Mile marker 18 of Sunday’s Missoula Marathon looked a lot different for Geofrey Terer and Bryanna Petrie.
Terer, a Kenyan who trains in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was just a mile away from making his move that would eventually give the runner his second-straight men’s marathon title.
Petrie, on the other hand, was just about ready to give up.
“It was a straight stretch and I was actually going to tell my husband ‘hey, keep your phone on, I might be calling you to pick me up, because I don’t feel like I can go on,” the eventual women’s champion said.
“But then I saw Reagan with her little GoPro taping me, and I totally forgot I felt like crap and I just kept going.”
Reagan is Petrie’s toddler daughter, who -- along with her little brother, Lincoln -- wore #Mom'sCheerSquad shirts while rooting for their mother.
“They’re my traveling cheer squad – I’m pretty blessed,” Petrie said.
With inspiration in tow, Petrie raced ahead to her first-ever Missoula Marathon victory. Her time of 2 hours, 52 minutes, 8 seconds was the fourth fastest in course history and was 4 minutes, 20 seconds faster than Keely West, who finished in second place.
"I've placed second like four times, so I was about due," deadpanned Petrie, whose last runner-up finish came in 2015. "But Trisha (Drobeck) isn't here, so I don't know if it's a true victory -- she is the defending champion -- but it's awesome to take first."
Drobeck, the two-time defending full marathon winner, finished eighth in the half marathon just three months after having her first child. The ambassador to all things running in Missoula was pleased with her time, as well as the traditionally large and raucous turnout for the Garden City's biggest foot race.
"I was really happy, I ran a very consistent race, my splits were almost even every single one. My last mile may have even been one of my faster miles -- it was good to be back," said Drobeck, running in one of her first competitive races since becoming a mother.
It was Bigfork native Makena Morley who brought home the women's half marathon crown, her second in as many years. The 2014-15 Montana Gatorade Athlete of the Year in cross country and current University of Colorado runner clocked in with her winning time at 1:17:23. John Raneri won the men's 13.1-mile race at 1:06:39; Brian Masterson finished just 21 seconds behind Raneri.
At mile 17, the men’s full marathon race was even closer.
Similar to the 2016 marathon, Terer was pushed by Missoula native Mark Messmer – winner of last month’s Governor’s Cup marathon in Helena. At the 16.9-mile split, Messmer was less than two seconds behind Terer.
“This year I tried to play it out a little bit smarter, it just didn’t work out still,” said Messmer, who was passed up by Terer on the course’s only real elevation change about 13 miles into the 2016 race. “I held on a little bit longer than last year, but he’s fit. He’s got a little extra gear that I don’t have.”
Terer shifted into his second wind shortly after the split.
"It was around mile 19 I decided to push and nobody resisted," Terer said. "I knew, 'OK, it's time now to go.'"
He eventually pulled away to a 1-minute, 47-second lead, crossing the finish line at 2:31:11. The 40-year-old runner also broke the master's course record (2:34:22, Michael Wardian, 2016) with the winning time, even as he high-fived his way across the Higgins Avenue bridge. He smiled wide as he broke through the victory banner 26.2 miles from where he started.
But there was someone beaming even brighter just beyond the half marathon finish line.
Kara Reardon finished 1,229th in the women’s half marathon, but as she crossed the line with her longtime boyfriend, Jason Zentgraf, the 730th place runner in the men’s half had a surprise. He wasn’t taking a knee just because he was tired -- he was proposing.
“My legs were Jello running across the bridge and not from the previous 13 miles,” Zentgraf said of the nerves before asking Reardon to marry him. “It was the first one we ran together and it just seemed too perfect.”
And Reardon’s response?
“Oh my gosh, I feel like I’m in a dream, I can’t believe it,” she said. “I think I started crying first and then I said yes.”
Capping another race weekend that will be especially unforgettable for some.
Full results are available in the Missoulian's special print section and online at http://competitivetiming.com/missoula-marathon/#unique-id-2016.