Reminding Racers of the Glacier Challenge’s Purpose

By Beacon Staff

In nine years, the Glacier Challenge has grown into one of Northwest Montana’s premier races, yet many people are unaware of its fundamental purpose.

There are even racers who don’t know that the event is a fundraiser for the Flathead Youth Home. They just know that it’s a great race.

This year, event organizers are trying to reconnect participants with the race’s roots.

Though the Glacier Challenge is over a month away, scheduled for July 9 at Whitefish’s Riverside Park, registration has already started and Flathead Youth Home’s Hannah Plumb is trying emphasize the race’s significance as a vital fundraiser for her nonprofit organization.

The Flathead Youth Home is a shelter for kids in crisis, ages 10 through 18, who are dealing with difficulties such as chemical dependency, problems at home, mental health issues and abuse. Some are runaways. The home provides stability in an unstable world for these kids.

“We’ve worked really hard on it over the years but I think there’s still a disconnect between the race and the fundraiser part of it,” Plumb, the event’s head organizer, said. “We wanted to come up with a way for racers to be more connected with the reason we have this event.”

Unlike past years, racers are being asked to consider raising funds to cover registration fees instead of paying out of their own pocket. By doing this, Plumb said racers become more aware of the race’s connection to the Flathead Youth Home.

They also spread word about the youth home as they go to family members, neighbors and coworkers for funds. Registration costs $75 for solo racers, $125 for partners, $250 for teams and $350 for corporate team sponsorships.

An added bonus, Plumb said, is that any excess money raised will also go to the Flathead Youth Home. The top three fundraising teams win prizes.

Last year was the biggest year yet for the Glacier Challenge. Between 350 and 375 athletes participated, Plumb said, including 75 teams that signed up and 72 that finished the race.

The race begins at Riverside Park in Whitefish and covers 50 miles. It is divided into segments of distance running, kayaking, road biking, mountain biking and canoeing. The race will feature chip timing provided by Matthew Smeltzer of Run Whitefish.

“Just from the chatter I think it’s going to be a really great turnout,” Plumb said.

More than simply the sheer number of participants, the Glacier Challenge has grown into a major event in other regards. This year the race day will once again feature food provided by Qdoba and Nomad Global Communications Solutions is bringing a mobile command center to flash race updates on a screen, along with slide shows from past races.

New to this year’s event is a Friday night pre-race party on July 8. Participants can get their race packets, bibs and timing bracelets while meeting other racers in a less intense atmosphere than race day, Plumb said. There will be live music, beer and food. To attend, $10 should be added to the registration fee.

On the day of the race, a children’s obstacle course will be set up to keep the kids in attendance busy.

“More and more it’s becoming a family thing,” Plumb said.

For more information, visit www.theglacierchallenge.com or call (406) 755-4622.

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