MISSOULA – Another Missoula Marathon has crossed the finish line. The popular event ran for the 13th time on Sunday. But the work to keep it running smoothly lasts all year.
Organizers and volunteers spent much of Monday cleaning up aid stations and sorting race equipment. They will spend several days this week working on tying up the loose ends. Planning for next year’s race will already start in early August.
The Missoula Marathon continues to receive great reviews and high rankings from running publications. But even 13 years in, organizers always look for ways to improve.
“We know what we are doing in the big picture, because we’ve done a lot of it. We know how to set up the finish line. The mechanics we’re really good at,” said race director Tony Banovich. “But when it comes to learning something, we’re always learning something new. We always look for how to do it better. Some of that is internally guided. Just looking for the opportunity for improvements. And some of it is what we get back from our participants. Those add-ons, man, we’ve always got to find those, cause that’s how you stay number one. That’s how you always get better.”
The biggest change for this year’s running also looks like a hit. The first 12 editions of the race all took place in July. But organizers decided to move it up a couple weeks to the end of June, to avoid possible late summer smoky conditions due to wildfires.
And they could not have scripted a better day than Sunday, with perfect weather for a morning run through Missoula. The decision cleared its biggest hurdles, and now it looks like the earlier date will stick.
“We were concerned that it could result in a real reduction in the participation numbers,” admitted Banovich. “And we didn’t see that. So to be level with last year with the date change, I’m ecstatic. It means that making that choice while we know it was good for the long-term of the event, it was not hurting us in the short-term. And when we had a day like we had yesterday. I mean, people are going to say, you have to go in June. It’s the best weather ever. And so, to have that happen on the first year was probably the best luck that we could have.”
The work never really stops for the dedicated Run Wild Missoula crew that organizes the race. The Missoula Marathon site already has a countdown running. It’s only 362 days to next year’s race on June 28th, 2020.