Beef Fuels Montana Ultra-Marathon Runners

by Brett McRae

More than a marathon

The crazy mountain 100 is not just any race, it’s the only official 100-mile ultramarathon in the state of Montana. The race begins near Wilsall and finishes 100 grueling and treacherous miles later, through the crazies, north of the mountain range in Lennep.

For distance and trail runners it’s the ultimate test of your body’s physical and mental capabilities. Wes Harshbarger from Twin Bridges finished the race in around 31 hours.

“Being on your feet for 31 hours straight in the crazy mountains for 100 miles, you know the mental bearing that It has on your body is just crazy, and its unbelievable what your body can go through.”

Wes Harshbarger finishes the Crazy Mountain 100 Ultra-Marathon

Jaden Bienvenue from Molt also finished the race, held now for the second year at the end of July.

“To me there’s no better feeling than knowing that on sheer will and manpower alone on your two feet, what you just did is quite the accomplishment in your own head.”

Jaden Bienvenue with the belt buckle that runners earn after finishing the race.

Both runners experienced their fair share of physical pain and adversity during the 100-mile ultramarathon, but Wes says that finding the strength to push through was an enlightening experience for himself.

“I did battle with stomach issues quite a bit throughout the majority of the second half of the race that really slowed me down a lot. I took a lot of not only physical things away from it, but mental too, I mean when they say 80 percent mental it’s 90 percent. There’s not a doubt in my mind that people can go so much farther if they just change their mindset, just based off this one experience.”  

Listen to Jaden and Wes’ story on Northern Ag Network On Demand

The crazy mountain 100 is not just for runners hoping to test their body’s limits, it’s also a local and community event made possible through public and private land partnerships. The beginning and end of the race are hosted by the Westling and Berg ranches respectively, giving race participants the opportunity to understand and appreciate the care with which these multigenerational family ranches show for the land. During the 100-mile duration competitors pass through other private and public land in a landscape which holds great spiritual significance for the Crow Tribe.  

Team Beef Montana

Both Jaden Bienvenue and Wes Harshbarger are members of Team Beef Montana, a group of beef-loving fitness enthusiasts supported by the Montana Beef Council and ranchers in the big sky state.

Wes says that beef is a crucial part of his diet, efficiently providing protein for his body to function at a high level during an ultra-marathon.

“Beef in general is a huge source of protein as far as repairing your muscles, building your muscles, and staying injury free. A lot of people take protein shakes and a lot of these supplements, but the whole point of a supplement is to supplement, not to be your main source of fuel. As far as your muscle breakdown and repair, protein is the number one.”

Jaden says that beef is the perfect protein for ultra running, even during a race.

“Ultra-running is a lot of climbing and hiking…it’s not just straight running, you’ve got to have powerful legs to be climbing mountains. I rely heavily on beef as a protein source for all workouts, especially when I’m out on the trail in a race…I sure do love a burger or something when I’m deep into a race.”  

Athletes that are part of Team Beef Montana are committed to living active, healthy lifestyles and are dedicated to serving their community to help others do the same.  

Next Steps

The crazy mountain 100 was Wes’ first 100-mile ultramarathon and he reflects on his journey as he prepares for more distance running.

“I mean the crazy mountain 100 was a huge experience for me, but it’s just been a crazy journey through this last year that I literally went from not a distance runner whatsoever to running 100 miles in exactly a year.”   

Jaden tells me that he’s caught the trail-running-fever and that these long-distance runs are a unique experience that he really enjoys.

“When it’s two in the morning and you’re at mile 78 and running on top of a mountain in the middle of the night, all you can see is these tiny headlamps bouncing around in every single direction. It’s a cool state of euphoria that you never experience anywhere else.”


Northern Ag Network

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x