After five years of service, Jennifer Straughan has resigned as the race director for the Missoula Marathon and Half Marathon. Straughan, one of the founding members of the Missoula races, will leave her post at the end of February to focus on her job and family.
Anders Brooker, owner of the specialty running store The Runner’s Edge and coach of the Hellgate High School Cross Country team, has been named as Straughan’s replacement for the 2011 races and will assume his duties as race director on March 1. The Missoula Marathon, Half Marathon and Kids’ Marathon are the flagship races of Run Wild Missoula, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting running and walking in the area.
In resigning, Straughan said she simply does not have enough time to devote to the ever-growing Missoula Marathon. “With the explosion in the Missoula Marathon's growth, the event simply takes far more time to manage than the 20-30 hours a week I currently put into it actively, plus the amount of time I spend thinking and planning,” Straughan wrote in her resignation announcement. “I won't give the Missoula Marathon anything but my best vision and my best effort, and with the success created it takes more time and effort than ever before. There are many exciting irons in the fire but they all need to be executed to their fullest -- not partway -- in order to maintain the Missoula Marathon's status as a nationally acclaimed event.”
Under Straughan’s direction, the Missoula races have continued to grow each year since the inaugural races in 2007. Last year, Runner’s World Magazine named the marathon the “Best Overall Marathon” in the country, prompting a record number of more than 4,500 runners to participate in the races. The marathon, which was recently listed as one of the 10 best marathons for beginners, also pumped more than $1.2 million into the Missoula-area economy, according to a recent study.
Brooker said he intends to continue Straughan’s good work and is looking forward to another record-breaking year. “The hard work, dedication, and passion Jen has brought to the marathon will be greatly missed,” he said. “She was the biggest reason it is one of the best marathons in the country. The Missoula Marathon committee and I will work hard to follow in her footsteps and will keep these races headed in the right direction. We are excited for another amazing race in 2011.”
Jean Zosel, the president of Run Wild Missoula’s Board of Directors, praised Straughan’s hard work and commitment to the races. “Jen has been involved with Run Wild Missoula and the Missoula Marathon since the beginning,” she said. “She is a visionary who was not afraid to dream big. She was able to put together a committee of dedicated runners who helped her achieve those dreams. In four short years, the marathon was voted best in the country and is still growing. We will really miss Jennifer and her boundless energy.”
Zosel added that she wants to assure the community and race sponsors that the races are in good hands with Brooker at the helm. “Anders and Jen will work closely together this month to pass the torch, and we all expect a smooth transition. Anders has been an integral part of the Missoula Marathon since he and Jen started planning the first marathon nearly five years ago. We have high expectations for another great marathon in 2011.”
This year’s race will be on Sunday, July 10. More information is available at www.runwildmissoula.org