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Runners celebrate as they cross the finish line at the Missoula Marathon in summer 2017. 

MISSOULA — The Run Wild Missoula Board of Directors and the Missoula Marathon Race Committee have chosen to move the Missoula Marathon to the last Sunday in June, starting in 2019.

No change is being made to the 2018 marathon weekend, still scheduled for July 13-15. The marathon and half marathon will still be held on Sunday, July 15.

The 2019 event will be held June 28-30. The marathon and half marathon will take place on Sunday, June 30. The 2020 event will be June 26-28 with the marathon and half marathon on Sunday, June 28. 

The move from the traditional July date was prompted by the increase, timing and duration of the wildfire season in the Pacific and Inland Northwest.

“We’re concerned about the trend we’ve seen with earlier and earlier starts to the fire season in the northwest United States. Our location makes us susceptible to wildfire smoke from Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, northern Idaho and western Montana," Missoula Marathon Race Director Tony Banovich said in a press release. "While the configuration of our valley leads to incredible mountain views, it also can result in wildfire smoke being trapped in the valley. As we’ve seen over the last several years, the air quality can degrade to the point of causing outdoor events to be canceled."

The inaugural Missoula Marathon was on July 15, 2007 and according to Missoulian archives, Mayor John Engen proclaimed July 15 as "Missoula Marathon Day." In the 11 years since, the marathon has been held as early as July 9 and as late as July 14. 

“Before making this decision, we consulted with local groups such as Destination Missoula, Missoula Downtown Association, Missoula International Airport and Missoula Parks & Recreation. We also reviewed local, regional and national running events from May through July to find a suitable opening on the race calendar," Banovich said in the press release. "Our goals were to avoid negative impacts to other events while minimizing the risk of having to cancel the marathon due to health and safety concerns for our participants, and we feel that we were able to meet those objectives.”

The Missoula Marathon weekend typically sees over 6,500 registered participants, with over 2,500 of those coming from outside of Montana. The event was named the Best Marathon in 2010 by the readers of Runner’s World; the No. 1 Ranked Marathon in the U.S. by The BibRave 100 in 2017; and, was listed by Runner’s World as the No. 1 Bucket List Marathon for 2018.

 

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