Running, Walking, and Connecting at a Conversational Place

By PAM GARDINER, Wellbuddies Coaching

Back of the Packers meet at Bass Creek.

It was just a year ago (on the spring Equinox, in fact) that Run Wild Missoula’s Back of the Pack met upstairs at the Runner’s Edge for a “planning meeting.”

About 20 people showed up – not bad, given the subject (a promise of snacks and drinks may have helped). That meeting started us down the path to a series of monthly BOP social run/walks.

They started at Maclay Flats on a cold Friday evening in April. From there, they moved to Frenchtown Pond, Larry Creek picnic area, Splash Montana, and Bonner. The Fort Missoula ballfields, Currents, Westside Lanes, Blacksmith Brewery, and the homes of BOPers have all hosted the Back of the Pack.

BOP events feature the convergence of runners and walkers who want to spend time together celebrating community over competition.

Not all BOPers are slow runners. However, we do all like to spend some of our workout time connecting.

A group of BOPers at Frenchtown Pond.

We run and walk. We maintain a conversational pace because we want to converse. We adopt a pace that works for everyone because we are inclusive. We come back in plenty of time to share a snack, a drink, or a meal.

Different BOPers “host” the event each month.

Hosting can be low-key. It involves choosing a gathering place (park, restaurant, home) with an adjacent trail, and setting a date and a time. The host decides whether to convene a pot-luck or no-host social at a commercial venue.

In April, we will be BOPing from Target Range School and connecting after at a member’s home. Stay tuned for details.

Everyone is welcome at the BOP. YOU are welcome at the BOP. Just show up, accept the offer of a free green bandanna, and try it out.

Let us know you’re coming and we’ll be looking for you!


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 PackBack of the Pack Welcomes New Runners, and Who Will I Find at the Back of the Pack?.

  Visit the Run/Walk It, Missoula 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.