BOSTON — The 2019 Boston Marathon men’s race had a thrilling, close finish. A little more than 15 minutes behind the winners, a Missoula native set a personal best. Mark Messmer crossed the line in 2 hours, 24 minutes in 42nd place overall, the best finish for a Montanan in the historic race since 2011.
Messmer won the Missoula Marathon last year, where he set his previous top time. The 26-year-old beat that mark by more than three minutes in Boston, and he was even hoping for more before Heartbreak Hill slowed him down.
“Slightly disappointed in my last seven or eight miles, as I fell off my goal pace quite a bit,” said Messmer. “I mean, I’ve really only done a few Montana races. Being at (sea level) there and having what I thought would be a really big group of guys around to push throughout the whole race, I figured maybe a 2:20 or so would be possible.”
It’s a pretty impressive story considering the rest of Messmer’s running career. A ton of hard work has pushed the former Missoula Sentinel Spartan and Montana Grizzly to a much higher level.
“Maybe above average in high school and probably below average for a (Division I) runner,” Messmer said with a laugh when asked about his ability as a younger runner. “Overall it’s pretty cool to see myself continue to improve as I get older. I joke now that I have old-man strength going for me. I haven’t taken a day off in several years. I mean, I’ve gotten at least a little bit of a jog in every single day since 2016.”
Messmer tentatively plans to run the Governor’s Cup half-marathon in Helena and then try to defend his Missoula Marathon title in June. He wants to run another big marathon this coming winter and chase the Olympic Trials qualifying time of 2:19.