Hall on the corner of Wynne and McKinley avenues.

Butte’s Veterans Day Race was created in 1934 by two World War I veterans, C. Owen Smithers and Charlie McAuliffe. Since then, the race has been held every Veterans Day except during the World War II years between 1942-45. The event is one of the oldest races held annually in the west.

For many years the event was started and finished in the uptown business district.

The race was primarily between athletes from the three high schools in the area, the two Butte schools and Anaconda. The start/finish line venue was changed to Naranche Stadium in 1967. It remained at this location until 1975.

The next year, in 1976, the race was opened to all runners and moved to the Flats.

The race started at Stodden Park and ended at the American Legion Hall near the Copper King Inn from 1985 through 2017.

This year’s race was noticeably missing runners from Butte High, who are headed to Boise for a big race this weekend.

In all, 34 runners braved the conditions to finish the 2021 race.

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