By Bruce Sayler
The Butte Veterans Day runners will trek through anything and Saturday gave them a chance to brave and prove it.
All 45 did with smiles, too, as they celebrated the holiday for those so deserving while completing the 2 ½- and 5-mile courses that made up the event, one of the oldest such races held in the United States. Saturday’s holding was the 80th.
The overall winners were Mike LaForest in the males’ 5-mile, race Nicole Murray in the females’ 5-mile, 7-year-old Jason Real in the males’ 2 ½-mile run and 14-year-old Ella Wanamaker in the females’ 2 ½-mile.
Race-time temperatures were in the mid-30s with a cool, slight breeze creating a small headwind down the final stretch to the finish line at the American Legion Hall. A short snowstorm preceded the start at Stodden Park and added to slippery slushy conditions on side streets of the course. The main roads, though, were clear, the runners said.
LaForest, of Missoula, was timed in 32 minutes, 33 seconds, while Murray, a world-class competitor, clocked 35:21. She recently ran for Team Butte in the Montana Cup. Don Foley of Butte was the runner-up to LaForest in the overall men’s standings. Julie Ackerlund of Helena was second to Murray.
Real stepped across the finish line just ahead of his dad, Mike, as the two paced all finishers for the day. Jason’s time was 25:05. Wanamaker, a Butte High freshman, was timed in 30:28.
Real, the Butte first-grader, said he runs every other day and usually a mile. He handled the last hill up to the finish line strongly as he legged just in front of his jogging father.
It was the younger Real’s first attempt in the Butte Veterans Day Run, but two sisters also run, including one, Ida, who competed Saturday.
“The weather doesn’t matter,” Jason Real said, meaning was prepared for whatever elements might’ve greeted him Saturday.
“He ran some last year,” Mike Real, an avid runner himself, said. “He ran a 5K in Missoula and he ran in the school races.”
The high school division award winners were Ryan Moore in the boys’ category and Aubree Corcoran in the girls.’ They were the 5-mile race winners in their divisions and so the 14-year-old Corcoran was presented the Liza Merrifield (Dennehy) Award, and Moore, 17, was the recipient of the Martin and Pat Kearney Award.
Bill Kearney, a brother to the late Pat Kearney and a son of the late Martin Kearney, was the emcee at the awards presentation, and another brother, Mike Kearney, was the awards clerk.
Charlie Merrifield was the timekeeper and another official and helper, Betty Merrifield, Charlie’s wife, was given the John “Scotty Wulfman” Award, named for late Butte running enthusiast John Wulf. The award is for service and volunteerism to the holding of the Butte Veterans Day Race.
U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Montana) attended the awards presentations.
High school -boys – 1, Ryan Moore. 2, Garrett Miller. 3, Sean Foley. 4, Cote Hunter.
Men 19-29 — 1, Trevor Fuhrman. 2, Paul Dailey.
Men 30-39 — 1, Mike LaForest. 2, Daniel Kachmarik. 3, Scott Farrow. 4, Ryan Boswell. 5, Chris Hunter.
Men 40-49 — 1, Don Foley. 2, Ozzie Rosenleaf. 3, Guy Wadas. 4, Josh Moore.
Men 50-59 — 1, Jeff Braun. 2, Bill Kearney.
Men 60-69 — 1, Randee Farrow. 2, Scott Craigle. 3, Vern Roberts. 4, Joe Griffin.
Men 70-79 — 1, Tom McGuire.
High School girls — 1, Aubree Corcoran. 2, Hailey Tonneson. 3, Danica Murphy. 4, Ida Real.
Women 19-29 — 1, Kelsey Jura.
Women 30-39 — 1, Amanda Badovinac. 2, Krystina Farrow. 3, Janelle LaGnaut.
Women 40-49 — 1, Nicole Murray. 2, Cara Whitlock. 3, Cyndie Lockett.
Women 50-59 — 1, Julie Ackerlund. 2, Christina Moore.
Women 60-69 — Lona McClanahan. 2, Eddi Walker.
Male 2 ½-Mile
1, Jason Real. 2, Mike Real. 3, Steve Seitz.
Female 2 ½-Mile
1, Ella Wanamaker. 2, Sheila Franey. 3, Sue Schrader. 4, Melissa Wanamaker. 5, Cheryl Peterslie. 6, Debbie Seitz.