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Ronan man completes ultra-marathon

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RONAN — The Crazy Mountain Ultra Marathon is the only 100-mile race in Montana and is reputed among runners as one of the most grueling in the country. Fifty-six runners were unable to finish, but of the 73 that did, Mike Adams of Ronan was one. 

The Crazy Mountain Ultra starts in Wilsall and ends in Lennen and has approximately 25,000 feet of vertical gain through extreme backcountry. Due to the difficulty of the race, officials don’t allow this to be participants’ first ultra. “Do not underestimate this terrain,” the race website states. “… and the weather doesn’t care what day you’re running. It can be 90 degrees and turn to hailing sideways and then snowing an hour later. You must be prepared for anything.”

“For me, it was kind of crazy,” Adams said of his time in the race. Within the first 20 miles he ended up taking in too much salt, which can lead to gastrointestinal issues during a run and left him with what he described as a mixed experience for the first half of the ultra. Despite these issues at the beginning of his run, Adams was able to finish strong, beating the 36-hour cutoff by hours with a time of 28 hours and 33 minutes. 

A life-long endurance athlete born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, Adams took up running at an early age. “Endurance running has honestly saved my life,” Adams shared. “Early on in my life, my mother passed away and I had some trouble with that, and running was a way to alleviate stress. That just kind of carried through to the rest of my life.” 

Adams continued running through college, obtaining a degree in laboratory science at University of Alaska Anchorage. He moved down to Montana around nine years ago when job opportunities opened and now lives in Ronan with his family. Mike works in the medical field as a clinical laboratory scientist at Providence. Through it all, he’s never stopped running. 

Despite all his experience, however, he credits getting through the race to the support of the people close to him. 

“I work a fulltime job and have four kids. I’m married. It’s not without their support that I’m able to do any of this kind of stuff,” Adams commented. “(And) I had some really awesome pacers, a couple friends of mine.” 

Pacers are not able to help runners carry any equipment, nor are they able to accompany the runner for the entire race. They are, however, able to join in for sections by getting on and off at aid stations along the way. 

“Something like that helps immensely, especially when you’re doing something that challenging,” Adams explained. “I think you could have all the self-motivation on the entire planet but it’s not going to hurt any if you have a couple buddies just telling you ‘Hey, we can get through this. We’re just going to break this down in sections and take it one mile at a time.’”

Adams said he will likely be signing up for another 100-mile marathon soon, as his ultimate goal is to run in Europe at an exclusive race called “Du Mont-Blanc.” Starting and ending in France, the ultra-marathon takes runners through Italy and Switzerland around Mount-Blanc. In order to get into the raffle to join the race, runners must gain points by running other races within two years of their application. The Crazy Mountain Ultra could potentially get Adams six out of the 12 points he would need due to its length and difficulty.  

“Honestly, it’s the experience of the whole thing,” Adams said of his motivation. “I completed my first hundred miler last year, and there’s a saying that goes ‘You live a lifetime when you a hundred-mile race.’ I find it to be very true … and it’s actually really incredible.”

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