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Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Grayson Murphy won first place in the women's division of the 2019 Bridger Ridge Run. Murphy won second place. Kristina Trygstad-Saari won first place, setting the women's course record at 3 hours, 40 minutes and 37 seconds.

Runners participating in the 27th annual Jim Bridger Trail Run Saturday morning spread out and laced up beneath gray skies at the Sypes Canyon Trailhead.

Groups from 15 to 40 runners left the starting line every 20 minutes from 8 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. Organizers adopted the wave system to limit gatherings amid COVID-19.

Max Littlefield, the race announcer, played “Eye of the Tiger” as each wave of runners set off. “We have some really competitive runners in wave two,” he said.

Grayson Murphy, the 2019 USA Track and Field world mountain running champion and the 2019 XTERRA trail run world champion, was one of those competitors. “I see you BSF boys shaking your knees over there,” Littlefield said through a megaphone.

At one 1 hour, 19 minutes and 32 seconds, Murphy won first place among the women and second place overall. Her time beat last year’s overall winning time by three seconds. At one hour, 18 minutes and 46 seconds, Jason Donald won first place among the men and first place overall.

The 10-mile Jim Bridger Trail Run winds through private land and along the Middle Cottonwood, Bridger Foothills and Sypes Canyon trails. Runners gain more than 2,000 feet of elevation.

Unlike past years, half of the proceeds from this year’s race will be donated to the Bridger Foothills Fire Relief Fund. The other half will go toward the Bridger Ski Foundation Nordic Pro Team.

Greater Gallatin United Way and the One Valley Community Foundation established the relief fund to help first-responders and evacuees impacted by the Bridger Foothills fire. The blaze ravaged more than 8,000 acres in the Bridgers and Bangtails and destroyed 30 homes.

“It was just a fun run to raise money for wildfire donations,” Murphy said. “It’s a super pretty course.”

Murphy is originally from Salt Lake City, but she moved to Bozeman this June. She had plans to compete in a race in Wisconsin this weekend but decided to “switch it up.”

The Jim Bridger Trail Run is Murphy’s second Bozeman-area race. Last year, she won second place among the women and sixth place overall in the Bridger Ridge Run.

“I like running because it feels like an adventure,” Murphy said. She hopes the relief fund goes toward future fire-prevention methods.

Donald hadn’t planned on running the Jim Bridger Trail Run this year, but some of his commitments fell through because of COVID-19. He signed up for the race Friday night, one hour before online registration closed.

“The fundraiser was the icing on the cake,” Donald said.

With the 2020 Rut in Big Sky and the Bridger Ridge run canceled, Donald had been looking for other options. He often participates in cycling races, but this was his first Jim Bridger Trail Run.

Donald is familiar with all the trails in the area, so the race provided him with the opportunity to get to run the trails fast, he said.

“It’s super rugged, the trails are narrow and the rocks are sharp,” he said. He plans on participating in the race again next year.

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Helena Dore can be reached at or at 582-2628.

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