Gary Hellenga

Club Member Since 4/13/2000

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Gary Hellenga

City: Bozeman State: MT

Favorite Shoe: Varies each year :( Size: 8-9

Age: 57 years old

Marital Status: Married to another IC'er (Lynn)

Family members:
Alex, 15 (the original "Incline Baby"!), and Braeden, 12.

What I do for work:
Whatever I want ... or not! (I am now a RETIRED software engineer)

Places I’ve called home and why I like where I am now:
Oh so many! We are currently back home in Bozeman, Montana - at least for the time being! In the past, we've resided in Australia, New Zealand, and, of course, Colorado Springs and Bozeman. Personally, I've called South Carolina, Japan, Okinawa, Idaho, Germany, Texas, Montana, California, and Colorado home (I'm a military brat!). I'm glad to now be back "home" in Montana, after a long stint in Colorado! Our family likes doing just about anything outdoors (climbing, running, hiking, camping, snowshoeing, skiing, ice skating, etc.), and the Bozeman area has all this in abundance. We like running with our local running club, the Big Sky Wind Drinkers, and cycling around the state; due to injuries, cycling has replaced running as my main aerobic activity the past several years.

When I started running and what got me started:
I began as a sophomore in high school when one of my climbing/backpacking buddies suggested we run for the cross country team as a way to condition for backpacking. Our team training runs took us through some scenic farming areas in southwestern Germany, as well as a local game preserve.

Running accomplishments: View my Pikes Peak Ascent/Marathon results

What I like about trail/mountain running:
It's an opportunity to combine running with getting out into the natural world, exploring trails, forests, fields, streams, etc. It's a natural thing to do, considering my interests in climbing and backpacking, I guess! I love to get up high to get good views of mountain scenery, and like to mix in a little exploring or rock scrambling with a run, if I get a chance!

Favorite running trail and why:
Just about any trail in Yellowstone National Park, where I worked a couple of summers and was a frequent visitor while in college. I loved the available scenery (lots of waterfalls and wildlife), not to mention the adrenaline rush you get knowing you could turn a corner in the trail and come face-to-face with a grizzly or a bull moose! Running the Specimen Ridge Trail has allowed me to see bison, elk, moose, antelope, and bear - and was where I heard my first wolf howls!

Locally, my favorite used to be the trail around Rampart Reservoir; I'd often go there after work on a summer day and run from the Rainbow trailhead to a large rock outcrop on the edge of the lake, dive into the water and swim a little, then pull back on the shorts and run back. Now, though, the trail sees too much traffic (very popular with mountain bikers), so I think my current favorite is the Waldo Canyon Loop - it's not too long or too steep, and not quite as busy as the Barr Trail. And you get a lot of long-distance, scenic views along the way.

Favorite trail/mountain race and why:
Probably the Imogene Pass Run from Ouray to Telluride. This area is incredibly scenic, the course is challenging but not as steep as the Ascent, and it's all downhill to the finish! The weather usually is also very suitable for me, often snowing at the top of the Pass - I'm definitely NOT a hot-weather runner!

Worst running experience:
In October 1998, Lynn and I flew to Victoria, BC for the Royal Victoria Marathon, my sixth. I'd gotten sick about
two weeks before, but still thought I had a shot at a sub-3:00 race. But from the start, I felt something
was wrong - I didn't feel bad, but I was not running the pace I expected. I didn't even catch Lynn until about
mile 8, and I felt out of gas at the half-way mark. By 15 miles, I had to start walking. I'd have probably
dropped out if there were a shortcut back to the finish line, but it was just as quick to finish the course. I
alternated jogging and walking the rest of the way. Since then, I've experienced prolonged bouts with symptoms
similar to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and have never been able to train regularly. Prior to this, I'd
never run slower than 20 minutes for a 5K; since then, I've not finished under 20 minutes. Training has
become risky, as a single hard workout can lead immediately to being sick for a week or so. Racing
results have been abysmal, so I don't do it much any more. But I still try to get out and enjoy running
without killing myself over it!

Neatest thing found on a run:
My wife! (Many IC'ers mistakenly think Lynn and I met thru the Incline Club - not true! We met at the Pikes Peak Road Runners' Garden of the Gods training runs in Spring, 1997, but I think we think of the Incline Club as our "first family").

Running related bathroom stop story:
While working one summer as a research assistant in upstate New York, I went for a trail run in the Adirondacks. When I finished, I needed to use the outhouse at the trailhead. When I dropped my shorts to sit over the hole, I put my car keys in my shorts, not wanting to put them in the piles of spiderwebs around the edges of the outhouse. When I was done, I forgot the keys were in there, and as I pulled up my shorts, the keys fell out and down the hole! I had no spare key, so knew I had to go after them, even if it meant climbing down into the hole (it was DEEP!). Luckily, I found that they'd fallen onto a ledge of the wooden structure, just a foot or so below the opening, and I didn't need to climb into the hole after all! But I've been much more careful about my keys since this incident!

Running pet peeves:
Dog owners who don't control their dogs adequately, especially in wilderness areas where their dogs disturb the wildlife and their owners ignore the leash laws.

Other hobbies and interests:
In addition to those previously listed (climbing, backpacking, etc.) - hockey, soccer, visiting hot springs, travel, games of strategy (chess, military campaign reenactment games), writing, and being a Dad (not necessarily in that order).

Page last modified: 7/18/2015


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