Nearly 1,300 people crowded around the starting line at 8 o'clock Saturday morning in front of the Wilma Theater on Higgins for the Missoula Marathon 5k race, but there were smiles all around.

The 5k is considered 'the fun family race', with many corporate teams dressed in tu-tus, matching company tee shirts, and families running together from kids in strollers to great grandparents.

photo by Peter Christian
5k 2016 Ben Schmidt

5K Race Director Ben Schmidt, an air quality officer at the Missoula City Health Department Monday through Friday, said the race sold out quickly.

"It sold out about a week or so ago, I'm not sure of the exact day," Schmidt said. "It's great to have that much participation out of the community, and the corporate challenge, as usual, is a pretty big success."

Schmidt said the heavy rains expected for Sunday's half and full marathon would not adversely affect the runners.

"The rain is actually good for running," he said. "With these cool temperatures, you don't get overheated. People actually run their best and fastest when it's overcast, and a light drizzle really won't hurt anything. I'm running the half-marathon myself and I hope we can just hold the rain off till noon, that would be great."

This reporter finished the 5k inexactly 40 minutes, with just a few breaks from my trademark slow jog to walk for a few hundred yards until I got my wind back. It's a great experience to hear your name announced as you cross the finish line, something the race organizers strive to do for everyone that finishes. Then, you receive a very substantial medal for finishing, and compare notes with other runners while wandering through all the displays at Caras Park.

On Sunday, the half marathon will start from the Peak Health and Wellness Center, while the full marathon will start at  Frenchtown School. Buses will begin transporting runners from the Adams Center Parking lot on the UM Campus to both locations at 4:00 a.m. on Sunday, and a simultaneous 6:00 a.m. start. The finish line will be on Higgins in front of the Wilma Theater.

In 2010, Runners World Magazine readers named the Missoula Marathon, organized by Run Wild Missoula, the best in the country, and the participants in Saturday's 5k and kids one-mile fun run, certainly agreed.


More From 96.3 The Blaze