From Afghanistan to the Back of the Pack


Moving to Missoula after eight months in Afghanistan was a huge transition.

Between not knowing anyone, changes in the weather, some minor injuries and just getting settled in, I knew that things would be difficult. Especially in regards to staying motivated to exercise.

Not only did I no longer live within walking distance to my workout partner and had injuries that were flaring up, I also was not looking forward to running when it got cold outside.

I actually hate running. Or maybe I should say hated. It is a love-hate relationship that I have with running. Still, the views were amazing. The mountains, the town, the rivers, and the change in seasons were breathtaking.

But could the views outside get me motivated to run and run far? Could the views help me to reach my goal of finishing a marathon even with minor injuries that I was trying to prevent from reoccurring? Could the views over power the discontentment I had with running alone?

Join the Back of the Pack, and you’ll never run or walk alone.

Well, it was the view that got me running and it was the view that got me beyond my preconceived notion that running groups pushed you to run the whole way and always strive to be one of the first ones to finish.

It is the view that got me not running and not walking alone but it wasn’t the view of the snow on the peaks, the swift flowing current of the rivers, the leaves changing colors, or the running-friendly town.

It was the views from the back. The motivation, friendship and endless encouragement, the view from the back of the pack is the view that made all the difference in my move here, in my health and in my running.

It is this view that will help me reach any running goal that I can fathom including the Missoula Marathon next year.

So, while the transition to move here was difficult, joining Run Wild Missoula and the Back Of the Pack (BOP) was one of the smartest and easiest things I have done since arriving in Missoula.

Run slowly, walk fast….it doesn’t matter… just enjoy the view and one of the BOPers will always be there to help you along the way, you will never be alone. That you can count on.


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


Heather Jenner and her dog, Roxy.

Heather Jenner recently moved to Missoula, Montana after eight months in Afghanistan. She is a traveler but has spent the last ten years between Georgia, Arizona, and California. While she is a beach lover, her love for the mountains brought her to Montana. Currently, she works for the state and finds much of her free time enjoying the outdoors with her dog Roxy, whether it be running through town or enjoying the hiking trails that Missoula has to offer.