By Andi Bourne

Snow Jokers Fill the Streets for 38th Year


Megan Shelmerdine

Seeley Lake seventh grader Sawyer Shelmerdine (middle) participated in his second Snow Joke. "It was very long," said Shelmerdine who thought it seemed longer than last year. " But I enjoyed the view." Shelmerdine shaved two minutes off his time from last year.

SEELEY LAKE – Runners took to the roads around Seeley Lake for the 38th annual Snow Joke Half Marathon. While race participation was down nearly 200 participants this year, Big Sky Orogenic Racing and Events' (BSORE) Race Organizer Matt Gibson felt it was a safer event with the new traffic measures in place and everyone had a lot of fun.

Gibson attributed the lower numbers to the cold, snowy weather in December and January making it difficult for Montanans to train. While the majority of the racers came from Montana, seven other states were represented including Washington, Ohio, California, Vermont, Alaska, Idaho and Colorado.

For the first year in 37 years, there were no lines at packet pick-up. Gibson explained that Competitive Timing came up with a new system for registration. Racers were handed a packet and their number was recorded eliminating the need to hunt for their pre-assigned race packet.

This was also the first year for traffic control on Highway 83. The southbound lane of Highway 83 was closed for the runners with a pilot car shuttling cars in the northbound lane from the start of the race until all racers were off the highway.


"It definitely made for a safer race and that pleased me," said Gibson. "It definitely made for a better experience for the runners."

Gibson said some of the delays in the first half hour of the race were longer than they expected for drivers. One vehicle waited for 35 minutes at the north end of Boy Scout Road.

Gibson said they also did not have as many volunteers as they had hoped to marshal intersections along the closure.

"The traffic plan is a new wrinkle. It was fine for the first time out of the gate and it will work a lot better next year," said Gibson.

Around 40 volunteers from Seeley Lake Elementary, Seeley-Swan Search and Rescue and volunteers from Missoula manned aid stations, helped during registration, on the course, at the start and finish and set up and packed up the race.

This year 778 racers were registered. Finishers included 627 humans and 82 canines.

Thirteen locals represented Seeley Lake and Potomac in the race this year including seven students.

Madeline Swanberg of Ovando shaved off 20 minutes from her time last year coming in second for the Pygmy women.

Local Race Results

Pygmy (Ages 15 and Under)

Females: Madeline Swanberg, Ovando, 2nd, 1:40:27; Zia Kloetzel, 4th, 2:13:18

Males: Wyatt Stout, Seeley Lake, 13th, 1:48:55; Johnnie Stout, Seeley Lake, 14th, 2:02:56; Sawyer Shelmerdine, Seeley Lake, 16th, 2:14:06; Aydin Bayford, Seeley Lake, 17th, 2:27:34; Owen Mercado, Seeley Lake, 18th, 2:27:34

Bushman (Ages 16-39)

Female: Jennifer Barnett, Potomac, 232nd, 2:55:39

Zulu (Ages 40+)

Female: Brie Guilmette, Seeley Lake, 15th, 1:58:34; Felicity Derry, Seeley Lake, 41st, 2:11:18; Marie Barnett, Potomac, 70th, 2:35:54; Linda Schemm, Seeley Lake, 104th, 2:57:06

Males: Loren Rose, Seeley Lake, 16th, 1:46:02

For complete results visit and click on Results.

Andi Bourne, Pathfinder

Seeley Lake's Brie Guilmette finished six minutes faster than her time last year finishing in under two hours. Guilmette finished 15th in her age group.


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