Run Wild Missoula Creates Running Friendships

By EVA DUNN-FROEBIG

I witnessed a friendship influenced by running a few weeks ago at the Run Wild Missoula Trail Running Class — all because I was late.

I am chronically late. As hard as I try I am usually a few minutes late for everything. That was the case a few weeks ago when I arrived at Momentum Athletic Training for the Run Wild Missoula Trail Running Class. After racing across town to drop my son off at his dad’s house, I arrived at Momentum 10 minutes early—so I thought. I was pleased with myself until I looked around and didn’t see anyone I recognized dressed in their usual Saucony shorts and the latest trail running shoes, holding a water bottle in their hands.

Kiefer, one of the owners of Momentum, looked at me with a little pity and passed on the message that class was meeting at the main Rattlesnake Trailhead, at least a 15 minute drive. “They’ll probably start a few minutes late,” he said with some sympathy in his voice. I growled to myself I as frantically dodged potholes on Rattlesnake Drive knowing that Rhea, the other owner of Momentum and the instructor of the class, likes to start on time.

The class had already left by the time I arrived, but one woman from class was waiting for her friend in the parking lot. “Can I run with you two?” I asked. When her friend arrived and we started running three abreast down the wide trail I felt like a third wheel on a date. They asked each other questions that only close friends would. They knew about little details in each other’s lives like problems at work, whether or not their kids won a recent soccer game and where they went for lunch that day. I dropped back a little, pretending not to eavesdrop.

I remembered that the two women were also in the Trail Running Class offered in the fall. As the trail turned single track and we headed into the mountains I started to feel more comfortable chiming in on their conversation. I learned that their friendship had actually been conceived in the Trail Running Class in thefall.

They said they had both joined the class partially to meet other runners and found that they were the same pace. On the last class in the fall they started talking about their next race and decided to run the Las Vegas Half Marathon together in December. Now they run local races together and meet several times a week to train.

They spend hours together each week, sharing details of their lives while they gain enough endurance and strength to run the Missoula Marathon. And endurance and strength they had: I could barely keep up with them as their calf muscles flexed and they hit the trails hard, running uphill and maintaining a conversation without a pause for breath. I felt a little dizzy from the uphill running—and amazed.

I couldn’t believe that these two women, as close as they were, had met just eight months earlier in a training class. But it makes sense, and it happens all of the time. Running connects people. Runners spend infinite time together becoming fit, enduring pain, acting as each other’s therapists, witnessing depletion, and not-so-pretty moments. They make the hours of running go by faster by talking.

After a two or three hour run, running partners know more about each other than their spouses know (unless the running partner is a spouse). Running partners only have to have one thing in common — running. They can range in age and gender, profession, and interests. Everyone is equal when it comes to running.

The two women I met that day on the Rattlesnake trail blew me away—because of their fitness levels and the way they found the friendships they sought through running.

I look forward to seeing them on the trails and kicking butt in upcoming races. I’ll also try not to be late for the next Run Wild Missoula training run so they can catch up on their day without me listening in on their conversation.

Like this blog?  Chances are you’d like these posts from our running blogFollow Your Dreams or  “Penguins” Adult Onset Athletes Who Run Slowly.  Or, check out our Missoula Running and Walking page or Missoula Outdoor Recreation section.

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Eva Dunn-Froebig is the executive director of Run Wild Missoula and has been running since the seventh grade. She moved to Missoula 12 years ago from upstate New York to attend the University of Montana’s Journalism School graduate program. Eva never dreamed that she would have a running-related job and feels lucky to be a participant in Missoula’s vibrant runningcommunity.