Under the Radar Races: Crazy Mountain 100 Mile

AJW takes a look at the Crazy Mountain 100 Mile in Montana as part of a series celebrating under the radar races.

By on April 12, 2024 | Comments

AJW's Taproom[Author’s Note: This article is the fourth in an 11-part series in AJW’s Taproom celebrating under-the-radar races.]

The Crazy Mountain 100 Mile will be staged for the third time starting July 26, 2024, in the Crazy Mountains of north central Montana. This rough and rugged mountain race, with a 36-hour cutoff and over 23,000 feet of climbing, has quickly emerged as a bucket-list race for anyone seeking an off-the-grid mountain run that is truly an old-school throwback to the bygone days of hardcore mountain running.

Crazy Mountain 100 Mile - runner and high mountain scenery

Runners in the Crazy Mountain 100 Mile get to experience the stunning landscapes of the “Crazies.” Photo: Crazy Mountain 100 Mile/Anastasia Wilde

Race Director Megan DeHaan and her team have designed a pure point-to-point course that covers much of the Crazy Mountains and traverses four vast parcels of privately owned land. I asked DeHaan what makes her race stand out.

“There are several key reasons the Crazy Mountain 100 Mile is such a unique and special race. First of all, the course itself can only be traversed on race day, in its entirety, thanks to the cooperation and support of the four key landowners/ranches that offer up trespassing rights through their generational lands. Never before has there been a continuous trail system of this magnitude in the Crazy Mountains. Additionally, the race is an example of what can happen when a diverse group of people come together for a common goal. The race is a glimpse into the land stewardship and conservation unique to this region, Native American history, community, and a collective desire to engage folks unfamiliar with the lifestyle of the ‘Wild West’ to show up and experience firsthand, the land.”

It took countless hours of planning and scheming for DeHaan and her team to make the inaugural event a reality.

“It took about two years to create a continuous course route due to the nature of the range. Due to the variety of land ownership checker-boarded across the range, along with public and private access [issues], it turned out to be extremely tricky. Securing not only permission to trespass from landowners, but approval from the Forest [Service] was incredibly challenging but ultimately rewarding.”

Crazy Mountain 100 Mile - ridgeline scenery

The trails of the Crazy Mountain 100 Mile traverse much of the mountain range over public and private land. Photo: Crazy Mountain 100 Mile/Sarah Attar

The 2024 event is limited to 200 starters and, for the first time, has an eight-hour volunteer requirement as part of the entry. The race has filled up every year, and the finishing rates for the first two editions have hovered around 60%.

DeHaan notes that her race, like many other events held in the remote mountains of the American West, strives to maintain the low-key grassroots vibe that is characteristic of the region.

“Our start and finish line are both staged in fields on private land. There is no Wi-Fi, no cell service, no hotels, and no permanent structures. Runners have the option to camp out under the stars or go seek places in nearby towns to rent. We intentionally do not offer lodging, and we do not sell products or provide live streaming services. We strive, in everything we do, to create face-to-face interactions, free from the distractions of our daily lives. [It’s] similar to how we operate as ranchers, where a handshake is better than a written contract.”

Crazy Mountain 100 Mile - race director and crew

Race director Megan DeHaan (second from right) and her crew put on a unique and off-the-grid event. Photo: Crazy Mountain 100 Mile/Anastasia Wilde

While the event is only two years old, DeHaan has already forged a lifetime of memories in the “Crazies,” as the mountain range is locally known. When I asked her to name the highlight of race weekend for her, she didn’t skip a beat.

“My favorite part of race day is watching each runner cross the finish line and offering a hug to those who want one. Knowing full well what they just went through and that they’re that much more resilient as a result. Knowing that it took an entire village, and then some, to put the event on, and getting to hear the stories unfold. That makes it all worthwhile.”

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

Mountains Walking Brewing Company logoThis week’s Beer of the Week comes from Mountains Walking Brewery in Bozeman, Montana. Chopping Wood Doppelbock Lager is a classic, dark Munich-style bock beer that transports one back to the classic beer halls of Bavaria during Oktoberfest. Rich and hearty with an ABV of 8.4%, this classic offering from Mountains Walking certainly packs a punch.

Call for Comments

  • Do you have a favorite grassroots race that you love for its relaxed atmosphere?
  • Do you value races that take you far from civilization and the distractions of modern life?
Crazy Mountain 100 Mile - runner with lake and clouds

A runner grinds up a hill during the Crazy Mountain 100 Mile in Montana. Photo: Crazy Mountain 100 Mile/Anastasia Wilde

Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.