Okay - so my love fest with Missoula running is going to continue into this post. But, I can't help it. That's what happens in the afterglow of an event like last weekend's Missoula Marathon.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - it is perhaps the best overall running event (dare I say festival) in Montana. It's a 3-day celebration of running. With the Run Wild Missoula Beer Run and packet pick up on Friday evening; the Missoula 5K and Kid's Marathon on Saturday moning; the expo on Saturday; and, the main event (full and half marathons) on Sunday - there's some level of running event for anyone and everyone.
Run Wild Missoula and the marathon race committee do an outstanding job of putting the race logistics together. The Missoula community get's solidly behind the event. And, when you combine in all of the local markets and weekend community events - you get a weekend full of energy, excitement and a "buzz about town" that is unmatched in the region. Trust me - it's an event that is well worth puttig on you calendar.
And, on top of that, there's the little matter of the races themselves. Top to bottom, the marathon and half marathon have developed into highly competitive races with excellent fields. (And, with an enhanced focus on the Missoula 5K, I expect that event to grow and become even better in the next couple of years.)
In the half marathon, high schooler Chiara Warner (Townsend/Broadwater HS) was a suprise at the front with her 1:21:59 win. While a talented and accomplished HS runner, there was nothign to suggest her ability to step up to the 13.1 distance and beat some accomplished runners like defending champ Emily Schertzer, Meg Lerch and Brooke Andrus.
For the men, Matt Shyrock of Missoula jsut snuck under Casey Jermyn's course record as he pulled of a sub-1:10 finish with a winning time of 69:51. A sub-70 Half is pretty impressive; and, it gave him an 80 second win and took the scalps of runners such as pre-reace favorites Devin Cowan, Jacob Naegeli and Adam Peterman. In all there were 5 total men under 1:15. Not a bad race.
At the full distance, the pre-race favorites were Jimmy Grant and Collin Fehr - and they lived up to the billing. Both were looking for performances in the 2:30 or under range. Collin took things out hard with a 1:14 opening half, opening a 2 minute + lead on Jimmy. Race reports later had that lead up to about 3 minutes. But, over the last 10 miles, Jimmy slowly chewed into the lead. But, in the end, Collin held on for a 44 second win, 2:32:38 to 2:33:22. Pretty competetive racing over a full 26 miles.
On the women's side, it was all Trisha all the way. Running under her newly married name of Drobek (nee Miller), Trisha had one of the finest women's performances in recent Montana history. Coming off a sub-2:50 win at this January's PF Chang's Marathon in Tempe/Phoenix, AX, Trisha pulled off her second super fast time in 6 months and smashing the course record with her win at 2:49:33. This gave her a dominating 14 minute win.
All in all a great, exciting weekend in the Garden City. Already looking forward to 2013 and seeing if the race festival can exceed the 6,000 runner mark and improve again on the level of performances. Based on what I've seen over the last couple of years, I'm predicting yes to both of the above.
See you on the roads, tracks and trails.
The Muddy Buzzard