MISSOULA — The Missoula Marathon is one of the most popular events of the summer in Missoula. In 2021, the event was fully virtual once again, but still drew plenty of competition from across the country.
Run Wild Missoula announced back in March the event would be going into a virtual format again, similar to 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Missoula Marathon race director and Run Wild Missoula interim executive director Ashley Cossairt said that over 1,500 people participated in all three races offered in 2021, with representation from over 40 states across the United States. The three races include the marathon, the half marathon and the 5K.
That marked a larger turnout than 2020 when the races were also held virtually.
"People were really excited about the opportunity to still have the virtual option in the Missoula Marathon so you still get the swag, you still have the camaraderie of your virtual participants and overall it was a really exciting event," Cossairt said.
The month of June was held as "Missoula Marathon Month" since the Missoula Marathon was originally scheduled to happen on June 27.
Contestants were encouraged to run and submit their times in the month of June. With it being fully virtual however, some were able to complete their runs in earlier months and could submit it that way too.
To see full reported results from the races, click here.
It was also the first Missoula Marathon held since the passing of former race director Tony Banovich, who died last October.
"We actually got a lot of positive feedback," Cossairt said about this year's events. "They love the T-shirts which we always get great feedback on. The medals of course had our signature elk on it and then the extra touches of the local stuff was a nice addition to not being able to be in person and then we also highlighted remembering Tony, our former race director, in a couple ways which was really special."
"We heard a lot of really special stories about how this race virtually memorialized Tony for a lot of our participants, especially locally, who had that close connection to him," she continued. "It was tough not having him around but to know that he's still living really strong in all of our hearts here is really special."
When the Missoula Marathon was announced to be fully virtual in 2021, those who participated or donated their registration funds will receive discounted rates for registration in 2022.
In 2019, over 6,000 competitors competed in race weekend, the last time the event was held in person. Now, Run Wild Missoula looks toward 2022 with the plan to return to the normal format of the race. Next year's events will be June 24-26.
"So we’re already starting to think about 2022," Cossairt said. "The plan is that we’ll be at the finish line in front of the Wilma, have all of our in-person, fun activities, the expo, all of that stuff, and planning starts today."