Indeed, Mother Nature does have a pleasant side, as she proved Sunday afternoon by providing the Electric City with partly cloudy skies, temperatures in the mid-50s, and light winds for the 2022 Ice Breaker Road Race.
And just to remind all of you, April Fools’ Day was three weeks ago.
The races started in front of the Civic Center and finished at the main entrance of Gibson Park, but only those running the 5-mile race got to see both sides of Missouri River as well as the site of the now-demolished Great Northern Roundhouse on Bay Drive.
David Bett, a native of Kenya who lists his home as Pacific Palasades, Calif., was the first to cross the finish line in the five-mile event, hitting the red and blue line on Park Drive and 2nd Street North with a time of 23 minutes, 12 seconds.
“Today, I finished almost,” Bett said with a heavy Kenyan accent. “I’m happy.”
Sam Atkin of Lewiston, Idaho was the runnerup, 27 seconds behind Bett, while Zach Perrin of Bozeman crossed the line in third at 23:57.
The first woman across was Makena Morley, a native of the Flathead Valley (Bigfork) now living in Bozeman. She finished eighth overall at 26:28.
“I’ve never done this race before, but I’ve heard a lot about it,” Morley said.
When told that sometimes the weather is more fun than the race, she replied with a laugh: “I’ve heard that.
“It’s those nice little communities that don’t always get into those bigger races. I do a lot of bigger races, but it’s always nice to come and do some of the more local ones, and see the communities that helped build me as a runner.”
Madison Liechty of Bozeman was the second woman across with a time of 28:32, just five seconds ahead of former CM Russell standout Keely West Baker.
The 3-mile winners actually finished 1-2 overall. Forrest Bouge of Great Falls was first to trip the timer at 12:16.49, but less than three seconds behind Bouge was Nicole Murray of Whitehall, who ran a 12:19.07.
The two finished ahead of Zach Coccoli of Helena (12:19.47) and Keith Olson of California (12:19.57).
A pair of Great Falls women, Katherine Sunwall and Kate Anderson, were second and third behind Murray.
“I feel great,” Murray said. “I love racing. I’m so grateful to be healthy, and it’s a beautiful sunny day. Couldn’t ask for anything better.”