- 3 miles/5K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, Virtual Race
- Road Race
- Event Website
This review will merge the Beer Run, 5k, and Marathon, as I completed the Big 3 Challenge and don't want to be redundant in my reviews.
Missoula is 1100 miles from home, but it was part of a larger trip. Travel is so important to me because I find that the more I learn about other people, other cultures, the more I understand perspective and what unifies us. I had visited Montana in the past, but only to see Glacier National Park. So, this time, I spent time in Yellowstone National Park, and again I was not disappointed. It was amazing; between bison, elk, and hydrothermal vents, it is always something special. I cannot recommend a trip here enough. If you are lucky, you will see wolves on the prowl or a beaver in the river.
Missoula is just a few hours from Yellowstone, and a few hours from Glacier. It is a massive converging of five valleys, and so the views are unparalleled. It is also the home to the Univ of Montana. The city is quite progressive in its social values, yet the buildings and infrastructure remind one of the traditions of the city.
There are countless bridges from which one can fish one of the rivers. Many people raft or wakeboard down the river, yet it is far from crowded. Nights are cool, yet days are warm. The sun doesn't set at this time of year until nearly 10pm, and it rises around 6am, yet it is light out long before.
At any rate, the beer run is free and open to all. It takes place during 5k packet pickup. It is a 3-mile course, and it was beautiful. I took photos of a deer drinking from the river a mere 15 feet away. The next morning is the 5k, and this year it featured Mike Wardian. Parking was easy on the streets, and at the end there was a massive farmer's market... it was an awesome treat.
Unfortunately, one must spend time at the expo again to pick up their half or full bib. While it went quickly for me (I was a male, finished the 5k in under 30 min, and running the full), there was a really long line for the women's half bib pickup. I understand the race management wanting us all to have to visit the expo again, but this made little sense for the runners. Both bibs should be able to be picked up at the same time, as we already ad to visit the expo the second day because it is at the finish line. I would encourage the director to either offer both pickups Friday, or to offer more volunteers for the women's half pickup.
For marathon day, parking at the stadium was easy if one arrived early as directed. There was also parking at the finish line, and it was all free. The start and finish were less than a mile apart, so wither way, it wasn't a burden (they did offer shuttles from finish to the stadium). I boarded the bus and was off to the start line. Fireworks were lit, and we organizes ourselves based on pacer time. It was very well organized and there were plenty of restrooms, etc. The first several miles were along farmland, and we watched the sun rise over mountains that made many of us stop for a photo.
Then, we ran along foothills that provided beautiful river views along with old growth forest. I had to pause to take it all in, even though I knew the cool temperatures were slipping away. Missoula was in the midst of record heat (highs of 101), but the morning was still in the 60's. Eventually, the course met up with the half course, and we began running through neighborhoods. I don't believe I've ever seen more charming homes. The residents of the city really make this part special. It is warm, and while there are water stations every couple of miles, it was the kind of heat that just zaps the energy from a runner. Here's where the residents were so special; scores of them put their sprinklers out for runners to run through and many even set up their own water and food stations. I was offered popsicles, oranges, even beer! Another guy had a truck of ice bags and he was dropping them off and offering ice to runners. This was everything one could have asked for when the body breaks down and the mind starts to think it can't be completed. Thank you, Missoula!
The finish line festival was not far from the actual finish, and there was some small bits of quinoa, 1/4 banana, cheese, and watermelon offered to runners. Again, one had to visit the expo to pick up the Big 3 challenge medal or partake in the food.
I got my extra medal and headed back to my car about a mile away. Again, they offered a shuttle, but after 26 miles, what's one more. I really enjoyed my time in Missoula, and I know next time I will want to fish. I loved the people, the shops, the restaurants, and the views. I highly encourage a racecation here and a visit to two national parks, especially as the glaciers are nearly gone from Glacier National Park... time is of the essence. Happy running!