Monday, April 27, 2009

Missoula Marathon to be Capped at 30,000

Alright it’s true: We don’t have 30,000 runners, nor do we expect 30,000 runners, but we’ll be very pleased when we have 3,000 runners (please notice we’re missing one entire zero here). After all, Missoula Montana is the kind of place you have to really want to get to. We don’t have flights zooming in and out with non-stops all day and night. We’re not particularly close to anything else, unless you call a 3 hour drive to Spokane with two passes “close.” If you go north you have to hit Calgary before you have anything really worth commenting on in regards to size, south it’s Salt Lake City, and east the biggest thing happening is Billings, Montana before traveling for days and eventually staggering into Minneapolis.

Now of course that’s also the appeal. Sure – we’re hard to get to. Just ask Lewis and Clark. They had to consume 7,000 calories a day just to get here. But once they did get here they liked it so much they left a few monuments and named some things, like the Lewis & Clark Taverns and Great Falls. Plus Lewis & Clark noticed – and you will too – that we’ve got hot springs all over the place out here. Very pleasant. You’ll like them. Not to mention Glacier National Park and the grandfather of them all – Yellowstone.

If you like driving, we are a direct line along I-90. If you just ran Boston you can start there and work your way this direction, never wavering far from the big fat I-90 line that ends in Seattle.

So back to our future race cap: our race numbers for the Missoula Half Marathon are more than double at this point, and the Marathon is 1 ½ times more. This does not put us in danger of reaching 30,000 runners yet, but we’re enthusiastic anyway.

Thank you for registering for the Missoula Marathon, Half Marathon, Marathon Relay or Missoula Kids Marathon! We look forward to seeing you this summer!

-Jennifer Straughan

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Brian's Blog: The Neighborhood Dogs Can Smell Your Fear

Last Wednesday, I saw a medium-sized brown dog do a pretty amazing thing. I was somewhere near the middle of the pack as we headed up Greenough Drive. I don’t know what it is about the dogs along that street — if they’re just unaccustomed to pedestrian traffic or what — but you’d think we were all dressed in bacon. They go absolutely nuts. I was coming up on a split-level with a big, green yard. Behind a chain-link fence, two dogs sprinted back and forth, barking like their lives depended on it. I didn’t register the breeds, since I wasn’t paying much attention and have never been real good at it anyway. One of them was white, the other was brown, and both were roughly the size of a piece of carry-on luggage.

Suddenly, the brown dog executed a move that I’ve previously only seen in the Street Fighter II video game, a sort of bouncing leap that brought him briefly into contact with the side of the house before kicking off of it and somersaulting over the seven-foot fence. This happened just as I was passing the yard. And then he was out on the lawn, staring at me at me and my imaginary bacon shorts like a desperate convict who knows his time on the lam will be brief.

I think I said, “Oh shit.” Probably rather loudly, since my iPod’s usually cranked to 11 and I have little concept of the volume of my voice. But it happened right as I passed! I’m the kind of guy who gets excited when a streetlight goes on or off at the exact moment I walk underneath it. I assume, naturally, that the event had something to do with me. So surely there was some reason this dog vaulted the fence just as I came into his sight.

Then I remembered how the wolves in Yellowstone peruse the elk herds at chow time, scanning the whole group before identifying the weakest link, and only then taking off in pursuit. That was it, I thought. I’d skipped running the previous Friday to go to a reading and reception, skipped it Saturday to nurse a hangover, then skipped it Sunday on the pretense that it was Easter (though I actually spent the morning alone in my apartment, drinking coffee and reading magazines). This brown dog knew I’d schlepped off over the weekend, and now he’d picked me out as the weakest link I was about to be culled.

Turns out, though, that the dog was less like an escaped convict and more like a wimpy kid who sneaks off the playground at recess — suddenly liberated, but totally clueless as to how to handle it. The poor pooch just ran back and forth in place, barking at his partner on the other of the fence, oblivious to me and the other runners passing by.

It was a wake-up call all the same, though. A reminder to get back on my game. When the time came for us half-marathoners to peel off from the marathon crowd, I opted to follow the longer route instead. Turns out blending in with the marathoners is kind of easy — you just have to wear a look of steely determination all the time. It’s tough to get it across with an emoticon, but it would be something like: :>| And those extra few miles were just what I needed. I was already feeling more confident as we ran the last mile down Monroe Street, and sure enough, the neighborhood dogs didn’t even look up.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

One Step At A Time

Read Gwen Florio's story in Magazine about Mayor John Engen's weight loss triumph by participating in the Missoula Marathon:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Get the Kids Involved in the Missoula Marathon

Wow - April 1st has come and gone and it's already time to start logging miles for the Missoula Kids Marathon. Registrations are slowly coming in, so if you haven't sent yours in yet, please mail it or drop it by The Runner's Edge. Most area elementary schools are participating by helping kids log miles through running clubs and some teachers are running with their classes. Ask about this at your school.

Remember, you can log miles by running, walking, hiking, swimming, or any continuous physical activity. Fifteen minutes of physical activity equals one mile! Mile tickets are online at the Missoula Marathon website and you can print them off and give them to your coaches to fill in to help you log miles.

Look for the schedule for "Moving with the Mayor" runs at local parks in the Missoula Parks and Recreation brochure recently distributed in The Missoulian. This will be a fun way to meet the mayor, log miles, and get to know your neighborhood park!

Run, Have Fun, Be Healthy!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Brian's Blog: New Habits, Old Friends

Editor's Note: This is the first post of Brian's Blog, by a participant of the Missoula Marathon Running Training Class. Brian will update you on his training until the Missoula Marathon on July 12, 2009.

I’m new to this. Not to running, per se. In fact, some of my earliest memories involve running-- on playgrounds, in department stores, away from the larger boys in middle school. But I’m new to organized running, to running in a strategic fashion that involves calendars and clinics and routes that have actually been planned in advance.

Six or so years ago, I signed up for a 5K fun-run in Minneapolis, a race dedicated to the memory of a recently passed uncle who was a devoted marathon runner. The following year I made a trip to International Falls, Minnesota, to write a magazine article about a 10K that bills itself as the coldest race in the continental US. (It turns out there’s some controversy over that claim, but at -43 degrees on race day in 2005, I gave them the benefit of the doubt.) Thereafter, I started running sporadically and without any real goal. Until signing up for the training class last month, I’ve always thought of running like I think of going to the movies or playing Monopoly—it’s just something to do, and if you do it more than four or five times a month...well, that’s just kind of weird.

It wasn’t until the third time I signed up for a short run that I actually wore shoes. At my uncle’s memorial 5K, I had worn Teva sandals, because they were the only footwear I had that weren’t boots. In International Falls, I wore the boots, because there were twenty-five inches of snow on the ground. Last year, I threw out a beloved pair of four-year-old, second-hand Reeboks on the grounds that, according to my ex-wife, they were both used up and ferociously ugly (for the record, they were neither). I bought a pair of Teva sneakers on eBay because they looked like the sort of thing I could both run in and wear out to dinner. Now I’ve been told it’s a bad idea to wear one’s street shoes during an intensive running program.

Which I don’t get. Training for a marathon (or in my case, a half-marathon) is both profound and personally demanding. And for something like that, you want an old friend by your side, right? Not a new friend. Not some friend who just came out of a box and smells like leather treatment. Buying new running shoes while training for a marathon seems like inviting the new kid to your lunch table right as you’re discussing whether to publicize your crush on Lori McBrier from algebra class. I mean, look buddy, you seem real nice-- and sure, maybe you are a better fit for my gait cycle-- but this is an important conversation, and right now I need to be with people I can trust.

So I guess I’ve got some things to figure out over the next couple months as the training class gets more intensive. What I do know is that I’m really enjoying it, much more than I thought I would. I’m even running the recommended distances on our non-meet-up days, which I had just planned on lying about. I think I’ll tough it out with my old pals the Tevas for the time being, but who knows? If I can learn to love running five days a week, maybe I can be coerced into making some new friends.

Where Do the Missoula Marathon Registration Fees Go?

Those of us associated with the Missoula Marathon are often asked about the registration fee and "where the money goes." I got asked again the other day, and decided to post my reply.

The Missoula Marathon has many causes that it supports. First and foremost, the Missoula Marathon is put on by Run Wild Missoula, the local non-profit 501(c)3 running club, and it is a fundraiser for that organization. The mission statement for Run Wild Missoula is to support walking and running for all ages and abilities, and the Missoula Marathon helps fund much of those efforts. Run Wild Missoula puts on many events for the community where we break even or lose money, and we also create events that are fundraisers for other non-profit organizations. The running club also does community projects, such as posting mile markers along running trails in Missoula. Run Wild Missoula also donates money to Missoula Youth Track, another non-profit organization, and other running related causes such as the Boston Training Group.

Additionally, the Missoula Marathon gives a percentage of the profits back to non-profit organizations that help us out on race day, including HARC the ham radio operators, Red Cross of Montana, Camp Mak-a-Dream and Opportunity Resources. Above and beyond that, we supported Missoula Youth Homes in their efforts to utilize our event as a fundraiser for their non-profit organization. They raised $40,000 last year and are excited about improving upon that this year. We encourage other non-profit organizations to do similar activities with our event.

We are only going into our third year and we have been very relieved and proud that our event has been able to cover its costs and have enough to get us going again the following year. A lot of this is because of the tremendous support this event receives community wide, as it is viewed as a community event -- not a running club event.

When you run the Missoula Marathon, please feel good about everything in this community to which you have just contributed.

Jennifer Straughan
Race Director