Nicole Murray, Bob Whelan win 81st Veterans Day Race

Nicole Murray, Bob Whelan win 81st Veterans Day Race
Runners begin the 81st Veterans Day Race on a new course beginning and ending at the new American Legion Hall on Wynne Avenue. (Bill Foley photos)

By Bruce Sayler

A new facility and course, and brisk, but not miserable conditions greeted the hardy runners Sunday for the 81st Butte Veterans Day Race.

A tasty chili and hotdog lunch bade them farewell as most clutched shiny trophies while heading out the door.

The big ones went to Butte runners Nicole Murray and Bob Whelan as the race commemorated, this year, the end of World War I 100 years ago. Murray, a former Olympic prospect, has won many races through her successful career, including the Butte Veterans Day Race 5-miler.

This year’s was a little different. Murray said she thought she has won the women’s 5-mile race 12 times in the Butte event, but it might be “11 or 13.” Still, the 2018 running marked her first as the overall champion.

(Story continues below photos)

Not another runner, male or female, was in sight when Murray sped the last couple of blocks to win in 36 minutes, 11 seconds.

“There’s one time I ran it and didn’t win it” she said. “But, I was close to winning. The first time to win it outright, though, is a great feeling. Being the first overall finish makes this one special.”

Murray found the course favorable.

“I liked it,” she said about the new course that began and ended at the new American Legion Hall, which recently opened on the Wynn Avenue site, across the street from the Longfellow ball fields. “It’s a loop course with a nice slight downhill to the finish. It’s real nice.”

Whelan has had a good week. A member of the one of the most supporting families of the Veterans Day Race, Whelan timed 43:19 for his men’s division victory five days after winning election to a Butte district court judgeship. It’s a post his father, Jack, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and longtime presider over the Veterans Day Race, once held before retiring.

Bob Whelan said he, too, found the new course to his liking.

“Starting and finishing at the same spot — I really like that,” he said. “It’s a nice course, good and flat.”

The run drew 30 finishers, including Jeff Owens, who hoisted an American flag the entire way running the 5-mile route, and octogenarian Tom McGure of Philipsburg, who also waved the Stars and Stripes while taking part.

Murray received the trophy named for Mary (Whelan) Crowe as the women’s winner of the 5-mile race and Bob Whelan took the one named for C. Owen Smithers as the men’s division champion. Smithers and Charlie McAuliffe launched the Butte Veterans Day Race in 1934 and it has been held annually, except for World War II years, making it Montana’s oldest road race, organizers said.

Brian McGeehan won the boys’ 2 1/2-mile race in 15:51 for the trophy named for the late Marty and Pat Kearney, father and son and who were past winners of the Veterans Day Race.  No girls entered the 2 ½-mile run, so the trophy named for Liza (Merrifield) Dennehy went unclaimed. Sheila Franey was first across in a category marked 2 1/2-plus. Her time was 41:04. The John “Scotty” Wulf Trophy, for service to the Veterans Day Race, was presented to Mike Kearney, brother of the late Pat Kearney and of regular participant Bill Kearney. Marine Corps veteran Chuck Richards was the starter for the race and emceed the awards presentations.

Temperatures were in the high teens at race time, but it being a windless morning kept the conditions favorable.

Murray mentioned the Veterans Day Race as being notable on her running schedule.

“I am blessed to be able to run,” she said. “And  here, we have great volunteers and organizers.”

She admitted to being an everyday runner, no matter the weather, and that she feels awful on any day she is unable to run.

“I’ll go for a hike or go for a run in the forest (for a favorite activity),” she said.

Overall runners-up in the 5-mile race were Michelle Bazzanella in the women’s division, finishing in 40:09, and Bob Lockett in the men’s, in 43:50.

Age-group results follow:

2 ½ Miles

Women 60-and-over — 1, Sheila Franey, 41:04. 2, Cheryl Peterslie, 42:58. 3, Kathy Lubice, 42:58.

Boys 14-and-under _ 1, Jason Real, 24:40.

Men 19-29 — 1, Brian McGeehan, 15:51.

Men 50-59 — 1, Mike Real, 24:45.

5 Miles

Women 20-29 — 1, Jamie Ritter, 44:19.

Women 30-39 –1, Mindy Pennell, 47:18. 2, Jessica Condon, 48:12.

Women 40-49 — 1, Nicole Murray, 36:11. 2, Michelle Bazzanella, 40:09. 3, Dana Erickson, 43:08. 4, Cyndie Lockett, 46:59. 5, Amanda Badovinac 47.50. 6, Suzy McClernan, 57:10.

Women 50-59 — 1, Carrie Holland 42:55. 2, Karla Pomrenke 52:23.

Women 60-and-over — 1, Eddie Walker, 52:06.

Men 40-49 — 1, Jeff Erickson, 44:42. 2, Jeff Owens, 45:03. 3, Brett Badovinac, 47:52.

Men 50-59 — 1, Bob Whelan, 43:19. 2, Bob Lockett, 43:50. 3, Bill Kearney, 44:31. 4, Larry Driscoll, 46:39. 5, Mike Kearney, 55:44.

Men 60-69 — 1, Rande Farrow, 47:40. 2, Vern Roberts, 52:01. 3, Joe Griffin, 52.06.

Men 70-and-over — 1, Tom McGuire, 1:01.56. 2, Jim Lester, 1:03.01. 1 comment

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1 Comment

  • Joe Renouard
    November 11, 2018, 9:44 pm

    My dad, Clar Renouard, won this race in 1946. He told me he was roped into the race, the day of the race, and ran in street shoes. A brother at Central basically told him he was going run and that was that. He also said a number of veterans, who just returned from the war, ran for Butte High and were men among boys. He also told me he was gassed by the time they started to pass Central and he was going to start walking, but the Brothers started yelling at him to get going, and not wanting to face the wrath and scorn of the Brother’s his adrenaline kicked and he sprinted to the finish line.


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