Set aside June 28 if you like to play in the mud or would like to volunteer for a race that will benefit Intermountain, a local nonprofit organization that specializes in integrating mental health services for children and their families.
Christie Anderson, director of special projects for Big Sky Orogenic Racing and Events in Missoula, said Wednesday that the organization was bringing a mud and obstacle race to Helena this summer. The race is to be held at the Great Divide Ski Area.
Kevin Taylor, owner of the ski area, said there had been internal discussions about summer events and whether to hold several small ones or a couple of larger events within his organization.
And then this event was proposed, he said.
He sees the race as providing a little additional exposure for the ski hill, which doesn’t market itself beyond the Helena area.
“It should be fun,” he said, adding that it will be a new event for everybody.
The Montana Mucker will premiere here before a second race is held in Missoula in September. The race is not a timed event, Anderson said, and everybody who finishes it is a winner.
“Ours is more of a fun run to get people out with their friends and have a good time and support a good cause doing it,” she explained.
The party atmosphere can be reflected in the attire that racers wear.
“People dress up in crazy, crazy costumes to do it,” she said.
Anderson is pleased that Great Divide is allowing its ski hill to be used for the race as the mountainous terrain adds a new dimension to a race course and said, “We do want to keep our races unique to the local area.”
Helena is a great place to hold a race because of its proximity to Great Falls, Butte and Bozeman, she said — a sentiment echoed by Patrick Doyle, community outreach director for the Helena Tourism Alliance/
Tourism Business Improvement District.
Racers are anticipated to come from all three of these communities.
“Races like this can bring in 3,000 to 4,000 people,” Anderson said.
While there are no figures on what events like this generate in new dollars for a community, the Lewis and Clark County Fair Board committee is looking at income from events held at the fairgrounds. Using Helena Area Chamber of Commerce figures, which are slightly more conservative than others available on what events generate, the fair committee has said those who come for a small event at the fairgrounds are projected to spend $115 a day while those here for larger events are seen as spending $135.
The race will be more of an event than are many other races, Doyle said, explaining that the hope is to encourage people to remain in Helena longer.
Marketing plans for the Helena Tourism Alliance/
Tourism Business Improvement District will include promoting the race, he said. Marketing efforts already target southern Alberta, which borders Montana.
The race, he continued, would be a way to attract new visitors to Helena.
The payoff for Intermountain will come based on the number of volunteers.
Help is needed on race day to assist with parking and other assignments along the race course, which will be between three and four miles long, as well as to pick up early registration packets from Bob Ward & Sons. The sporting goods retailer is the primary sponsor for the race, Anderson said.
The race will make a donation to Intermountain based on the number of volunteers, she said.
“We are doing everything we can to keep all of the money local,” Anderson added.
The race course will include areas that are dry and others laden with mud. Obstacles will be set up that will require racers to either go over them or under them. Racers can walk around them if they don’t feel comfortable with the obstacle.
“It’s pretty fun to watch the people go through events like this,” she said.
Being able to play in mud — “I think your whole life you’ve been told to stay out of the mud” — is liberating.
A post-race party is planned and plans call for live music at the end in keeping with the concept of making it a day-long event.
Early registration through March 31 is $35 while registration after that is $50. Registration, and to volunteer to help, can be accomplished on the organization’s website, montanamucker.com.
At the conclusion of the race, a shortened course will be available for children ages 6 to 12. Registration for these children is $10.