The Missoula Marathon – It’s More Than a Race

By ANDERS BROOKER

I know I want to write about this year’s Missoula Marathon, but I am struggling with where to start. There are stories of amazing volunteers, months of training and sacrifice, support from our local sponsors, and personal records.  The benefits of training are endless, but I know there isn’t anything as important as the relationships that are built through running.

There are more than just a few runners out there that either choose to or have to train alone.  They put in a countless miles by themselves and run a big race; there is something to be said for doing it in a way that you can only count on yourself.  Maybe it’s the escape they need or their schedule doesn’t allow training with a group. Either way, it’s hard for anyone who has had to go about it alone.

Being the coach for the Missoula Marathon Training Class, I get to see the other side of training.  Everybody in the class has different reasons for being there and not every one of them is looking for a best friend.  But after 18 weeks of training, you can’t help but build a few relationships.  You’re out there twice a week – some days you fly down the road and other days you struggle, counting each step.  Either way, you have somebody to share those struggles with you.  Some days you don’t feel like showing up, but you know your running partner is waiting for you.  On Sunday you may keep the conversation going, on Wednesday it might be up to your partner to do the talking.

There were three guys in this year’s training class who found friendship through their training early on in the program.  Some days they would train together, some days one would feel a little quicker and leave the other two behind.  Even if they weren’t running together, they were checking on each other — helping each other be accountable.  I don’t think either one of these guys will ever know the role that he played in the other men’s training!  They might see each other 2 days a week from here on out, but they have trained, suffered and sacrificed together. And that is certainly enough to build a lifelong friendship.

Next time you are at the finish line of a marathon, take a moment to watch the excitement and relief of participants as they cross the 26.2 mile mark. But more than just watching for these emotions, look for the relationships that have been built through training. These relationships are built by a mutual respect for what each runner has gone through.

Photo:  Scott, Rod and Alan

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Like this blog?  Chances are you’d like these posts:  Missoula Marathon – Bragging Rights to #5, Missoulians appreciate the Prefontaine Classic or When Do You Run?  Or, check out our Missoula Running and Walking page or Missoula Outdoor Recreation section.

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Anders Brooker opened The Runners Edge in July of 2001.  When he is not in the store, he is probably coaching the Hellgate High School Cross Country in the Fall and the distance runners during the track season.  If that wasn’t enough running in his life, he just recently found himself in the role of Missoula Marathon racedirector.