Moments after Jason Delaney blew by the aid station at mile 19.3, Missoula Marathon volunteer George Yellowrobe surmised what might be going through the elite runner’s mind.
“If I’m a marathoner, I thinking ‘I’ve got less than 6 miles. That’s a 10K. I’ve done a 10K a million times. You got this,’ ” he said.
Yellowrobe, a longtime runner who participated in the Coeur d’Alene Ironman race in June, correctly predicted early Sunday morning that it’d be a “fantastic day” for runners taking on the half and full marathon courses at the 2013 Missoula Marathon.
“It’s not too hot. They got going on the race early. I think the heat will treat them right,” Yellowrobe said.
Delaney won the 2013 Missoula Marathon in record-breaking time, beating the old course record by 15 seconds with a time of 2:26:10. Both the men’s and women’s half marathon records were also broken.
Just up the course from Yellowrobe’s station on Hiberta Street, Hayden Carr and a crew of ringers worked to make sure the runners got as much cowbell as they needed to keep pushing on.
The 6-year-old ran his own race Saturday, completing the 1.2 mile Kids Marathon, and was watching his mom, Glenda Carr, run the marathon on Sunday.
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Carr’s cowbell came from a thrift store, his dad Jeff said, after apparently being used by the U.S. Olympic Freestyle ski team at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
“With the cowbells, it kind of gets everybody cheered up. People (run by) and ask for more cowbell,” Jeff said.
So it went throughout the 26.2- and 13.1-mile courses that rambled through Missoula Sunday. Close to 5,000 runners ran as hundreds of volunteers and hosts of well-wishers spurred them on.
Jessica Kato and Bailey Carlson knew how to make runners smile.
Carlson rang a cowbell.
Kato held a double-sided sign on neon paper that stood out among the crowd gathered on the Higgins Avenue Bridge.
“Go, random stranger, go!,” read the pink side.
“Chafe now, margaritas later!” read the green side.
“We’re cheering on her parents, so we thought we might as well cheer on everyone else,” Kato said, adding that Carlson’s mom, Sara, was running the half marathon and is a “margarita fanatic.”
Carlson’s dad, Ian, was running the full marathon.
The clever signs caught the attention of Ron and Allison Fehr.
“I saw her at mile 12 and it still made me laugh,” Allison said of Kato’s “random stranger” sign.
Both the Fehrs beat their personal goals Sunday. Allison ran the half marathon in 2 hours and 29 minutes – 9 minutes under her goal.
Ron, whose brother Collin won the Missoula Marathon last year, finished the marathon in 2 hours and 58 minutes – 13 minutes faster than in 2012.
“(Collin) was injured this year. I had to represent a little,” Ron said.
Of the thousands who poured across the bridge then across the finish line Sunday, five were sisters who came together from across western Montana to run the half marathon.
Julie Huot, of Montana City, and sister Jolyn Orrino, of Anaconda, snapped a picture together just beyond the finish line as they waited for their three sisters to finish walking the race.
Orrino, who had gallbladder surgery three weeks ago, and Huot, who just started training two weeks ago, used the run-walk-run method to complete the half marathon in under three hours. Another sister injured her knee days before the race.
“My sister kept saying, I think (the injuries) are a sign we shouldn’t do this.’ I said, ‘we’re going to do it,’ ” Orrino said. “Even with our little ailments, we did it.”
This is the Missoula Marathon’s seventh year and the largest race yet.
Higgins Bridge, the home stretch for both races, has become known for its high energy that carries runners home. This year, live bands played on the bridge throughout the race and a set of food vendors offered wares to race watchers and participants.
Race security was boosted this year in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. But there were no issues Sunday, race director Anders Brooker said.
“I can’t personally imagine the race going much better,” he said as he worked to break down the course Sunday afternoon.
Marathon finisher Max Hill agreed that the race was a good one. Sunday marked Hill’s second marathon.
This year was cooler than last and, as usual, came with a good crowd with great spirit, Hill said as he looked for a place to stretch and begin recovering.
“Recovery,” Hill said, “is probably going to go into the rest of the week.”
Reporter Jenna Cederberg can be reached at 523-5241 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.