406 Runner Interview-Kirk Keller and his Continental Divide Running Clinic

In the newest addition to the 406runner interview series we chat with Kirk Keller of Keller Coaching.  Kirk lives in Three Forks, Montana and is both an accomplished athlete and coach.  This week we learned a little about Kirk and his own running highlights as well as the details of his upcoming Continental Divide Running Clinic being offered this summer just outside of Butte.

406running: How long have you been running?

Kirk Keller: I first started running my sophomore year in high school.  Guess I got weary of getting bounced around quite a bit in trying to play football. I had an older sister run crosscountry.  Fall of 1974!

406running: That’s great. By my calculations that is over 30 years. Would you like to share any highlights as a coach or runner over your career?

KK: My High School had a great track program.  I ran lead off leg of the boys 4 X 880 relay team placing 3rd at the Drake Relays against all other Iowa schools – posting a 7:47 (senior year).  That high school record still stands.

In college I really enjoyed cross country, and my senior year I went undefeated during the regular season and set 7 course records.  Earning NAIA All American status was fun too.

Coaching at MSU Bozeman was a real treat as well with so many good athletes.  Just take a look at the top ten lists and see the number of athletes’ with entries from the early/mid eighties. Bill Brists’ (Kalispell) National Championship Jr. XC (qualifying him for the USA National XC Team competing in Europe), Jeff Clem (Red Lodge) earning NCAA All American 3000 Steeple Honors and snapping a lengthy UM XC win streak stand out.  It is so fun to see these athletes with kids of their own competing in HS and moving on to college.

406running: How long have you been coaching?

KK: A combination of D1, High School, Club and now enjoying coaching adults interested in having fun and maximizing their performance – formally about 8 years. Informally?  Too long to count!

406running: Wow, it sounds like you have some great experience. We understand you are now applying that in a weekend long Continental Divide Running Clinic (CDRC) you are offering this summer.  What was your inspiration to create this event?

KK: The idea came about in a post race discussion following the completion of the Wulfman CDT 14k Trail Race.  Tony Banovich, John Herring, and I were standing in the lodge and casting our view across the forests surrounding the facility. We all agreed what an amazing place to pull off a running clinic.

406running: And what is the focus of the CDRC?

KK: To provide runners a chance to learn from experts.  The setting at Homestake Lodge in a clinic atmosphere creates a great opportunity to do just that.  Here is an opportunity to learn about the latest research and best practices.

406running: How many years has the CDRC been offered?

KK: This will be year 2.

406running: What type of terrain will you be running on?

KK: Single track trails.

406running: Does the clinic cater to a certain type of runner?

KK: The CDRC 2012 will be open to any runner who is interested in learning more – and applying what they learn to their training and racing. Hope they want to have some fun too!

406running: I think there are a lot of us who wouldn’t mind an opportunity to learn and have fun at the same time. What kind of facilities can CDRC participants expect to find at Homestake Lodge?

KK: The main lodge really creates a great environment to hold presentations.  Super views – great access to trails. Hot showers – super food!

406running: We understand there will be the guest speakers who will assist in the clinic.  Have you decided who this will be yet?

KK: So far I have locked in Dr. Jim Walker – Sports Sciences Director at  The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (Murray UT), John Zombro, who is Board Certified Orthopedic Physical Therapist (Bozeman), and myself. Trying to recruit another speaker – too early to commit yet!

406running:  In a nutshell, do you have a coaching philosophy you would like to share?

KK: Amidst all the hard work – there has to be a fun factor. Whether it be a combination of training/racing, or running the beautiful trails, we have an abundance of – remove this and you won’t last.  Also – I really enjoy setting others up for success.

406running: Is there anything else you would like to share with folks about yourself or the clinic?

KK: All runners are welcome – from the competitive to recreational runner.  CDRC 2012 will begin following the Wulfman CDT 14k Trail Race Awards and BBQ. You don’t have to run the race – but you are welcome to!

406running:  And, how can people sign up for the clinic?

KK: Contact me via e-mail for clinic brochures. kkeller145k@gmail.com or call me at 406 – 451 – 3017.

406running: Thanks Kirk for this great info. We would like to end this interview with the question we have asked all of our 406 runners to date. Do you have a favorite run or race in Montana?

KK: Favorite run – toss up between; Lake Fork Trail in the Custer National Forest south of Red Lodge, South Cottonwood Trail Gallatin National Forest,  and the “Pig Farm” outside Whitefish.  Race – at this point – the Wulfman CDT 14k Trail Race.  Race officials sweat the small details and it shows.

Thanks so much to Kirk for spending time with us and offering this resource to the 406 running community. 

If you are interested in spending a weekend running the trails near Butte with a highly qualified staff of professionals the Continental Divide Running Clinic may just be for you.

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