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Missoula’s Piano Man Plays for Thousands of Marathon Runners

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Record setting participation gave one Missoula man even more motivation to cheer on the Missoula half and full marathon runners. A look at Missoula’s very own, piano man.

It was apparent on the runners faces, the joy the music brought them. Thousands of participants ran by thanking the ‘piano man’ for his support.

The music has become a tradition.

“Before Missoula had a marathon I was reading a magazine article one time and I turned the page and there was this picture of this beautiful concert grand piano on the cliffs of California along Pacific Coast Highway 1 with a fellow dressed in a tuxedo and he was playing for their San Fransico Marathon,” explained Gary Bowman, The Piano Man.

And since 2011, Bowman does the same things for Missoula marathon runners. His piano sits on a friend’s front lawn near Blue Mountain. This is where half marathoners begin their race and full marathon runners reach their halfway point.

While it’s Bowman’s way of cheering on the runners, he gets his fare share of support from them.

That’s what keeps him going. Bowman plays several pieces in his tux, from the first runner to the last. Just like the marathoners, he doesn’t take a break.

“Pretty symbiotic relationship. I had no idea they would be so incredibly appreciative and show it with applause as their running and working hard, so that kind of fed me, you know-my ego or whatever and it really encourages you to just keep playing and playing and playing,”  said Bowman.

And he’s promised that playing the tradition will continue, even if he decides to run.

“I would really like to run a half marathon one of these days, but I decided if I ever do that I have the perfect person to sit in for me,” said Bowman.

Until he decides to enter a race, he says you will catch him playing the piano for the runners until he can’t do it anymore.

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