Elkhorn HURL Tom Mandera
As an extension of my nerdiness and my desire to be prepared, I acquired my amateur radio license in 2008. One of the appealing aspects is the ability to make communications contact in places where the ubiquitous cell phones don’t work – and while Montana has a lot of those places, they happen to coincide with our OHV trails a lot of the time.
One of the organizations that approached our local club was the Helena Ultra Runners League – HURL. For the first few years, I was reluctant to support the runners and hikers, suspecting that they wouldn’t appreciate my sharing the trail with them, and that we’ve probably been on opposite sides of some issues from time to time.
One of the things the amateur radio club does in the name of disaster preparedness (emergency drills) is assist some other community organizations with communications.
Eventually I relented and took part. HURL puts on cross-country foot races through the Elkhorn mountains south of Helena, the longest is a 50 mile event. Many of the aid stations where radio operators are desired are difficult to access – most require an overnight (or two) stay and hiking in a couple of miles – at least partly because of the success of road and area closures in that part of the Forest that prohibit motorized access.
When the Governor’s Cup holds a half-marathon foot race, they contact the amateur radio club to provide communications to track the lead and tail runners, and relay any issues from along the course.
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