Sugar Rush through Hardin

First annual run/walk draws more than 120 against diabetes

Photo by Andrew Turck
            Libby Nedens (far right) runs down the Fair Loop Trail on Saturday morning as part of the five-kilometer run for the Bighorn Valley Health Center’s first annual Sugar Rush. Nedens was the fifth person and first female to cross the finish line with a time of 22:56.95.

Photo by Andrew Turck

Matt Rock of Billings (right) poses with his friend Adam Renshaw, community engagement coordinator with the Bighorn Valley Health Center, after Rock placed first in the Sugar Rush with a time of 19:09.09.

Despite temperatures hanging just below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, more than 120 people donned winter gear Saturday morning, and ran or walked against diabetes at Bighorn Valley Health Center’s first annual Sugar Rush.

Events for the Sugar Rush, which began at the Hardin Depot, included a five-kilometer run (equal to a little more than three miles), a one-mile fun run and a one-mile walk. One hundred seventyseven people were registered, and raised $3,500 for diabetes education and support programs.

Type 2 diabetes – whose symptoms include increased hunger and thirst, fatigue, reduced resistance to infections and darkened skin – occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin, which regulates blood sugar. In the long term, diabetes may cause heart and blood vessel disease, along to damage to one’s eyes, nerves, kidneys, feet, ears and skin.

One way to prevent Type 2 diabetes is to develop a habit of getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, whether it be all at once or spread out into segments.

“We’re so grateful for the turnout, especially on a frigid morning,” said Adam Renshaw, the health center’s community engagement coordinator. “Hopefully, it’s going to turn into an annual thing.”

First across the finish line in the 5K was Matt Rock of Billings with a time of 19:09.09, or six minutes and 11 seconds per mile. A friend of Renshaw’s who normally works building custom homes, Rock enjoys running in marathons and competes in Spartan racing.

“I love the energy an event like this brings out,” he said. “It gets people happy and positive, and I love the feel of everyone getting together.”

Libby Nedens, a freshman at Hardin High School, was the fifth person and first female across the line in the 5K with a time of 22:56.95, or 7 minutes and 24 seconds per mile. Running races is far from an unfamiliar concept to Nedens, who finished third for the Lady Bulldog cross-country team when they took first in Class A state.

She ran the race, Nedens said, “to support the community, and to have a good time with my mom and sister and brother.” In addition, the event doubled as practice for high school track, as she currently runs in the mile and two-mile events.

The event wasn’t just for the quickest, however. Among the final people to finish the one-mile walk was Geraldine Whiteman, who brought her 3-year-old niece Angel Rose along to participate. According to Whiteman, she has diabetes and wants to make sure her daughter doesn’t develop the disease as well.

“I’m proud of us, I’m so proud of us,” Whiteman said happily while her niece played with the balloons that made up the event’s finish line. “She did a whole mile.”

The event also managed to bring people in from outof-state.

Jeff Grigsby of Chicago ran with his wife Robbin in the 5K event, making Montana their 21st stop for such a run. After Grigsby retired from banking, he said, they’ve been working their way across all 50 states in the U.S. In each state, he continued, they have participated in a 5K run or longer.

Grigsby said this road trip is not only a retirement gift for him, but also a fundraiser for breast cancer research; his wife was diagnosed with the disease two years ago. They’ve encountered more difficulties from the weather than expected, as their first six races were run in temperatures similar to that of the Sugar Rush, but they have enjoyed seeing the sights.

“We got to experience the local people and the local restaurants,” he said. “Even seeing the little town of Hardin was kind of fun.”

Conrad “C.J.” Stewart – a former senator for the Crow Tribe and proponent for the treatment of diabetes – attended the event with his family. According to Stewart, he appreciates the work by Bighorn Valley and added that the Crow Reservation would be aided through the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus. This bill increases Indian Health Service funding by 10 percent, from $5 billion to $5.5 billion.

Though the causes are unclear, according to the Office of Minority Health, American Indians are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes when compared to non-Hispanic white people. According to U.S. Census data, Big Horn County’s population is about two-thirds American Indian.

“It’s a really good shot in the arm for this administration to encourage the prevention of diabetes, followup and all the things that are needed in Indian Country,” Stewart said of the bill. As for what event he entered, Stewart added: “I did the fun walk. It was fun.”

Those who want to view Sugar Rush results may go online to For those interested in the Grigsbys’ breast cancer fundraiser – which has raised $1,000 thus far for the Susan K. Komen organization – go online to

Sugar Rush results:

5K Run: Matt Rock (first place – 19:09.09), Chris Fuchs (second place – 19:42.51) and Clement Not Afraid (third place – 21:44.55)

1-Mile Run: Will Nedens (first place – 9:36.86), Curtis Brien (second place – 10:26.41) and Leo Schmaus (10:33.70)


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