Back of the Pack Runners Welcome New Members

By PAM GARDINER, Wellbuddies Coaching

Run Wild Missoula’s Back of the Pack mailing list started up just a year ago. Since that time, more than 100 dedicated runners and walkers have gathered around the motto, “Run Wild at Any Pace.” A few weeks ago, a new member of the BOP made its appearance in club newsletters. We expect him to become a celebrity before long.

The BOP tortoise is a creation of Dariusz Jankzewski (DJ), a graphic artist and runner who does a lot of great work for Run Wild Missoula. The new BOP logo captures several important themes for Back of the Packers:

• The Tortoise and the Hare is our favorite Aesop fable. The tortoise in that story won a race with a speedy hare. He persisted in pursuit of his goal, while the hare stopped by the roadsidefor a nap. The tortoise put one foot in front of the other until he crossed the finish. At the last minute, the hare recognized his mistake but was unable to catch up.

• The BOP tortoise doesn’t take himself too seriously. He is wears shades of basic green, and doesn’t make a point of standing out in the crowd.

• He has a sense of humor. Who else would go out jogging with his house on his back?

• He is happy and wears a smile. He loves the runner’s high, and knows it is not so much a function of speed but of time spent in motion.

The BOP tortoise is one of many signs that Run Wild Missoula welcomes new members who run and/or walk more slowly than average. You will also see new postcards around town with photos of our group in action, a description of our activities, and information about how to get involved.

A recent members’ survey revealed the following about the BOP:

1. We like gathering socially to run and to walk. We like to hold some events specifically for slower runners and walkers.

2. We want to attend other Run Wild Missoula running events, such as Beer Runs and Saturday Breakfast Runs, if we can expect to find pace-mates when we get there.

3. We want buddies, and are looking for ways to connect with people who have a similar pace, favorite place, and compatible schedule. “Personals” announcements in the BOP Bulletin, Facebook posts, and e-mail inquiries have been working, and we are looking for more ways to meet that need.

4. We like reading and writing about experiences at the Back. The BOP has a monthly e-mail (the BOP Bulletin), a column in the Run Wild Missoula newsletter (View from the Back), and this monthly blog on Make it Missoula.

5. We love to encourage others. The BOP Cheerleaders made their debut at the Missoula Marathon, arriving in time to inspire those who finished after five and a half hours. The Cheerleaders have since made an appearance at several local events, and are becoming known for our colorful plastic clappers.

Uniforms coming next…tutus anyone?

If you love to run and walk, want company, and wonder how to find the community of tortoises in your league, check out the BOP webpage on the Run Wild Missoula website. We look forward to meeting you soon!





Do you want to join the Back of the Pack? You might like more of Pam’s posts: Galloway Training for the Back of the Pack and Who Will I Find at the Back of the Pack?.

  Visit the Run It / Walk It Archive.


Pam Gardiner retired from the US Forest Service in 2008, and trained as a wellness coach (doing business as Wellbuddies Coaching). She also volunteers for Run Wild Missoula, co-directing the Galloway marathon training program and developing programs that encourage slower runners and walkers at the Back of the Pack.

Pam started running in her early 50’s, and ran three marathons the year she turned 55. A decade later, she has settled on the half-marathon as her preferred distance. Pam is grateful for the diverse and inclusive community of runners and walkers in Missoula.