One of the things I appreciate about our fine town is that it is comprised of "doers." Missoulians are writers, musicians, Grizzly fanatics, anglers, hikers, hunters and runners, among many other things. We like to have a good time and we know how to party! We are supporters of many good things as well. One of the very good things that happens here is the Missoula Marathon, selected by Runners' World Magazine as the "The Best Over-All Marathon" after only three years.
This is an appeal to all Missoulians to turn up along the race course on the morning of July 11 to cheer on the expected 5,000 participants in this fourth Missoula Marathon and Half Marathon. You probably know some of the folks that you will see coming down the street and your smile and encouragement will be like putting gas in their tank. If you can play music (on a stereo or instrument), sing, dance, juggle or just cheer, your presence and participation will contribute positively to all of the runners' experience. I can tell you that part of what makes the Boston Marathon so amazing is that people line pretty much the entire 26.2 miles route, cheering, wearing costumes, playing music and having a very good time: It's a PARTY.
They've been doing it for more than 100 years and we're just getting started, but we can do that here, too. Some folks do that already and bless those of you that do, but there has been a real shortage of supporters from Reserve Street to the Higgins Bridge the past three years. By the time we cross Reserve Street, marathoners have already run about 20 miles. They say that the first half of a marathon is 20 miles and the second half is the last 6.2 miles. I think it's more like 23/3.2. That stretch is where your support would be especially appreciated. Bring a thermos of coffee/tea, a copy of the Missoulian, a muffin and a lawn chair and a few neighbors and see up-close what heights of personal exertion your everyday fellow humans are capable of. I guarantee: You will cheer.
Those folks willing to volunteer and register as entertainers will receive a T-shirt, invitation to the volunteer appreciation party, have a fabulously great day and may be eligible for a gift certificate to Morgenroth Music. All you have to do is e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, address, phone number, where and when you will be along the route and what you will be doing to entertain the participants.
You may be surprised at seeing some of your friends, relatives or coworkers running down the street that you didn't even know have been putting in the miles during the past three months preparing for this event. You might even decide to give it whirl next year and run the "Best Over-All Marathon" right here in your own backyard. Run Wild Missoula will be waiting for your registration next March and will give you all the guidance and encouragement to complete that successfully. That smile will last for a really, really long time: Priceless.
Rick Ryan is a marathon runner who lives in Missoula.