MISSOULA — She's arguably the most decorated athlete to ever compete in the Missoula Marathon, and Trisha Drobeck is once again ready to participate in this annual event.
Only this year, it's from an administrative side, as Drobeck is finishing up her first year as race director.
Like many during the COVID-19 pandemic, Drobeck found herself wanting to change course in her career to find more fulfillment in life.
"I feel like I'm a classic COVID cliche. I worked in sales," Drobeck said. "I was a supervisor for inside sales at a manufacturing company in town and I had the opportunity during COVID to work from home, and I got to spend lots of time with my kids, less time commuting, priorities changed, and I think once it was time to go back to work, this position opened and I thought, you know, I want to do something for my community."
So, in a way, Drobeck came home.
She was hired as the executive director of Run Wild Missoula and named the race director of the Missoula Marathon last August. Drobeck was hired after former race director Tony Banovich passed away in October of 2020.
"I've never been shy in probably the dozen times I've run the Missoula Marathon that it is my favorite marathon," Drobeck said. "So it was kind of a no-brainer. I've been a club member for almost 15 years and I credit Run Wild Missoula for a lot of my running success because they provided me a space to grow and mature as an athlete."
In this new role, it was an opportunity to make a difference in the community she loves.
"I really started to get involved in social issues, social injustice issues and I thought what a better way for myself to make a difference in my community," Drobeck added. "And also set an example for my children then jumping in all the way and switching to a non-profit and working with community members and strengthening community partnerships through running."
Drobeck is a four-time Missoula Marathon winner and holds the three fastest times ever recorded in the women's full marathon, including the record in 2015 of two hours, 46 minutes and 54 seconds.
This year, a new record could happen, just from someone else instead.
"But as far as course records go, my days are over with that," Drobeck said. "I am excited to bring in some stellar athletes with our elite coordinators and get those records broken because they're made to get broken."
And as for seeing her out on the course at all?
"People are asking me personally, 'Oh are you running this year since you're the race director?' And I'm like no, there's no way I'm going to be able to run," Drobeck added with a laugh. "I'm going to be up for like 48 hours not sleeping so it's a different kind of race."