Positive. Inclusive. Runner. Friend to All. One meeting with Darren Bayer and you’ll find his enthusiasm for running, and fellow runners, contagious. “He could easily be one of the most positive people I’ve met,” noted fellow runner, and RWM member, Jamie Swartz.
The Journey. Basketball to Road Running, and Trails.
Proof it’s never too late to start running, Darren laced up his first pair of running shoes and began running at age 41. Today, he finds himself training for ultra marathons on the various trails around Missoula. “It was a friend who encouraged me to try running” said Darren. “He thought the ‘continuous forward motion’ might eliminate the knee pain I experienced from playing basketball.” His friend was right, and Darren started on a new path.
Initially, he ran on pavement and completed his first 10K in the spring of 2012 (Montana Made Run). He graduated to the Missoula Half Marathon that year. Upon completing several half marathons, he knew he wanted to run further but wasn’t sure a marathon (26.2 miles) on pavement was the answer. He signed up for a 2014 Spring Trail Running class led by Jamie Swartz and Jess Zephyrs. “Their enthusiasm and love for the trails was undeniable and I, too, fell in love with trail running.” His next race? The Blue Mountain 30K (18 miles).
“After that race, I stood in the Bitterroot River holding a beer, icing my legs, and called my wife saying ‘I want to go farther.’ ”
Darren’s longest run to date has been the Spokane River Run 50K (April 2016), and he’s currently training for this year’s Blue Mountain 30K and the Seattle Half Marathon in November. He runs 90% of his miles on trails, yet enjoys the convenience pavement provides for the other 10%.
Accompanying Darren on most runs these days is his 3-year old rescue dog, Daisy. She keeps him motivated to hit the trails. “She needs to run,” noted Darren, “and I enjoy having her with me.” It’s not uncommon to see the two of them running Waterworks Hill after work, or tackling a longer route during the weekends such as Sheep Mountain.
Positive. Inclusive. Runner. Friend to All.
Darren’s enthusiasm for running is both obvious and genuine. He loves the sport, the sense of accomplishment that comes from competing in various races, and the people.
Darren recently shared a story about a fellow trail runner from Pittsburg whom he met through the Trail & Ultra Running group on Facebook. She indicated that she was visiting Missoula and seeking advice for accommodations, local trails, etc. Darren helped coordinate a place for her to camp, connected her to fellow trail runners, and even watched her dog during her run. “This is how running should be,” noted Darren.
“He messaged me on Facebook once I posted and offered to help me out. Turns out he is a pillar in the trail running community there. He got me a free place to camp, talked his teenagers into watching Waylon (dog) since I wanted long miles, and then invited me over for coffee before my run. It was funny, because I am not the trust total strangers type yet here I was at a total stranger’s door step about to leave my dog and spend half the day running with the guy’s friends. Well, we had coffee and chatted about the elevation for my run I was doing that day and I quickly realized that him and his family were great people.” — Ambyr Bochmann, Steel City Road Runners.
Locally, Darren is known for bringing people together to run. “Let’s go for a run,” he’s been known to say, or “Let’s do this!” referencing an upcoming running event. He encourages runners of every ability and pace to give trail running a try.
“Trail running is for everyone because you do get to walk…albeit uphill…but you still get to walk. You’re not running the whole time,” he says with sheer passion and a wide grin.
If you haven’t visited the Facebook page, Wild Mountain Runners MT, Darren encourages you to check it out and come join the group on a run.
When Darren isn’t running or working as a Territory Manager for Clear Water Systems, he enjoys spending time with his family, refereeing soccer matches, and working in the garden. “I have been very blessed,” said Darren when speaking about his wife Tami and two Big Sky High School teenage sons Garet (freshman) and Everett (senior). The Bayers moved to Missoula in 1996 from Sonoma, California after his parents relocated to the Bitterroot Valley for retirement.
Following are a few fun running facts about Darren.
Most Memorable Race
Spokane River Run 50K. At mile 27, I caught up with another runner and told him this was the farthest I’d ever run. I asked if I could run with him the rest of the way (we were both struggling) and even asked about crossing the finish line together. We ran the last few miles together, encouraging one another towards the finish line, and crossed within milliseconds of each other. I had read about similar situations on ultra running blogs (runners helping pull other runners through) but had never experienced it myself. It’s just one of the many things I love about trail runners.
Favorite Gel, Energy, etc.?
Favorite Trail Running Shoe(s)? Pavement?
I currently use Brooks Ghost for both.
Pre-race meal and/or routine?
I do not have that figured out yet, but like to be moderate.
Favorite post meal indulgence?
Beer and a nap!
Ever win your age group?
Not even close in this town, but I did get my first “top ten” at the most recent Sentinel Hill Climb.
Ever lose a toenail?
Nope, but they have all been black!
Do you run on trails during the winter?
Absolutely!!! I actually put sheet metal screws in a pair of shoes (thanks Chad Strickland), and they worked GREAT on the packed ice!! Layers and mittens, too!
Finish sentence: If I didn’t run, I’d… be riding a bike.
Finish sentence: I can’t run without… shoes and socks.
Not sure who who said it but, “The hardest part of running is getting out the door.”
If you could meet anyone (past or present, runner or not) who might it be, and why?
Dave Ramsay. He’s been on life’s roller coaster and has succeeded.
Do you know someone from our Run Wild Missoula community that we should get to know better? Nominate them for a future Member Spotlight today!