Running Through Water
By Katie Thomas
They say John Colter was a fur trapper who was chased naked by a band of Blackfeet Indians near Three Forks, Montana, in the early 1800s. And I don’t think “they” were making it up; according to Montana’s minimal written historical records from that era, the events are well-documented. Colter was part of the Lewis & Clark Expedition of 1804-1806 and was recruited for his superior mountain man skills to help the Corps of Discovery on their journey west, and he returned after the Expedition to continue fur trapping in what is now the Greater Yellowstone area. As the story goes, Mr. Colter and his buddy, John Potts, were in the middle of said fur-trapping one fine day, when they happened upon a group of Blackfeet Indians on the Jefferson River. The Indians demanded that they come ashore, and upon refusing, poor Potts was shot and killed, and Colter was captured and stripped of his weapons and clothes. The Indians told him to run for it, and so he did, ultimately escaping. Either way, leave it to Bozeman to create a race based on the tale, complete with an almost-naked guy leading the way.
The Colter Run happens at Missouri Headwaters State Park every September, and I’ve been wanting to try it for years. One thing though – you have to run through the river at the end…I guess to show your respect for what Colter had to experience. And it’s September in Montana…which means it could be 75 degrees and sunny, or sleeting, or any number of uncomfortable running conditions. My friends and I had a pact: 1, we would only do this race if the weather conditions were sufficiently hospitable, and 2, we would not tell anyone how not-hardcore we were becoming when it came to braving the elements. So, how to dress for this race?
Layers, of course. That’s always a safe assumption in Montana. So layers were worn, and shed them we did, over the 7.5-mile course. But I had an extra secret weapon – Sauce’s Hot Wings, which provide a little extra warmth. From wrist to armpit, these cute, light pieces can easily be taken off mid-run and smooshed into your pocket, or jog bra, or whatever. And, they dry quickly…in case you have to run / trudge through a river. I was grateful to have them as we watched the ice chunks floating down the Jefferson while waiting for the race to start.
And finally, we were extremely grateful that we didn’t have to run this race naked, and that we were not being chased by a band of people with spears, hoping to kill us.
Happy autumn – and from Sauce and KT, go play outside!