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Angie and I recently finished the Missoula Marathon in beautiful Missoula, Montana (Angie’s home state).
This marathon is abundantly picturesque -think mountains, valleys and rivers. Not only that, I found it to be well organized. I heard that this race fills up every year and I can see why. The race caps off at 1,500 full marathoners and 3,500 half marathoners. I would definitely run it again.
Missoula is the second largest city in Montana. It’s a university town . . . a pretty cool place with a strong running community. It has been called Montana’s cultural center.
We stayed in a vacation house in the downtown area offered to us by a very kind family who heard about us through the podcast. We were within walking distance from the finishing line. Thanks Jon & Jill!
My good friend Aubrey Kincaid, from Billings, came to Missoula to run the half-marathon. Whenever our two families get together (and our combined seven children) it can be really loud. Aubrey and I call it “the silly idiot fest.” Luckily, Missoula has many good parks where random acts of loud silliness can be safely carried out. Aubrey ended up finishing his first half marathon in 1:52!
The Race ExpoThe expo was located outside in Caras Park under a giant tent. Angie and I ventured into the throngs while our kids merrily rode the carousel. Packet pickup was extremely easy and the tech race shirt was pretty cool. I didn’t even need to take my timing chip out of the packet in order to activate it.
What’s fun about race expos is seeing swarms of runners. Everyone is smiling. No one is eating donuts. Angie and I started spotting people wearing running shirts from races we have completed (like the 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon). The world of marathon runners is relatively small so if you get around you will see other people who get around. Does this make any sense?
At the expo we met up with Kristi from North Dakota -an Academy member and faithful fan of the podcast. She finished her marathon in 3:44 -a personal best.
The Missoula Marathon is a point to point course. Shuttle buses take you to the starting line. Since the race started at 6:00 a.m. the buses start rolling at 4:15 a.m. This is a lot earlier than I like to get up.
When we got to the starting line in French Town music was playing, port-a-potty doors were swinging and runners were going through their warm up routines. One pleasant surprise that morning was the fireworks at the start of the race. Truly remarkable.
The course was partially closed with a police escort. We basically ran from French Town back to Missoula along smooth country roads. Aid stations were plentiful. At mile 13 we started up a pretty long hill. Near the top, a race photographer was posed to take our picture. I told Angie we needed to make it look like we were running but she wouldn’t cooperate.
It was fun to pass by cozy mountain properties with grazing horses and beautiful views. We fantasize about owning a mountain cabin with acreage. People on horseback rode out to see us run. Lots of people set up their hose so that you could run through the spray. One guy was playing a baby grand piano in his front yard. He was wearing a tux and performing Chariots of Fire.
I ended up taking some walk breaks at each aid station in the later miles. But I determined not to walk the last mile. “Gut it out!” I kept telling myself. My official time was 4:14 and Angie’s time was 4:22.
The Finishing Area
The post race food was great. I had the best watermelon I’ve ever eaten. Watermelon tastes so good after running 26 miles. They also had orange slices, trail mix, pasta salads, frozen fruit bars, cheese sticks, Clif Bars and fig newtons.
As we sat ingesting calories other Marathon Maniacs began to accumulate around us. They were drawn in by the yellow hue of Angie’s Maniac shirt. We met Tom from Hawaii who has run 163 marathons and other colorful people who collect marathons like some people collect pet rocks. Tom has so many medals that he needs two houses to stow them in.
The Missoula Marathon is a really fun race and you should definitely put this one on your short list. I’m glad we were smart enough to get out of the Missouri heat for 3 weeks in July and escape to Big Sky Country.
Vacation pics coming at ya . .