Scenic exercise

Aside from jogging on streets and sidewalks around Missoula, a number of Missoulians enjoy the large variety of trails available to hikers, runners, and walkers.

Photo by Nelson Kenter

Missoula Marathon

If you haven’t heard of the Missoula Marathon yet, it’s time to take notice.

After its third year in 2009, the marathon was given a notable honor when it was voted the Best Overall Marathon by the readers of Runner’s World magazine. Of all the 400-plus marathons run each year in the United States, only one gets bragging rights to the title, “No. 1 Best Overall in America.”

In July 2010, the Missoula Marathon celebrated its fourth event by welcoming 4,577 Marathon runners, roughly double the number of participants from the year prior.

The fifth Missoula Marathon took place on July 10, 2011, after the marathon had been named the 2011 Montana Tourism Event of the Year at the annual Montana Governor’s Convention in Helena.

The starting gun for 2012 Missoula Marathon will fire on Sunday, July 8. You can register online on the Missoula Marathon website.

The marathon, which starts in Frenchtown and ends in front of Missoula’s historic Wilma Theater, attracts runners from all 50 states, as well as from Hong Kong, Chile, Columbia, Australia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Canada, and Singapore.

Why the kudos for the Missoula Marathon over more famous races like the Boston or New York City Marathons? Race Director Jennifer Straughan has worked hard to create an extraordinary and unique experience for marathon participants.

Straughan notes that the major U.S. marathons tend to create fairly similar experiences, so the coordinators of the Missoula Marathon wanted to create something that really stood out apart from other marathons.

The Missoula Marathon certainly isn’t short on unique features. Sculpted runner’s legs, each painted by a different artist, serve as the race’s mile markers. And a one-of-a-kind assortment of food provided by the Missoula’s Good Food Store awaits the runners at the finish line.

One of the more popular features, according to Straughan, is the free photographs provided to the runners. She says the Missoula Marathon is one of the only marathons to give runners photos free of charge.

And, of course, there’s Missoula’s outstanding scenic surroundings – something not easily replicated anywhere else.

While all of these features help make the Missoula Marathon a special experience, Straughan believes that the most important key to its success is the Missoula community.

She says the attitude of the community and its willingness to help is what really makes the Missoula Marathon a great experience. “”This award is something every single person in Missoula should be proud of because it takes a community to put on a marathon.” And putting on a marathon, Missoula does very well.