Hahn out to defend men's title at Missoula Marathon

2010-07-09T22:08:00Z 2014-09-26T17:21:47Z Hahn out to defend men's title at Missoula MarathonBy TROY WARZOCHA for the Missoulian missoulian.com
July 09, 2010 10:08 pm  • 

In some circles Sunday is regarded as a day to relax, but for this year's athletes in the fourth annual Missoula Marathon, rest will be the last thing on their minds as they tackle the 26.2-mile course that stretches from Frenchtown to downtown Missoula.

The marathon kicks off at 6 a.m. on Sunday and has drawn national attention by way of awards, a lone athlete from Delaware, and even a late night talk show.

Considering all of the attention the marathon has garnered in the past year, organizers are confident this year's competitor turnout will dwarf previous runs.

"We'll be about double (last year)," said race director Jennifer Straughan.

Registration ends at 6 p.m. on Saturday. Through Friday there were 1,400 runners signed up for the full marathon, 2,400 registered for the half-marathon, 209 kids, and 23 relay teams.

By the time the guns go off on Sunday morning, organizers are expecting a total of about 5,000 participants.

Unlike last year, reigning men's champion Kiefer Hahn registered before the final day and will be back to defend his title.

Hahn, a two-time winner of the event, set an event record last year with a time of 2 hours, 33 minutes and 17 seconds. He's looking to get under the 2:30 mark this year.

Reigning women's champ Annie Thiessen has yet to sign up for the event. However, this not an uncommon occurrence as competitors tend to wait until the last minute to make their intentions official.

Thiessen set a women's record, finishing in 2:57:44, which bested the previous mark by more than 17 minutes.

While a larger field may promote more competition, that doesn't mean records are bound to be broken on Sunday.

"I think we're going to get more competition, but usually the fast - the next level guys and girls - will sometimes go to an even bigger race," said Anders Brooker, race organizer and owner of the Runner's Edge in Missoula. "I don't know if we're going to see an influx of very fast people, but I think we're going to see an influx of people that want to come out here for the Montana experience."

Straughan attributes the meteoric rise in registration to the January 2010 issue of Runner's World. In the issue, the marathon was voted the "Best Overall Marathon" by the readers of the magazine.

"I think there's a lot of care and preparation that goes into (the marathon) and I think it shows," Straughan said. "We've been preparing for this year ever since (receiving the award), because we want people when they come down here to understand why we might have gotten such an award, so we've been working hard."

The recognition has made the marathon into a "must-run" event for many people around the country who pride themselves on running anywhere and everywhere, Straughan added.

With the immense amount of people already registered for this year's event, Straughan and Run Wild Missoula have had to revise many race logistics and procedures.

They revised how many people volunteer coordinators would oversee, changed the way water is provided at the aid stations, and had to find larger storage space for race T-shirts and other merchandise.

Despite the intense preparation required for this year's field, getting everything ready hasn't been any more stressful. In fact, it's a nice problem to have, Straughan said.

With the marathon's new-found national interest, organizers are also proud to boast that this is the first time they will have a competitor from every state.

It came down to the wire, but Jess Manning of Delaware will lace up and represent the final piece of the puzzle on Sunday. Last month, race organizers sent out a call to the nation's second smallest state for a competitor to make the trek to Missoula.

Manning, a triathalon coach by trade, answered the call.

Another unique participant is Monique Frazier, who won a paid trip from Brooklyn, N.Y., to Missoula to compete in the race on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon." Race organizers funded the cross-country trip for Frazier and she will compete in the half-marathon.

In any case, whether they are trained runners looking for glory or just an unassuming late night show audience member looking for a laugh, the marathon has a lot to offer for all participants, said Brooker.

"We have a beautiful place to come to," Brooker said. "The setting is amazing. We finish right on the Clark Fork River in downtown Missoula. It has a small-town setting but we put on a professional race. ... As committee members, one of our biggest goals is to give (the marathon) a Montana feel, that being a friendly small-town feeling marathon that's put on really well."

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