Choose Your Own Adventure: Footraces in the Flathead Valley

A breakdown of local races this spring, summer and fall

By Dillon Tabish
Two Bear Marathon. Beacon File Photo

Have a new race to add to the calendar? Send information to [email protected] For an updated race schedule, visit flatheadbeaconrunningclub.com.

Tuesdays & Thursdays

Beacon Running Club

The Beacon Running Club meets twice a week for group runs with people of all abilities. On Tuesdays, the group usually gathers at the Beacon office in downtown Kalispell at 5:30 p.m. Every other Thursday in the spring and summer, the group meets at a location in Whitefish at 6 p.m., with specific locations posted earlier that day on Facebook and the club’s website. The club’s goal is to connect the valley’s runners, walkers and other active residents. By joining the club, members receive discounts to several races.

Sign Up: flatheadbeaconrunningclub.com

April 17

A Run Through History, Kalispell

In its seventh year, this 5K and 10K continues to grow. This year’s event will feature a block party afterward on Fourth Street West near Kalispell Brewing Company in downtown. The races start at 1 p.m. at the Museum at Central School and send participants through Woodland Park, past the Conrad Mansion Museum and through the historic eastside residential district before concluding near Hockaday Museum of Art. The block party is free and open to the public with live music, food and drinks. This is a family fun event and runners, walkers and strollers are invited to participate. A portion of proceeds go to Cancer Support Communities.

Sign Up: downtownkalispell.com

April 23

Dash of the Dead 5K Race & Chase, Kalispell

This fun new addition to the racing calendar is for families and friends looking for an exciting, untimed 5K. Each participant will receive two flags, or life lines, and there will be opportunities to purchase more flags. Zombies will attempt to take away participants’ flags during the race and the goal is to finish with at least one flag still attached. Participants are encouraged to wear weather appropriate clothing and shoes that will allow you to maneuver easily through the course. Zombie costumes are strongly encouraged. Participants ages 8-12 need to be accompanied by an adult. Parental consent is required for anyone under the age of 18. $25 registration fee is non-refundable. All proceeds benefit the Montana Woman Foundation Scholarship Fund.

Sign Up: montanawoman.com

April 30

Eureka Rendezvous Days Fun Run

In conjunction with the local Shape Up Montana groups and Rendezvous Days, this fourth annual 5K fun run or walk starts at 9 a.m. at Indian Springs Ranch Golf Course in Eureka. This event is a way for families and friends to participate in a fun, healthy community activity. All proceeds support the Eureka Running Club, which funds the school’s cross country and track programs.

Sign Up: secure.getmeregistered.com/RendezvousRun

May 1

Flathead Valley Girls on the Run 5K, Kalispell

Presented by Sykes, this fun run/walk supports the new Flathead Valley Girls on the Run Chapter. The race will begin and end at the Flathead Valley Community College. Registration ends at April 30.

Sign Up: competitivetiming.com

May 7-8

Montana Spartan Race, Bigfork

Back by popular demand, the two-day Spartan Race is returning to the Flathead Lake Lodge for the fourth year. Nearly 7,000 competitors braved last year’s obstacle course races near Bigfork. On Saturday, participants will attempt The Beast, the most difficult race in the Spartan series. To conquer the Beast, competitors will tackle 12-14 miles of course and over 30 obstacles. The total elevation gain is over 3,000 feet and organizers estimate the average finish time to be over five hours. On Sunday, competitors will brave the Spartan Sprint, which is back for a fourth year and will once again feature roughly 3-5 miles of single track trail, old roads and frequent bushwhacking, as well as over 20 obstacles. The average finish time is 80 minutes and the fastest time is 35 minutes. Waves of 250 athletes will be released every 15 minutes across three groups (elite, morning, afternoon).

Sign Up: spartan.com/en/race/detail/1084/overview

May 14

Mary Kay 5K & One-Mile Fun Run, Kalispell

Held annually at Lawrence Park, this family fun run benefits the Mary Kay Foundation. Registration opens at 8 a.m., the one-mile fun run starts at 9 a.m., followed by the 5K at 9:30 a.m. Awards and raffle prizes will be at 11 a.m.

Sign Up: content2.marykayintouch.com/Public/MKACF/Upcoming/05.14.16.mk5k.pdf

May 15

Whitefish Animal Hospital WAG Race

This dog-friendly event is an annual favorite. The seventh annual event features a 15K, 4-mile and one-mile run that starts and finishes at the Hugh Rogers Wag Park in Whitefish, one of the 10 best dog parks in the nation, according to USA Today. Dogs can only participate in the one-mile and four-mile distances. Afterward enjoy food, drinks, raffle prizes and live music.

Sign Up: flatheadbeaconrunningclub.com

May 21

Sunburst 2nd Annual Amazing Race, Kalispell

Dress up and enjoy this fun competition that supports the Sunburst Crisis Fund. This event sends two-person teams through the community with a ‘passport,’ as well as clues, a goody bag, race bib and a t-shirt to solve puzzles and challenges, beginning in Depot Park.

Sign Up: sunburstamazingrace.splashthat.com

Pete’s Spring Run-Off, Kalispell

This fun 10K, 5K and one-mile run supports Peterson Elementary School. Families are encouraged to participate in this event, which is based at the school. The 10K starts at 10 a.m. and sends runners on a bus to Foys Lake. The route follows a portion of Rails to Trails and ends at Peterson School. The 5K starts at 10:30 a.m. with a similar bus ride to Foys, and then follows Rails to Trails to Peterson School. The one-mile starts at 11:30 a.m and begins and ends at Peterson School. A kids’ carnival will be held, too.

Sign Up: runsignup.com/Race/MT/Kalispell/PetesSpringRunOff

June 4

Gene Boyle: A Race to Remember, Kalispell

This event, featuring a 5K and half-mile stroll kids race, aims to raise Alzheimer’s awareness. In honor of Gene Boyle, a longtime local teacher, coach, administrator and mentor who is living with dementia. The event will begin and end at Legends Stadium. Following the race, donated items will be given away in drawings.

Sign Up: runsignup.com/Race?raceId=29672

June 5

Herron Half, 10K & 5K, Kalispell

In its fifth year, this scenic challenge follows the trails in Herron Park and is a favorite among local racers. The half marathon involves over 2000 ft vertical gain and the 10K over 800 ft.

Sign Up: runflathead.com

June 17

Relay for Life Flathead County, Kalispell

Hosted at the Flathead County Fairgrounds, raise funds and awareness to save lives from cancer and pay homage to survivors by gaining pledges and walking or running around the track, either individually or as a relay team. This year the separate towns have combined for this one unified event at the Flathead County Fairgrounds. The event runs from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Sign Up: http://relay.acsevents.org/

June 19

Mike Spence Summit Triathlon/Duathlon, Kalispell

The triathlon around Foys Lake is one of the most challenging events for beginners or seasoned competitors. This event includes a half-mile swim, 12.7-mile bike ride and a 3.1-mile run. The duathlon consists of a 3.1-mile run and 12.7-mile bike. Awards for the top three division winners will be presented after the last participant crosses the finish line. Food will be provided.

Sign Up: kalispellregional.org/summit/recreation-events/events/mike-spence-summit-triathlon-duathlon

June 25

The Glacier Challenge & Whitefish Lake Run

Two of the premier competitions have teamed up for an action-packed day of activity. This combined event is all about options. Run a 5K or 10K, tackle a triathlon or complete the whole Glacier Challenge as a soloist or with a team. Participants of the Challenge enter as individuals, partners, and teams of up to seven members and race both competitively and recreationally. In its 14th year, the Glacier Challenge features six legs of running, biking, canoeing and kayaking covering over 40 miles of beautiful terrain in and around Whitefish. The race begins at City Beach.

Sign Up: theglacierchallenge.com

July 4

Grateful Nation Montana’s 6th Annual Freedom 5K Run/Walk, Bigfork

The Freedom Run/Walk is a great event to kickstart our Independence Day festivities before the town parade. This family friendly event is a great way to kick start Independence Day before the parade. It’s a fun event for all ages and abilities. It begins at Brookside Yard and travels along the scenic Swan River Nature Trail. Proceeds benefit the Grateful Nation Montana scholarship fund.

Sign Up: GratefulNationMontana.com

July 16

First Montana Bank Flathead Valley Kids Triathlon, Kalispell

This family friendly event at Woodland Water Park in downtown is for children 4-13 years of age who want to compete in a triathlon. This event is made up of a swim, bike and run and is broken down into age groups.The 4-5 age groups will swim 25 yards and must have a parent in water with them, bike half-mile and run 500 yards. The 6-8 age group will swim 50 yards — parent can help if needed in the water— bike one-mile and run 500 yards. The 9-13 age group will swim 150 yards, bike three miles and run one mile.

Sign Up: 751-4133

July 24

Rebecca Farm to Market XC Run, Kalispell

Enjoy a 5K run through Rebecca Farm, the 640-acre property in the West Valley. This race is in conjunction with The Event, one of the largest equestrian triathlons in the U.S.  The course follows a path over small hills and through open pasture. Registration fees benefit Halt Cancer at X. The race starts at 9 a.m. at the pavilion next to the trade fair.

Sign Up: runsignup.com

July 30

Boggie to the Bank, Columbia Falls

Get your boogie on during Heritage Days with this popular 5K and 10K event. As part of Columbia Falls’ annual community festival, these races annually draw fast, colorful competition. The race starts on the North Fork Road and ends in the heart of Columbia Falls.

Sign Up: cfallsheritagedays.com

Aug. 6

34th Annual Big Mountain Trail Run, Whitefish

This challenging but rewarding race ascends Whitefish Mountain Resort and crowns the king and queen of the mountain, as well as the prince and princess and the top dog finishers. Run or hike 3.8 miles with 2,434 ft. elevation gain to the summit of Big Mountain. Proceeds support the Glacier Nordic Ski Team.

Sign Up: glaciernordicclub.com

Aug. 7

Xterra Flathead Triathlon

New this year, this Kalispell race is an off-road Olympic triathlon that is sanctioned by USAT. The event takes place at Foys Lake and Herron Park. There are two options: the XTERRA Flathead distance and a sprint option. The distance for the extended sprint is a .93-mile swim, 15.6-mile bike ride and 6.2-mile run. The distance for the sprint is half-mile swim, 10.6-mile bike ride, and three-mile run.

Sign Up: kalispellregional.org/summit/recreation-events/events/xterra-flathead

Aug. 13

YFC Seeley Lake Challenge Triathlon/Duathlon

This family friendly event offers two competitions in Seeley Lake. Intended as a race for everyone in the family, this features a triathlon with swimming long and short distances as well as a kids swim. There is also the biathlon with biking and shooting or running and shooting competitions.

Sign Up: www.raceseeley-montana.info

Sept. 10

Great Fish 5K/10K Color Run, Whitefish

As part of the Great Fish Community Challenge, a fundraising event that supports local nonprofits, this race is a family friend competition that gets colorful from start to finish.

Sign Up: greatfishchallenge.org

Sept. 18

Two Bear Marathon and Half Marathon, Whitefish

One of the more revered marathons in the region, this popular event begins outside of Whitefish at the Lion Mountain trailhead and follows a challenging course through scenic trails and eventually ending at The Wave Fitness Center. The half marathon starts at the upper Whitefish Road, about 2 miles off East Lakeshore Drive.

Sign Up: twobearmarathon.org

Oct. 1

Second Annual Craft Beer Relay, Bigfork

Unlike other local races, this event tests your endurance and palate. Team up in costumes and tackle this fun race on the shoreline of Flathead Lake while tasting craft beer from across Montana. The course is roughly three miles and sends four-person relay teams through games and individual challenges. There are a limited number of team openings.

Sign Up: craftbeerrelay.com/event/bigfork-mt

Oct. 2

Pink Me Up! 1K/5K, Kalispell

This popular 1K/5K walk/run is a non-timed event that is fun for the whole family. The event is to celebrate and honor the lives of loved ones who have experienced cancer and bring awareness about cancer to the valley.

Sign Up: kalispellregional.org/krmc/services/breast-health/pink-me-up-1k-5k-color-celebration

Oct. 8

Le Grizz Ultramarathon, Polebridge

This epic race was founded in 1982 and is now one of the oldest 50-mile footraces in the world.  Since changing venues, the event is now held in Polebridge and the course tackles the North Fork, finishing at the Mercantile.

Sign Up: runlegrizz.com

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