About the farthest I’ve ever managed to run in a day is a 10k (6 miles) race earlier this year, and other than that I’ve been pretty content with 5 miles or less. You can usually catch me in the gym or on the county roads running a 5k fairly regular. For me, running has been about clearing my head and getting away from things for a bit. But in the last few years, running has become more about networking and socializing with those in my community who are not involved with agriculture, but still care about health, fitness, food, and the occasional post-run craft brew.

Team Beef MontanaMontana is full of runners. Every weekend (outside of winter) you can find a 5k, 10k, Half Marathon, and/or Marathon somewhere across Big Sky Country. And we have a big turnout for these events! The Montana Beef Council has taken advantage of this opportunity to reach out to these consumers through the Team Beef Montana program. Essentially, they support runners who are fueled by beef and want to advocate for the ranching and beef communities through these fitness and running events. The Team Beef Montana participants run in events across the state throughout the year, and as funds allow, they’ll receive a Team Beef jersey and for select races, they’ll have the opportunity to get their entry fees reimbursed by the Beef Council. I just picked up my Team Beef Montana jersey and am pretty excited to sport the steak logos in races later this summer!

Each summer, a group of twelve participants from the Team Beef Montana program, who are usually members of our ranching community, travel together for a large running event somewhere out-of-state. This is not only a great opportunity to share a message about beef as a powerful protein as part of a healthy diet, but also an opportunity to share with others a piece of Montana ranching in an inventive and unique manner. Last year, the team participated in the Ragnar Relay Race in Colorado. This year, the team is headed to the Ragnar Relay series event in Napa Valley, California.

The Ragnar Relay series holds events across the country, near larger metropolitan areas. As their website puts it, “You and 11 of your craziest friends pile into two vans and tag team running 200(ish) miles, day and night, relay-style. Only one runner hits the road at a time. Each participant runs three times, with each leg ranging between 3-8 miles and varying in difficulty.” The event in Napa Valley starts in San Francisco, takes the runners across the Golden Gate Bridge and past Napa Valley’s vineyards during harvest season. Over 1,200 people are already signed up on the Facebook Event.

So come September 19 & 20, I will join 11 other runners from the Montana ranching community as a part of “Montana Running Ranchers” as we represent Team Beef Montana and the state’s cattle producers. Not only will this be an outstanding opportunity to see portions of California from a unique perspective, this will also serve as an amazing opportunity to raise awareness of BEEF as a powerful protein source and share the story of Montana’s ranching community on the road with several folks already expressing an interest in healthy lifestyles and food choices.

Now, here’s the part that I’m not so great at… This trip costs quite a bit of money. Entry fees for the team is $1,440. Then we add in plane tickets, van rentals, a couple of nights in a hotel and necessary food, and things start to pile up. But I think it’s for a good cause and am willing to invest in the opportunity and experience. We’ll be able to put a name and a face with the beef that fellow Ragnar Relay participants will hopefully be consuming, be able to answer questions they have about ranching, and they’ll be able to take a piece of that with them as they go to homes across the country. Plus, I think San Francisco is a place with a pretty large demographic that could use a little extra advocacy efforts from the ranching community. So I’m all in for this trip!

But as a team, we are working to raise money to make the event possible for everyone. And to be able to make the largest impact possible during the event. We’re taking generous donations from the community, but we’ll also take a little piece of our supporting ranchers (and businesses) with us during the Ragnar Relay. We’ll have 2, 12-passenger vans along the route and for everyone that donates $50, we’ll put your brand (or logo) on a magnet for the side of the van and for everyone in Napa Valley to see. I think that’s a pretty cool way to take the story of our ranching community (and the story behind our brands) along for the ride.

If you’re willing and able to help us out, donation checks can be sent to Montana Running Ranchers Po Box 267 Harlowton, MT 59036! If you really would love to see your brands on the side of our van, email me (ryan@mtbeef.org) with your brand design information and we’ll get it added. You can be there’ll be plenty of photos to share during and after the event. Of course, if you can’t make a cash donation, we’ll take all the support and well-wishes along the way as well.

Hopefully, this can serve as an inspiration and challenge for you to become engaged in advocacy and find fun, unique ways to share the story of our American ranching (and farming!) communities! Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to work preparing for my run!