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Missoula runner Trisha Drobeck reacts last July as she crosses the finish line of the Missoula Marathon in a time of 2 hours, 48 minutes and 35 seconds, winning the women's open division for a record fourth time, including the last three in a row.

KURT WILSON, Missoulian

Time and time again, Trisha Drobeck has taken home the win in her hometown Missoula Marathon.

2010. 2012. 2015. 2016. All four years, all four wins for the elite athlete.

2017? The full marathon will have to take a rain check.

This year Drobeck will be making an appearance in the half-marathon, not because she’s slacking, but because she gave birth to her first daughter, Maisie, on March 30.

“I just can’t imagine not doing it,” Drobeck said. “It’s my hometown race. I love it so much. I just can’t imagine not doing it. It’s almost a question not of why would you do it, but why would you not? I’ve never really questioned it.”

Drobeck not only won the 2016 race, but also posted the second-fastest time in course history, shy of 2 minutes slower than her course record she set the year before.

Drobeck hasn’t run the half-marathon in Missoula since 2008, when she placed second.

“It’ll be nice to be around excited runners,” Drobeck said. “That anticipation is really contagious. Just being at the start line and the finish line is a pretty cool feeling. Even though I’m not going to be at my fittest, it’s still an accomplishment and I’m still happy I’m participating.”

The last year and a half has been a whirlwind for Drobeck.

She had her first child. She won the 2016 Missoula Marathon. And she qualified for and participated in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Los Angeles.

Finding out she had qualified was a rollercoaster in itself.

Ten weeks before the competition, the time standard to qualify for the trials was 2 hours, 43 minutes. Drobeck’s personal best wasn’t quite that. However, the time standard was brought down to 2:45, just enough for her to qualify.

“When they changed it, I was like ‘Oh my God, I qualified for the Olympic Trials. This is crazy,’” Drobeck recalled. “I didn’t have too much time to prep. And I was injured.”

Drobeck tore her Achilles tendon previously and couldn’t run, so her preparation for the Trials was quite different than most. Her workouts consisted of walking on an incline and riding a stationary bicycle at the gym for several hours each day for nine weeks.

For a while, her goal was just to run 10 miles at the Trials. As she got stronger, she thought she might be able to run a little more.

By the time the big race came around in February 2016, Drobeck said her foot had healed just enough to where she could run the entire race. And then the adrenaline took over.

Drobeck finished in 87th place with a time of 2:53.05, all in all not too far off her personal best.

“All I wanted to do was finish the Trials,” Drobeck said. “I soaked it up. I had so much fun. I ran for fun.”

And running for fun is exactly what Drobeck is doing on Sunday.

“Being post-baby running? She’s amazing.” said Margie Menendez, a fellow Missoula Marathon runner and member of Run Wild Missoula.

Drobeck said during the first 10 weeks of her pregnancy -- which came right after the 2016 Missoula Marathon -- she couldn’t run, in part due to both the sickness that came in her first trimester and re-tearing the same tendon from before the Trials. She eventually got back running until she hit the Week 33 mark in her pregnancy. Even then, she hit the pool every day.

This time around, Drobeck said she’s going to spend more time taking in the scenery and do things she always tries to do, but never gets the chance.

“Maybe I can take in a little bit of the course and its beauty and high five some kids,” Drobeck said. “Maybe thank some volunteers and kinda do all the stuff I always intend to do but I just don’t want to spend the energy at the end of a marathon doing.”

Even though Drobeck isn’t in the same shape as she was a few years ago, she’s still going to compete, just maybe not for the title.

"She'll be running hard,” race director Tony Banovich said of Drobeck. “She won't just be going out for a jog. She'll be racing the half. She won't be racing at the level she was last year at the marathon trials, but she will be racing nonetheless and she will be running well, I have no doubt about it."

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