Greetings from our President
A Washington, D.C., native, Michael Higgs ’76 is an independent marketing consultant in Eagan, Minnesota, where he lives with his wife, Tamara, and their son, Mike. Their daughter, Kim, attends college in Duluth. Michael has a degree in political science and was a member of Phi Delta Theta. He also was a member of UMAA’s House of Delegates before joining the board of directors.
More than honored, I am privileged to serve as president of the UM Alumni Association. When I stepped onto the tarmac at Johnson Bell Field on a sunny September afternoon thirty-one years ago, I never dreamed I’d be writing a message like this. But I knew then I wanted to belong to Montana, to this University and to all it encompassed. The Alumni Association has strengthened those ties, brought new friendships and connections, and renewed the passion that brought me to UM, site unseen, so long ago. My hope is for that passion to burn in you for the University and the association. As you read through this issue of the Montanan, please give dues-paying membership your serious consideration, if you are not already a dues-payer. Your dues are the lifeblood of the organization, our capabilities, and our future.
UMAA has completed a very solid year. We strengthened our outreach to young alumni, extended our Community Lecture Series program, continued to have the University system heard by the state’s legislators, and stretched ourselves to faraway Malaysia to support and bolster one of our international constituencies. Great things are about to happen with a new alumni Web site that will provide significant benefits to our members.
Keep in mind our desire to hear from you. Let your UMAA board members or House of Delegates representatives know your thoughts. Send us or UMAA an e-mail. We want to keep you interested and we’ll work hard to make your investment of time, treasure, and talent in UMAA worthwhile.
Get Involved…Stay involved
Alumni Director Receives CASE Award
Alumni Director Bill Johnston was honored at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s District VIII conference in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in March with the CASE Distinguished Service Award. Bill, alumni director since 1988, has been active with CASE at both district and international levels, serving as Distinct VIII president-elect and treasurer. As a member of its International Committee on Alumni Relations, Bill was junior and senior chair of the alumni sessions at CASE International Assembly in San Francisco in 2001 and in Chicago in 2002.
On The Run
By Betsy Holmquist
One Saturday last September while many of us took in a garage sale, football game, or raked the yard, twenty-eight-year-old Missoulian Ted Schuster ’98 headed out for a footrace. All that day and night and on into the next while we golfed, put away the lawn furniture, or maybe went for a short hike, Ted was still running—hooked on the extreme sport of ultramarathons. That weekend it was the Bear 100 Mile Endurance Run—17,000 feet of climb in the Wasatch/Bear River Range of the Utah/Idaho border. If he could complete the race in less than thirty hours he’d win the buckle—the grizzly bear buckle. The one he’d missed by two hours and ten minutes the year before. Ultrarunners, like rodeo contestants, compete for specially designed buckles, and this UM alum was after his griz.
Ted’s alarm sounded at 4:55 a.m. He began taping his feet and toes, taking special care around the ankle he’d broken a couple years earlier. His big toes are huge—permanently swollen from the thousands of miles they’ve dug into his running shoes. Blisters are a constant worry. Once, an unchanged sock so coated a blister that his sock became the bandage itself, resulting in a painful removal. He has four pairs of socks ready for this race. Last night he’d trimmed his toenails—two days after their last trimming. Ritual dominates almost every step of the race process.
At six a.m. the runners were off. “I felt great as the race started,” he recalls. At daybreak Ted dropped off his headlamp with his dad, Erv Schuster, a former instructor at UM’s School of Forestry. “Having Dad at a race is a huge deal,” Ted says, then quickly credits his beloved dog, Izzy, who’s also there but cannot take part in the race. “She’s run every training run with me. One of the weirdest parts of a race is that Izzy’s not there at heel.” Ted runs in a baseball cap and wears a fanny pack he’s sure has at least 2,500 miles on it. It holds two bottles of water, electrolyte capsules and a 98-cent poncho, but no power bars or Gatorade. Even at the aid stations, Ted drinks only water.
“At mile 16.4 I wasn’t feeling great. By Beaver Creek (28) I was really hurting.” Stomach problems and the need to “regroup” kept him at the next aid station for fifteen minutes. After about ten more miles, “my body took a turn for the better . . . I started flying . . . passed some [other runners] . . . We all had a nice chunk of miles under our belts.” Ted beat his dad to the aid station at mile 50, waited ten minutes for him to appear, then, “grabbed my headlamp and took off.” Night was on its way.
“Everything was uneventful until the section between miles 66 and 74. This is the section I had had trouble with last year, and it ate me up again this year.” Trail markers can be difficult to spot even during the day and at night runners lose valuable time if they wander off course. Ted counted only twelve glow sticks during this eight-mile stretch. “One could never have too many markers,” he muses, recalling the time he lost the trail at checkpoint 80 in the Cascade Crest 100-miler in Easton, Washington, and never completed the race.
At the 82-mile point he ate some noodles, changed batteries, enjoyed the fire for a few moments, then took off along the ridgeline. With morning light, he shed his tights and went into “full finish mode.” Ted remembers yelling out his race number at the 93-mile mark. He’d have to finish by noon to meet his goal. His body numb, Ted crossed the finish line in twenty-eight hours, 40.34 minutes. The only Montanan in the race, he placed ninth overall. He’d won his grizzly buckle.
When asked why he runs, Ted recalls a losing Little League baseball game he’d pitched many years ago. “I cried when our team shook hands with the winning team, and Dad really yelled at me for crying. In running, every time you cross the finish line, you’re winning an emotional battle with yourself.” Ted doesn’t want to lose those kinds of battles ever again. Chances are he won’t. He is extremely fit. Disciplined. Competitive. In February he ran the Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Run in Huntsville State Park, Texas. Again the only Montanan in the race, he ran it in 22:54.22, twenty-second out of 104 starters.
And then there’s pizza. Ted readily admits he took up distance running so he could keep up his pizza habit. In high school he’d run cross country and played soccer and tennis. At UM, and not engaged in team sports, he needed a calorie-burning activity to balance his pizza intake. Soon he was running marathons and a triathlon; he was hooked. Now when he’s not racing, or training for one, Ted works as a support consultant for Missoula’s Edulog. He also hunts, fishes, cheers on the Atlanta Braves, and enjoys the Missoula scene—especially its pizza.