- 3 miles/5K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, Virtual Race
- Road Race
- Event Website
I've ran many different races over the past 8 years; however, the Missoula Marathon weekend of racing is always my favorite.
The Beer Run on Friday is the kick-off to the race weekend and part of the Big 3 Challenge, which runners receive a special gift for completing the Beer Run, 5K, and either the half or full marathon. It's a wonderful way to ease into a weekend of running and get excited for the two upcoming races. The run starts and ends in Caras Park in downtown Missoula, running along the Clark Fork River and past the University of Montana campus.
This year the 5K was renamed to the Tony Banovich 5K in honor of the beloved race director and Missoula community member who passed in 2020, so it was extra special to run in his memory. The course is similar to the Beer Run, so it's nice to have a preview and comparable warm-up the night prior.
Both the half and full marathon are point to point races, so the organizers provide shuttle service to the start line. At the start line of the half marathon, we were greeted with coffee which is a welcome perk given the chilly temps. There was also a table with other essentials that runners may have forgot, such as petroleum jelly (to prevent chaffing), Kleenex, and sunscreen. To enhance the experience, fireworks are also going off as soon as the race starts at 6am. The first 4 miles of the race weave through stunning woods and along the river with a gentle downhill.
The course then flattens out and runs through the neighborhoods of Missoula before making the final right turn for your moment of glory across the Beartracks Bridge. The finish line is at the end of the bridge and it's a very special experience in that final stretch with the sides of the bridge filled with enthusiastic spectators cheering runners to victory. After crossing the finish line, runners are treated to an awesome medal, post-race food, beer, printed results, and photos in Caras Park. The finish is always a little bittersweet as it marks the end of an amazing weekend in beautiful Missoula.
Did I mention the medals? The Missoula Marathon always has some of the largest, heavy, high-quality medals and this year was no exception. I appreciate how they keep the general design with the elk that has running shoes hanging from its antlers standing in front of the "M". The finisher shirts are also some of my favorites as they are high quality and actually fit really well- it's surprisingly rare to find a "XS" shirt, but Missoula is amazing and offer XS! I wear my Missoula finisher shirts more often than any other races.
Perhaps even more special than the three consecutive days of racing is the amazingly supportive community in Missoula. I have not experienced more warm and passionate crowd support and volunteers than in Missoula. The full and half marathon both start bright and early at 6am, however that doesn't stop the community from coming out with their coffee to cheer us on as we run past their homes and businesses.