Still trying to decide whether or not to throw your hat in the ring and run the 2013 Missoula Marathon or half marathon?
Race officials are providing an incentive this year for anyone who makes a decision by Dec. 31, offering discounted early bird registration prices for the popular race, slated for July 14, 2013.
On Jan. 1, registration prices are going up.
The new registration format is one of several changes in store for the Missoula Marathon this year. Another is that for the first time the number of runners is being capped. All changes are aimed at making the Missoula Marathon a better race, director Anders Brooker said.
“We’re doing this for two reasons. One is to create some excitement, but also to help us plan. There are a lot of decisions to make when putting on an event this size, and if you don’t know how many people it’s harder to plan,” Brooker said.
Early bird registration for the full marathon is $75, and registration bumps to $90 on Jan. 1. The half marathon costs $60 until Dec. 31, when it bumps to $80.
Starting July 1, registration prices jump another $30.
“That’s a lot of money and we know it; that’s why we want to get the word out and get people registered early,” Brooker said.
The registration price increase wasn’t something the race committee took lightly.
“We’ve always made a point of not just making money, we want to invest back into this race and into the community,” Brooker said.
Full and half marathon registration includes a free finish-line photo download, race shirt and medal.
Brooker believes the Missoula Marathon remains a good value.
Registration for larger marathons can cost upward of $250 and don’t always include the same kind of incentives, he said.
Last year, around 1,250 people ran the full Missoula Marathon, 2,700 ran the half marathon and 29 relay teams participated.
This year, the full marathon is capped at 1,500 runners, the half at 3,500 and the Missoula 5K, held on Saturday, at 1,000. No relay teams will be allowed to run the race this year.
The cap allows for a 10 percent to 20 percent growth, depending on the race. It will allow for a kind of measured growth that also curtails overcrowding, Brooker said.
Promoting earlier registration also may help runners save money, Brooker said.
“We’re saying, ‘Hey, register, get your hotel room now. It’ll help you save some money and time,’ ” Brooker said. “One of the biggest things we hear from people out of state is that it’s expensive to travel to Missoula and by the time they register they can’t get a flight.”
Run Wild Missoula, which puts on the race, is hosting a Missoula Marathon Registration Holiday Party on Thursday at Big Sky Brewing Co. at 6:30 p.m. to help encourage local runners to take advantage of the early bird prices.
Kendall 4 Seasons Subaru will be announced as the race’s title sponsor at the event. This is the first year the race has had a title sponsor and will be another element that helps improve the race, Brooker said.
“Having a title sponsor allows us financially to do things we wanted to do to make the event better,” Brooker said.
The most important use of the sponsorship money will go toward improving course safety, as traffic control is one of the most expensive parts of putting on a race, Brooker said.
The weekend leading up to the Sunday race also will be full of events, including a Friday night beer run and race expo on Saturday with bands, food and guest speakers.
“Our goal is to grow the weekend to make it for families, for everybody,” Brooker said.
Reporter Jenna Cederberg can be reached at 523-5241 or at email@example.com.