Choose Your Own Adventure

The ultimate guide to local races this summer and fall

By Madeleine Lamon
Two Bear Marathon. Beacon File Photo

July 4 

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

Open to all ages and all fitness levels, this run/walk leads participants along the picturesque Swan River Nature Trail. All proceeds from the eighth annual event are donated to the Grateful Nation Montana Children’s scholarship fund. Check-in begins around 8 a.m. at the Brookside Yard Café, and the race starts at 9 a.m. Participants can leave with savory cookies and shiny medals.

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July 14

First Montana Bank Flathead Valley Kids Triathlon, Kalispell

Calling all blossoming competitors: This race, which consists of a swim, bike and run, caters solely to kids 4 to 13 years old. Each age group — 4-5 year olds, 6-8 year olds and 9-13 year olds — is assigned a color and competes in a different version of the challenge. All ages will meet at the pool area of Woodland Water Park at 9 a.m., and the young athletes can munch on snacks after crossing the finish line.

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July 28

Boogie to the Bank, Columbia Falls

Part of the Columbia Falls Heritage Days, this event invites participants to race through the heart of the city in a number of events, including a 10K run, a 10K hand cycle, a 5K run, a 5K walk and a “Rat Race” for the kids (4 – 13 years old.) After crossing the finish line, the youngest competitors can continue to boogie at an after party at JIM Gym.

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July 29

Whitefish Lake Triathlon

Starting at City Beach, competitors swim ½ mile, bike 20K and run 5K along scenic Whitefish Lake. The race will start at 9 a.m. sharp, and participants, who can compete solo or with a team, are encouraged to bring a wet suit for their quick dip in the lake. “Little Triathletes” are welcome to compete in a “Lil Guy” race after the adults are finished. Attendees can feast on pizza and other snacks and revel in the opportunity to win medals and prizes from Sportsman Ski Haus.

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August 4

Big Mountain Run, Whitefish

The 36th annual event invites participants to run or hike 3.8 miles to the summit of Big Mountain. Racers are invited to bring their families and their dogs (who must be on a leash). All human competitors can ride the chair lift down the mountain. Proceeds benefit the Glacier Nordic Ski Team. The race starts at 10 a.m. sharp.

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August 11

YFC Seeley Lake Challenge Triathlon/Duathlon

Family friendly and loads of fun, this race caters to athletes of all levels. Interested competitors can sign up, either with a team or on their own, for the triathlon with a short or long swim (300 versus 600 yards) or the duathlon (a combination of biking and running.) Youngsters can race in the kids triathlon, crossing the same finish line as the adults. After completing their races, athletes can celebrate by chowing down on a BBQ feast.

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August 18

Flathead Lake 5K, Lakeside

Race alongside the breathtaking shores of Flathead Lake to raise funds for Flathead Lakers, a nonprofit devoted to preserving clean water and thriving ecosystems in the Flathead Watershed. All participants receive free T-shirts and beer or root beer from the Tamarack Brewing Co. The event starts at 10 a.m.

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August 18-19

12 & 24 Hours of Flathead, Kalispell

Simple yet demanding, this sixth annual event at Herron Park challenges participants, either solo or with teammates, to complete as many laps as possible in a 12 or 24-hour period. Racers can cruise on the adaptive hand cycle course (about 2 miles of trail) or the non-adaptive bicycle course (about 8.5 miles of trail) through Herron Park, or they can enter the race to ride a “hot lap,” completing a single loop as quickly as they can. With as many, or as few, breaks as desired, riders can relish live music, free camping, food and beer.

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September 8

Great Fish Community Challenge Color Run/Walk, Whitefish

Be prepared to get messy and dash through Whitefish on a 5K course or a 1-mile course as race organizers shower athletes with non-toxic colored powder for a rainbow race. Family and pet friendly, the race will begin at 10 a.m. during a community celebration brimming with food, entertainment and fun.

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September 16

Two-Bear Marathon & Half Marathon, Whitefish

After getting canceled in 2017 due to wildfires, this beloved race is back with an all-road course, with both the full and half marathon beginning and ending at Depot Park in downtown Whitefish. Participants can race solo or in teams of at least four. A celebratory post-race party will be held in Depot Park with free drinks and savory comfort food from Piggyback BBQ. Runners party for free. Friends and family can join for $5.

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September 23

Foy’s to Blacktail Trails Marathon

Race the trails in this brand new event. Registration will be limited to 50 runners. Email for more information.

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October 7

Whitefish Trail Legacy Run

Choose your path as you race through the Beaver Lakes Area of Whitefish Trail. The event boasts a half marathon, a 10K encircling Murray Lake, a 5k along the South Beaver Loop and a Family Fun Run of about 1.5 miles through the forest.

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October 13

Le Grizz Ultramarathon, Polebridge

Founded in 1982, this legendary race is not for the faint of heart. Since being purchased by the iconic Polebridge Mercantile in 2015, more than a hundred racers have gathered at the Merc to run 50 miles on gravel and paved road along the North Fork Flathead River.

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