People who take on Bozeman’s iconic Bridger Ridge Run are more than just running — they’re hopping, skipping, leaping, balancing and more, according to race director David Summerfield.

“You’re up there doing really incredible gymnastics to get over all the rocks,” he said. “And the terrain is really so challenging.”

Bozeman held the 35th annual Bridger Ridge Run on Saturday, with about 250 participants tackling the 19.90-mile race and crossing the finish line at the “M” trail. Summerfield said runners from a wide array of backgrounds take part in the race, from cancer survivors to combat veterans to people with prosthetic legs.

Run organizers require runners to write a short essay in their application about why they want to compete in the race, and they get all kinds of answers.

Some people say it’s because they feel like they have to do the run to be a true Bozemanite, he said. With the race also being a bit of a social event, he’s heard of a handful of couples in recent years who have met at the run and later gotten married.

For many, the race is also a way to help deal with pain and trauma.

“It’s a way to get away from it all and deal with all the issues you’re trying to deal with in your life,” he said.

For Grayson Murphy, a 24-year-old professional runner who took second place in the women’s division, trail running is an adventure and a mental challenge. She tends to do more road races, and the Ridge was her second trail-running race.

Seeing the sunrise at Fairy Lake at the start of the race was definitely a highlight, she said.

“I’ve never been on a ridge like that before,” she said.

From Salt Lake City, she’s had lots of time to practice in the mountains, though. She was in first place for women for much of the race and was initially disappointed she didn’t win because she took the longer, slower route down the mountain at the “M.” But she was happy that she and the women’s first-place winner, Kristina Trygstad-Saari, both set course records for women. Emily Allison was the third woman to finish.

The top male runners were David Ayala in first place, followed by Renn Meuwissen and Mike Lavery.

For six-time Ridge runner Sam Maschino, running the race is always exciting, and the crowd is fun. For people from Bozeman, it’s a “check-list thing.”

And the endorphin rush afterward isn’t bad, either.

“Life is good; no complaints,” he said. “Time to drink some beer.”

Abby Lynes can be reached at alynes@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2651. Follow her on Twitter @Abby_Lynes.

Abby Lynes covers business and the economy for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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