For a run and bike that will take you through unforgettable scenery and some of the country's most dramatic natural landscapes, there are probably few races that can surpass Montana's Basin Wellness Center Bull Run & Bike Half Marathon which unfolds along maintained gravel mountain roads through the region known as Judith Basin and the Little Belt Mountains here in the middle of the state.
The race starts along Highway 119, where Running Wolf Road and Woodhurst Road meet, and continues on along the same route all the way to the finish line at the Stanford City Park in the small town of Stanford, which is home to a few hundred residents and will no doubt remind visitors of what the West is supposed to look like.
From the starting line for the individual half marathon -- which shares the same starting line and time as the relay race -- runners then head northeast toward Stanford, along a route that really unfolds mostly downhill for the half's 13.1 miles all the way to the finish line.
That will no doubt give plenty of runner’s and biker's time to take in the gorgeous views of the mountains, valleys and majestic buttes they'll run past on the way down from the mountains into town.
The race also takes runners and bikers through what locals and tourism officials here call "Russell Country," named for the famed painter Charles Russell who lived in Stanford in the late 1800's.
The town and the surrounding countryside served as inspiration for many of his paintings and drawings, including his legendary painting "In Without Knocking," which depicts a band of cowboys riding their horses in the front door of Hoffman's Saloon and was based on scenes Russell saw every day in Stanford then.
The race also is timed to coincide with a weekend full of events that commemorate Russell's life and work, including the CMR Stampede Rodeo, Western BBQ, Stampede Music Fest, Mutton Bustin', and the Quick Finish Art & Auction, in which artists compete to finish their painting, sculpture or other artwork and then enter it in a live auction.