Leave Boring Behind Rafting

This great slogan “Leave Boring Behind” is Pangaea River Rafting’s web address:  www.LeaveBoringBehind.com.  Trail Rail Runners take advantage of Montana’s early summer runoff and enjoy a floating trip with Pangaea River Rafting when you come to town to run the 2016 Trail Rail Run.  Call Toll Free 1-877-239-2392 or email: info@leaveboringbehind.com.

Nothing is better for sore muscles than ice cold river water!!!

Thank Pangaea River Rafting for their support of the Trail Rail Run!

Trestle Creek Golf Course Discount

The Trestle Creek Golf Course in St. Regis, Montana is offering all Trail Rail Runners, their friends and their family $5.00 off 9 holes of golf or $6.00 off 18 holes on June 17, June 18, or June 19 this year.Trestle Creek Hole 7

Please set aside some time or opt for a round of golf while you wait for your runners at this beautiful location.  Just tell Dan Parks and his crew that you’re with the Trail Rail Run and want to the use the “Regis9” coupon code.

Trestle CreekSet along the Clark Fork River, Trestle Creek finds that perfect balance that is fun for every level of golfer.  Beginners will find every tee shot to be straight-forward, with only one forced carry on the signature seventh hole.  Advanced players will find that the tree-lined fairways reward the straight driver.  Smooth, beautifully –maintained greens are a joy to putt.  Trestle Creek reflects the pride of a small, active community that embraces the outdoor lifestyle. Trestle Creek reflects the pride of a They offer a beautiful 9 hole course & driving range.  Follow Trestle Creek Golf Course on Facebook or visit their website: http://www.trestlecreekgolf.com/.

Thank you Trestle Creek Golf Course!

The Trail Head Once Again Supports the Trail Rail Run

The Trail Rail Run wants to thank Kimberly and Todd at The Trail Head outdoor retail store in Missoula, Montana for helping us make orders for the Individual 50 Mile Finishers Jackets.

Trail Head LogoWe also give a big shout out to Patagonia for giving us preferred pricing on these great rewards for your amazing accomplishments!

24141_BLKMen’s Patagonia Houdini  Jacket



Women’s Patagonia Houdini Jacket

Vo Knows … Racing Photography

If you have been following Trail Rail Run Facebook or Twitter posts you have seen photo credits being given to Vo-tography Images.  Behind Vo-tography Images is Volkmar von Sehlen, a.k.a., “Vo.”  Of course, Missoula area runners will recognize Vo’s name, or if not, at least his photos!  He’s out there on the trails with us – running, or if not running, taking our photos while we do!  That’s right – Vo is a runner.Trail Rail Run-44  He and his wife Jen have been active in Run Wild Missoula for years.  The couple trained for and ran in the first Missoula Marathon.  Vo has run the event every year since its inception, has been part of the organizing committee (and other committees).

Vo has also been part of the official Pacers Corps for the marathon for several years.   “I REALLY like pacing, motivating and helping other runners to finish THEIR marathon, and hopefully achieve their goal. It’s wonderful to introduce them to our beautiful area and city, talk to them about the Missoula Marathon, Missoula, Montana, our running community, running techniques, the course, and whatnot.  Even though those who start with me in Frenchtown, very often don’t finish ‘with’ me on Higgins bridge in downtown Missoula, but seeing them afterwards, getting hugs, hi-fives, and big smiles, to mention a few, is, besides the verbal ‘thank you’s, thanks enough.”Trail Rail Course-139

Besides running the Missoula Marathon every year, Vo has also run marathons in quite a few other states, Boston, and Europe.  Also, he’s run a few official 50-milers, and a few 54-milers, through the Bob Marshall Wilderness, in one day – just for fun.  He even ran the 48 mile, Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim run at the Grand Canyon all in one day!

You may have seen Vo making you look good hopping over, or splashing through, a stream on the beautiful 11 Miles to Paradise run.  If you’ve braved the Rut at Big Sky, then Vo may have made you look like you were defying death!  He manages to get the most creative, adventure-enhancing views of our life on the trails.

Trail Rail Course-100

“I love what I do, and want people to be active, and inspired by my photos / actions to get off of the couch.  They don’t have to go out and run a 50-miler, just move more, and enjoy the stunning, Montana scenery and opportunities, which are right outside of our doors. ”

Trail Rail Course-59Vo is a formally, German-educated, certified professional photographer as well as formally trained photojournalist (U.S.).  At the age of six, Vo wanted to become a “Cameraman”. A “few” years later, he actually became one!  He started at his first photography-related job about 30 years ago. His professional journey spans over two continents and includes many different types of work, most of which, however, was in the field of photography.  He has spent most of his professional life in photography including some TV  and video.  Vo’s absolute love for photography shines through the stunning pieces of work he creates.Trail Rail Course-48

We at Trail Rail Run are big fans of Vo-tography Images!  We are appreciative of his work and his generosity in sharing his view of the world with us!

Check out more of Vo’s work at Votography Images, and follow him on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

From the Horse’s Mouth

50 Mile Start
Surrounded by wildflowers and ready to go in Mullan, Idaho!

Take it from a 12K runner preparing for the Missoula 1/2 Marathon all the way up to one of the very elite 50 Milers – Runners of the Trail Rail Run each have a unique and yet collective experience in this one-of-a-kind race.   Former participants of the run shared some of these comments and stories:

I was training with Run Wild for the 1/2 marathon in Missoula so this was part of that (for me).

I thought this race was clever and fun and overall one of my most favorite races I’ve done! The discount coupons and railroad peg were great!! Glad you found a way to continue it!!



I ran my first trail rail run in 2015 (30K) and it was my favorite race of the year. The race coordinators and aid station volunteers were super friendly and made it a fun experience. I drove over from Kennewick, WA (about 5 hours away) and camped at the Cabin Creek Campground about 10 miles out of St. Regis. Nice quiet little campground. I grew up in Bozeman and always love coming back to Montana. No wildlife on the run, but some great memories.

First, I made a couple of friends – Scott and Ben.  I really enjoyed getting to know them a bit and running with good company. In fact, Scott ran with me more than intended. He was a bit faster than me, passed me near the start, and was quite a ways in front of me. Then all of the sudden, he was passing me again. I was a bit confused, but it turned out that he missed the aid station and had to double back. When he passed me the second time, I didn’t see him again until the finish line.

I also ran faster than any other long race I have run and give credit to a lady (I believe it was Kelli) who passed me at about 3 miles. She was just a bit faster than me and I set a goal to try and stay with her. I was able to keep up until the last aid station (~15 miles). At that point, she took off like a rocket and I lost sight of her, but she set a great pace for me for much of the race. After the race, she told me that she took a caffeinated gel at the last aid station that gave her an energy blast. I’ll have to try that next time!

Lastly, the chocolate milk at the finish was awesome! Thank you so much for bringing the race back this year. I’m planning to do the 50K this year.


Five of us gals came Boise, ID—I did the 30K, two others did the 50K, and the remaining two the 50 Miler. I can’t speak for them, but I had a great time. This was my first Rail to Trail Race. I enjoyed the course, especially since there was a slight downhill most of the way, the race tech shirt (my very favorite), the sound of the bugle being blown to start the race, awesome volunteers, beautiful scenery with one deer, with good food and beer at the end. Oh, the very nice cook book and Huckleberry Milk Shake voucher; a definite plus.



Woo hoo! I’m so glad the race is on, I had so much fun last year.



Temps were decent for the day…probably high 40’s at the 6am (Idaho time) start at the Shoshone Park area near Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan. The high was projected at 79 for the day, though it was probably around 74-76 when I finished at just after 1:30 pm which was definitely warm and affected my performance, but wasn’t too bad. This year numbers were up from the prior two years, with, I heard, 49 starters (though only 39 finished: 20 females / 19 males). I think the prospects of a Patagonia Houdini running shell just for finishing the 50-mile race surely attracted a few people. At $100 and with the ability to defer participation to next year if needed, you basically get your money back in schwag for your race fee and really couldn’t lose if you signed up.

I wouldn’t call the Trail Rail 50-mile a really competitive race as there is no prize money, so the average runner is pretty pedestrian. I went out as per my plan at no faster than an 8-minute pace and never getting my HR over 139. I did pretty good from the start at just running my own, patient, race and reeling people in as I went who went out too hard. Me and another guy—maybe Curtis…not sure—went out in the lead, but soon that runner had pulled away from me and within a few minutes another chase pack ran by composed of three men and the two lead women.

I had some rough-ish miles from about 28 or 30 until 40 or 45. The trail opens up through there and has some long, exposed straightaways where, after the cool, shady morning, the sun begins to beat down and the trail surface, combined with the fact that I had been running for 4+ hours by that point, becomes less forgiving. Lump that with my one big Aid Station complaint—the water wasn’t cooled and there was NO ice on the course—meant that fatigue started to increase right as my stomach grew less and less tolerant of warm sugary goo, water and Nuun. There were a couple moments where I had flashes of my great race slowing to a walk and my CR and PR hopes being dashed on the hard 1.5-inch minus crushed aggregate and stones of the old rail bed. But, luckily, I was able to re-group a bit by taking slightly longer walking breaks as I downed my half-hourly gel, and as I started to dump water on my chest, head and back as I pulled into each Aid Station. I remember being at a 9:00 average pace at half-marathon mark, and dropping that average down to around 8:55 or maybe even a little faster by the marathon point, but my pace kept slowing a bit through those middle miles and my mile splits started falling from the high-eights to the low-nines after mile 30, and I didn’t see another sub-9-minute split again until mile 46 when I knew the end was near and that I could finish strong.

Luckily I struggled through it and by mile 45 when I knew I wasn’t going to eat anymore gel, I had a free hand as I had my empty BodyBottle tucked in jersey, and as the trail softened up a bit and became more shaded and cooler, I knew I’d be able to pull it off. I thought the course record was out of reach at that point (as I had been using 51 miles as the race length to figure out my pre-race pace predictions), but still figured a PR was 90% possible. I still wasn’t aware that the course this year was .5 miles shorter than what I had run in 2013, so when I came out the end of the RR grade and made the hard left on the road up and over the overpass sooner than I thought I should have per my GPS distance, it put a bit of final spring in my step. There was a female runner out in front that I had been chasing a bit (before I realized she had to be a 50K runner). But the fact that she was ahead of me and running gave me motivation to step on it a bit and get past her, which I did just beyond the overpass. I was feeling tired but great and mile 50, my final full mile split, was one of my fastest mile splits at 7:56.9. As I turned the corner into the campground and knew it was only a minute or so more I pushed it even harder, kicking into the finish all alone with my fastest pace and highest HR (161) of the day, just like every great race should end. I didn’t realize I had been that close to not making the old CR, but was really glad I had pushed so hard and actually pulled it off, albeit by a mere 1.31 seconds.

The after race was good—cold chocolate milk and a nice meal of pulled pork sandwich, watermelon, potato salad and baked beans. They had an inflatable kiddie pool at the medical tent and man did it feel great to lay down in it on my back with my head on the inflatable side like a pillow and rinse off my dusty, sweaty, salty body. Schwag was great: Patagonia Houdini running pull-over ($90 msrp, really nice and will be great for IMTUF!) along with a race t-shirt, gel, beef jerky sample, metal water bottle and some other stuff, along with the commemorative finisher’s RR spike for every 50-mile finisher.

For placing second I won a Nathan’s “Trail Mix” hydration belt with a couple of 10oz. bottles and a rear pouch pre-loaded with some gels and running food. Not really a waist-belt guy anymore, but pretty nice prize. After hanging around the finish for a couple hours and getting refreshed and changed I found a ride back with a 50K runner named Lisa from Spokane who drove me back to the race start in Mullan so I could get my car. I didn’t really have a plan on how I was going to pick up my car since Aaron couldn’t come crew for me at the last minute, but figured something would work out, and I sure didn’t want to have to get up at 1:30 or 2am in order to allow time to drop Hawkins off and make it all the way out to St. Regis and pay $10 so I could be bussed to the start and have my car at the finish instead.

Overall, great day. I ran smart and kept my HR in the mid-to-upper 130s (136 overall average) and then finished pretty strong. My fastest mile was a 7:44.5 at mile nine coming downhill out of Lookout Pass, and my slowest mile was mile 20 at 10:57. My overall mile split average ended up at a 9:03 for the race, coming in just under the 4-hour marathon pace of 9:09.

Not sure if I could ever do this course in under seven hours, but I think I could get close.


New – 50 Mile Team Relay

IMG_4081New Relay Event!
The 50 mile course of the Trail Rail Run lends itself perfectly to a relay course, with easy highway access at transition points.  In 2016, we will offer a 50 mile Team Relay.  Teams will be made up of 2-7 runners.

The course sets up nicely for up to 7 legs: Mullan to Lookout (8 miles), Lookout Pass to Taft Exit (9.5 miles downhill), Taft to Saltese (7.5 miles),  Saltese to Deborgia (9 miles), Deborgia to Ward Creek (7.5 miles), and finally either a 7.5 mile leg from Ward Creek to St. Regis or two shorter end legs – one from Ward Creek to Two Mile Road and then the last leg from Two Mile Road to St. Regis (~3-4 miles each).  We feel the relay option gives folks the chance to see some of the wonderful sections of the 50 mile course when they might not otherwise have the opportunity to do so.  The relay will be group (overall) timed only (at least this first year), individual legs of the race will not be timed.  Relay team captains are responsible for changing runners in exchange zones and making sure the last runner wears the timing chip to cross the finish line.   A couple of extra exchange zones could be an option and we can discuss this with relay team captains.   The relay offers friends, co-workers, and families the option of completing the race as a team in a fun environment.

Team captains will need to go into the registration page and create a team.  Give your team a unique name and even upload a photo or image.  Then let your team members know to go and JOIN your team.  They will add themselves to the team and pay their participation fee.   Email  trailrailrun@gmail.com with questions about the new relay event.

TRR Transitions in 2016

2015 Trail Rail Run Post-race smiles of Sarah Rhoades and son.
TRR post-race smiles, Sarah Rhoades and son.

Hello, my name is Sarah Rhoades. I am a patent and trademark attorney in Missoula, Montana and a 2 year veteran of the Trail Rail Run 30K race along with my husband (50 Mile finisher in 2014) and our best friends from Spokane (two year race veterans).

When I received the email earlier this fall conveying the decision to discontinue the Trail Rail Run for 2016, I exclaimed “Oh No!” and immediately emailed my husband. Within a few short days I had met with race founder and director of 3 years, Jennifer Straughan about possibly continuing with the legacy of the race she created.

During the past months, I have learned a lot about how much time and effort Jennifer and many others put into this race’s inception and creation. The beginning years sound like they were particularly arduous. Thankfully, due to the support of the St. Regis community and due to Jennifer’s excellent work, the race has been a success and has a continuing participant interest, a strong sponsorship base, and of course, a beautiful space within which to continue.

As part of taking on the race, I believed it vital to have the race continue without a gap year, for the sake of landowners, participants, and sponsors. I also had ideas to improve runner participation and experience in the race with a few specific goals. First, I wanted to add a relay, or team event, at the 50 mile race distance. Teams could be formed of at least 2 runners and exchange points would likely limit team sizes to 7. I am hopeful we can get enough teams to participate to make it more entertaining for all involved. Although we needed a slight modification in the Forest Service permit, Elizabeth “Beth” Kennedy helped us through this. Next, again with the help of Beth and her trails team, we are optimistic we’ll be able to improve yet another stretch of the trail which has been the notoriously, ankle-rolling stretch of river rock in the past. Never fear runners! Finally, I’d like to increase the marketing of the race to Missoula Marathon participants and the Missoula running community. My goal is to keep a seamless transition from Jennifer’s race to a St. Regis Community Council race event by keeping the organization going and continually seeking to improve it. One day I hope to once again participate in the race with my husband and our best friends!

See you on the trails!


Ham Operators and the Trail Rail Run

Cell phone reception is little to nonexistent in the narrow, cell-phone-tower-free canyon from Lookout to St. Regis which constitutes the Trail Rail Run.  Without the Ham Operators our ability to communicate everything from supply needs at the various aid stations, to medical needs for runners, would be difficult at best and far less timely.

Ham Radio Operators are the world’s biggest volunteers.  They travel far and wide, helping out for large and small events like the Trail Rail Run.  It costs them way more money to do this traveling than they receive in shirts and other event swag.

With the Ham Operators we can stay on top of the game, move supplies where needed, know where runners are on the course, communicate with the medical director, and much more.  Ham Operators  are a critical part of our Trail Rail Run event.

Please put your hands together for our amazing Ham Radio Operators that volunteer year after year!

Bus Shuttle Departures

Shuttle bus departures from the finish in St. Regis to the respective starting lines are set.  Get to St. Regis Travel Center early.  It will be open and all buses leave from that location.  Parking is one mile down the road in the helipad so account for that.  If you’re using the High Risk Taker Saturday Morning Packet Pickup operation, be there even earlier.

Bus drivers do not count heads — they just shut the door and leave at the appointed time and they are exacting.  Please don’t be one of those people who is getting a coffee as your bus driver is taking off.

In our universe here in western Montana, Montana Time = Mountain Daylight Savings Time, and Idaho Time = Pacific Daylight Savings Time.

50 Mile bus leaves at 5:25 am Montana Time

50K bus leaves at 6:45 am Montana Time

30K bus leaves at 8 am Montana Time

10K bus leaves at 9:10 am Montana Time

The St. Regis School District kindly provides the buses and drivers and they have a new component this year… they need you to sign a waiver.  You will need it to get on the bus.  Really you can’t blame them.  The waiver will be with your race number.  Make sure you are clutching it so you can get onto your bus.

Camping and the Trail Rail Run

For those of you thinking of camping out for the Trail Rail Run, there are options.  There are numerous private and Forest Service campgrounds around St. Regis within a short hop of the Run Central.

Nugget Campground and RV Park in St. Regis, 406-649-2122, http://www.nuggetrvpark.com/

Campground St. Regis, 406-649-2470, http://www.campgroundstregis.com/

Forest Service rental cabins/bunkhouse/cookhouse at Savenac Nursery, 406-822-4233, http://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/lolo/recreation/camping-cabins

Cabin City Campground at Henderson exit, http://visitmt.com/listing/categories_NET/MoreInfo.aspx?IDRRecordID=2174

Sloway Campground between Sloway & Dry Creek exits, http://visitmt.com/listing/categories_NET/MoreInfo.aspx?IDRRecordID=17757&siteid=3

Trout Creek Campground 7 miles out of Superior,  http://visitmt.com/listing/categories_NET/MoreInfo.aspx?IDRRecordID=2398&siteid=1

Quartz Flat Campground on both sides of I-90 east of Superior, http://www.travelmt.com/mt_sites_2397_Quartz+Flat+Campground.html

Cascade Campground halfway down MT 135 between St. Regis and MT 200, 406-826-3821, http://visitmt.com/listing/categories_NET/MoreInfo.aspx?IDRRecordID=2273&siteid=4

Numerous smaller dispersed sites with minimal improvements in all directions on National Forest property.