MISSOULA — The Missoula Marathon hasn't held an in-person event since 2019 due to COVID-19, but at long last, one of the Garden City's largest summer events makes its return this weekend.
First-year race director Trisha Drobeck said the team at Run Wild Missoula began working with various groups to see how this event would function now that it's back to being in person, rather than virtual, as it was the last two years.
"It really was just opening the conversation with different agencies and different groups to see what is this in-person race going to look like in 2022," Drobeck said. "In working with downtown partnership and working with (the Missoula Police Department) and how many police officers can they offer, and the county and what they're willing to give, and parks and rec and what's going to happen with the construction and everything happening in town."
The course this year is almost identical to years past, with a couple of minor changes, but despite ongoing construction, the Bear Tracks Bridge will be where the finish line is once again with the lone lane available.
"We kind of just worked backwards," Drobeck said. "We take what we're given. We were gifted half of that bridge to work with which was amazing being able to still have that finish line for our participants and kind of work backwards from there and rearrange things and make sure everything was in order and make sure the course was correct and certified."
At the end of the day, it was about finding a way to make it work.
"But for the most part, you can't change what's not going to happen so we just take what we can get and just try to make the best of it," Drobeck said.
The full marathon is expected to field 1,000 runners, 2,600 in the half, 1,200 in the 5K and 500 in the kid's race this year, according to Drobeck.
But above all, after two long years, the summertime staple since 2007 is back on course.
"I kind of look at this year as kind of a homecoming for our participants, for our race committee, for our fans, for our volunteers," Drobeck said. "Everybody can just get back to it and remember why the Missoula Marathon is such a signature event in this town."