Choose Your Own Adventure: Summer and Fall 2024

Bike, walk, run or swim your way through these events this summer

By Micah Drew
About 1,000 runners head east on Second Street for the Whitefish Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K in Whitefish on May 22, 2021. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

May 18

Whitefish Marathon

More than 1,000 runners have registered for the Whitefish Marathon, half-marathon or 5k, making this one of the largest events in Montana. For the fourth year in a row, the marathon distance has been awarded the Road Runners Club of America Marathon State Championship, as well as the regional championship. All three events start together at Depot Park and finish at the same location. Due to record interest this year, race organizers have implemented capacity limits, but there are still a few spots left!

May 26

Bigfork Whitewater Festival SUP Races

Part of the four-day whitewater festival that sends elite paddlers down the Wild Mile of the Swan River, the stand up paddleboard races offer a more mellow way to take part in the fun. The flat water race includes a beginner (.5 miles), intermediate (1.2 miles) and an advanced (2.7 miles) course to accommodate all abilities.

June 9

Herron Half Marathon, 10k and 5k Trail Run

Money raised by this event goes to Foy’s to Blacktail Trail’s efforts to maintain and build more trails stretching from Herron Park towards Blacktail Mountain, including this year’s project on Emmons Ridge. The Whitefish Community Foundation recently awarded Foys to Blacktail Trails the Doris Schumm Community Spirit award for their work on behalf of the Flathead Valley. https://www.ftbtraces.com/

July 13

Logan Health Kids Triathlon 

This event is for children 4-13 years old who want to “TRI” a new event at Woodland Park. The race consists of a swim, bike and run and is broken down into age groups. The 4- and 5-year-old age group will swim 25 yards, bike a half-mile and run 500 yards; the 6-8 year olds will swim 50 yards, bike a mile and run 500 yards; the 9-10 year olds will swim 100 yards, bike 2 miles and run a mile; and the oldest group will swim 150 yards, bike 3 miles and run 1 mile.

July 20

The Big Mountain Run — Danny On Hill Climb

For the 42nd year, dedicated aerobic enthusiasts will once again tackle the challenge of motoring up from the base of Whitefish Mountain Resort’s ski area on Big Mountain to its summit on leg power alone. Take your pick between a lung-busting fitness challenge, a casual family friendly hike or any variation in between for this popular annual hill climb. Beginning near the Hellroaring Saloon, participants will trek 3.8 miles up the Danny On Trail, climbing 2,200 feet to reach the Summit House. Special prizes are awarded for the fastest finishers, the oldest and youngest finishers and the anyone who finishes in less time than their age. Proceeds benefit the Glacier Nordic Club. 

Buffalo Run

This series of fun runs is part of the St. Ignatius Good Old Days event hosted by St. Luke Community Healthcare. There are 1-, 4-, and 7-mile runs, but the half-marathon will not be contested this year. All races begin on Main Street in St. Ignatius and diverge onto different scenic loops.

July 21

Flathead Lake Run

Enjoy magnificent Flathead Lake views while you run/walk your way towards helping preserve and protect Flathead Lake with a 10k, 5k or 1-mile kids run. A portion of all proceeds will benefit the Flathead Lakers — a nonprofit organization working to keep the lake clean through policy, outreach and education — and the Flathead Lake Biological Station. Music, festivities and beer from Tamarack Brewery will be available after the race in Volunteer Park.

July 27

Boogie to the Bank

Get your boogie on during Heritage Days with this Columbia Falls tradition. As part of the city’s annual community festival, the 5k and 10k races annually draw fast, colorful competition. Participants are shuttled up to the start on the North Fork Road before running or walking back into the heart of Columbia Falls. 

Cyclists pedal through the mountains outside Whitefish during the Last Best Ride. Photo credit: Dillon Caldwell

July 28

Last Best Ride

Each summer, 550 cyclists descend on the Flathead Valley to take part in either the 48(ish)-mile or 90(ish)-mile gravel bike race that loops around Whitefish Mountain Resort, Haskill Basin and the Flathead National Forest. The event sells out every year, so it’s good to plan your participation ASAP. If riding isn’t your style, but you still want to take part in the atmosphere of the Last Best Ride, aggressive spectating and cheering is highly encouraged on race day. Portions of the proceeds from the race go to the Champion Scholar Award.

August 10

Swim the Fish

Dive into the beautiful water of Whitefish Lake and take on the challenge of swimming a half-mile, mile, or 5k through alpine waters. All distances will begin and end at City Beach in Whitefish, where participants will be treated to a huckleberry pancake feed following the swim. 

September 9

Great Fish Fun Run

An excellent way to continue showing support for the Great Fish Community Challenge is to run or walk for your favorite charity. There are competitive and non-competitive 5k options with costumes and creativity highly encouraged.

September 8

Foys to Blacktail Marathon

Foys to Blacktail is hosting the sixth edition of its eponymous trail marathon this fall. The race starts along Blacktail Road in Lakeside, takes runners to the top of Blacktail Mountain, reaching an elevation of 6,716 feet before descending for 20 miles to Herron Park. This is the only trail marathon in northwest Montana run entirely on singletrack.

September 14-15

The Cino Heroica

Montana’s only vintage gravel bike race takes place over two days, stretching between Kila and Hot Springs. Riders traverse roughly 110 miles of mostly unpaved roads on retro bicycles. Riders suffer, bikes break and memories are made. The ride is a fundraiser for the Kalispell Montessori school.

Jason Thompson at the start of the Cino Heroica bicycle ride. Beacon file photo

September 21

Cedar Creek Marathon and Half Marathon

Logan Health puts on a a point-to-point half- and full-marathon along the edge of Glacier National Park. The marathon begins at Big Creek Campground and end in Columbia Falls, offering a mix of gravel and pavement along this Boston Qualifying course. There are also 10k and 5k events offering a distance for the whole family.

October 5-6

Whitefish Trail Blazer

Whitefish Legacy Partners hosts a weekend of running events on the Whitefish Trail. New this year, Saturday’s 50k Mountain Ultra starts and ends at the base of Whitefish Mountain Resort, sending runners up Big Mountain, down to the Reservoir trailhead and through Stoltze land. Sunday’s half-marathon, 10k, 5k and family fun run will explore the Whitefish Trail in Beaver Lakes, starting and ending at the Whitefish Bike Retreat. Race registration will be capped, with more entries released as conditions improve.  

A competitor in the 2021 Whitefish Trail Legacy Run 50k Mountain Ultra. Photo courtesy Whitefish Legacy Partners

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