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Column: Families follow Indian athletes in Montana

"For the strong of heart willing to push themselves to the point of exhaustion, Saturday's all-class state cross country meet in Missoula was a colorful celebration.

The playing field was refreshingly level. No advantages for the privileged who attend elite camps and compete on travel teams. No tangible evidence one pair of shoes works better than another.

In the words of Hardin runner Fred Alden IV, the annual running showcase favors only those who “can go 'til their guts come out.” It's also a day of diversity, where athletes like Alden embrace their heritage. For many of Montana's Native Americans, prep cross country is a passion. Families turn out en masse for the state meet with spirit so strong it spills over.

“Even if they're not related, we still follow 'em,” said George Reed, a proud Hardin grandparent and member of the Crow tribe."

Get the Story:
BILL SPELTZ: Montana's Natives embrace long race (The Missoulian 10/26)