The Run-Up to the Marathon: Co-Course Director Mike Foote


As an employee of The Runner’s Edge, I have been involved with the Missoula Marathon peripherally for multiple years now.

Only this spring, when Missoula Marathon Race Director Anders Brooker asked me if I would like to take on the role of co-course director, did I start to gain a true understanding of what it takes to put on an event of this magnitude.

Along with fellow course director Frank Scariano, I have to wear many hats in preparing for the “Big Day”.

By definition, I am responsible for everything between the start and finish line the morning of the race. Yes, this means volunteers, course markers, barricades, policemen, and even the porta potties!

Our course is open on July 8 from 6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., yet the planning and preparation for this short window of time began months ago. From securing city, county, and state special-use permits, to interfacing with multiple law enforcement agencies, to soliciting help from dozens of people in the community, the logistics can be overwhelming at times.

A group of runners finishes the Missoula Marathon.

Luckily, much like raising a child, this race takes a village. And that village, I realized, is a dedicated group of individuals here in Missoula with a tireless work ethic and commitment to excellence who are determined to provide nothing short of the best event they can offer. I am thankful for their knowledge and support, as well as the groundwork that has been laid by course directors and marathon committee members of prior years.

We hope to better this event each year by helping the participants feel safe, secure, and supported from start to finish. To succeed in this, we must juggle responsibilities from refining our traffic control plan, to discussing entrance and exit routes along the course for medical personnel, to deciding the best place to put a local drumming band to motivate runners! It’s a dynamic process, to say the least.

Full disclosure: There are days when it feels like work to prepare for and plan all of the logistics and contingencies on the day of the race.

In the end, I go back to the thought of what this event means for our town. It is exciting to share this amazing place with so many from around the world. And then I think of the many Missoulians who have set their goals high to compete in the race, or simply complete the ominous distance of 13.1 or 26.2 miles. I think of all the work, sacrifice, and compromises they have made just to reach the start line.

Calling all volunteers! For more info or to volunteer to help at the Missoula Marathon, visit the Run Wild Missoula website.


Stay in the loop with Missoula’s running community! Check out the Run/Walk It archives for more posts from Missoula runners and walkers.


Mike Foote works at the Runner’s Edge and is the Co-Course Director of the Missoula Marathon.