This is part of a series of posts from my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Montana was my 22nd state.
Ah, Missoula, Montana. I have fond memories of you. The Missoula Marathon and Half Marathon is in July every year, which means while much of the US is sweltering, it is quite comfortable there. I have to admit, I broke a cardinal rule of running races for this race in Missoula.
I had only brought shorts (no pants) with me for this race but a cold front suddenly came in and they were predicting temps in the low 40’s the morning of the race, which was too cold for shorts for me. I found a local running store and bought the last pair of running capris they had in stock, which a kind sales lady dug out from the back store room. The race was the next day so I had never worn these before let alone run in them, but it was either that or freeze my buns off. Everyone tells you to never wear anything you’ve never run in at least once during a race, and I had always followed this to the letter. However, buying those capris turned out to be a good decision and I was glad I had the extra coverage to help keep me warm.
From this race forward, I always make sure I pack running pants, shorts, capris, short- sleeve tops, and long-sleeve tops for every race, no matter where because as I learned here, the weather can be very unpredictable. I know some of you may be thinking, “40 degrees is actually quite nice for a race,” but I live in the south, and we don’t see temperatures that low until winter is nearing or in full force; certainly not in July. I just wasn’t used to running in temperatures that low.
The Missoula Half Marathon of 2011 was one of my favorite half marathons ever for the scenery, the people, and the course. This race does have a 6 am start so if you’re not an early morning person, that could be an issue. I think it helps with the temperatures, though. At the start it’s usually around mid 50’s (although as I said for me it was only in the low 40’s) and up to the high 70’s around noon. The course is very scenic and fairly flat, taking you though the countryside, along a river, and finishing in downtown Missoula.
There are a couple of bonuses included with this race. The renowned Olympian runner Jeff Galloway began a partnership with Run Wild Missoula in January 2011 to promote the Missoula Marathon and Half Marathon. Every year since then he has given numerous talks, hikes, and even a 3 hour running school the weekend of the Missoula Marathon. Another bonus is you get a free race day victory stand photo (printed out for you) at the Sunday Expo at the Caras Park Pavilion as well as a link after the race to download an on-course photo free of charge.
There were plenty of food and drinks at the finish, including some local beer. My finisher medal was hefty and colorful and also matched the shirt I received at packet pickup before the race. Although I was still struggling with my speed while I was training for this race due to my recent bout with anemia (see my post on Oklahoma-21st state for the full story), I thoroughly enjoyed this race and was happy with my finish time of 2:16:53.
After the race, my family and I went to Glacier National Park and from there to Banff National Park in Canada. I highly recommend both parks, in addition to Missoula. The mountains and lakes are absolutely stunning and these are some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. This race is a nice opportunity to make it into a racecation.