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Joel Sather heads to the finish line of the annual Carl Touchstone Memorial Mississippi Trail 50 Saturday afternoon in Desoto National Forest. Sather won the 50-mile race in a time of 7:02.22.
Photo - Shawn Wansley /

Mississippi Trail 50 volunteer Elmer Beardshall (right) checks on 50-mile winner Joel Sather just seconds after Saturday’s event.
Photo - Shawn Wansley /

Published March 11, 2007 01:09 pm -

Montana runner captures annual MS Trail 50
Joel Sather, a U.S. Forest Service employee, claims 11th annual event

By Shawn Wansley,

Joel Sather came to Mississippi to help fight fires.

What the Noxon, Mont., resident did not plan on was running in and winning the annual Carl Touchstone Memorial Mississippi Trail 50 run in the Desoto National Forest Saturday afternoon.

“Well, I work for the U.S. Forest Service and I came down here to help out with prescribed fires and wildfires,” he said moments after completing the Longleaf Horse Trail 50-mile course in 7 hours, two minutes and 22 seconds. “I had been training for a marathon this spring back home in Montana. I called the FMO (Fire Management Officer) at the District Office and he told me about the race.”

Sather, 35, then called race director Dennis Bisnette and signed up to run.

“I’ve only been here a week,” he said.

While the weather Saturday might have been pleasant for most, it was not the best thing in the world for the runners. Temperatures climbed into the upper 70s and caused a few problems for the competitors.

Sather, in fact, had completed his first three loops in just over five hours. The last 12 1/2 mile loop took right at two full hours.

“It’s nice to run a trail through the woods like this,” he said. “But after the third lap it got pretty hot. I’m not used to that being from northwest Montana.

“But it’s a very good course. It was fun. The whole event was very well organized.”

This was only the second 50 mile run for Sather, a University of Montana graduate. He has competed in around a half dozen marathons.

“I ran in high school and in college, I played rugby and drank a bunch of beer,” Sather quipped. “I listened to my mother, got in shape and started running again.”

Sather is unsure about his next run. He plans on being in Mississippi doing his job for the next several weeks.

“I’ll take it easy for the next few weeks,” he said. “Then, we get into the fire season, so it’s hard to train in the fire season. I usually try to run (long distance events) in the spring or in the winter.”

In the 50-mile women’s event, Ann Heaslett from Wisconsin took top honors.

In the 50-kilometer races, Ed Baggett of won the men’s division with a time of 5:05.37 and Kirsten Baggett took the women’s title with a 5:22.25. In the 20-kilometer events, Terry Lawhead of Louisiana was the men’s winner with a 1:25.27 and Karen Trittsuch of Florida took the women’s title in 1:40.29.


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