Jul 15, 2013 10:43 AM by Jacqueline Quynh - KPAX News
MISSOULA - Runners taking part in both the full Missoula Marathon and the half-marathon certainly faced a challenge on Sunday.
While running for some meant beating a goal time, for others the annual event meant so much more.
The finish line is where it all ends for most of the runners in the Missoula Marathon, but for some the race begins before the starting line.
"We started from zero, one year ago, we weren't runners," Kelli Hess said.
She signed up to run the full marathon with about 1,500 other people in the seventh annual event. "We were inspired by the Missoula Marathon and the people that ran it."
But she says the support of family and friends help her through all 26.2 miles. "Made it really easy for us to get to those spots because we knew we had a fan club."
Even the support of strangers along the route helped runners like Hess keep the spring in her step. Hundreds of people line up to cheer along the route, including at the 15 mile marker, where we heard some of the loudest cheers.
Race director Anders Brookers says it's the people of Missoula that carry the event. "Whether they're on the course cheering for people, or just the patience they have with so many people in town, we couldn't do it without such the support of town.
While the reason to start a marathon varies between runners, crossing the finish line was a goal shared by thousands on Sunday.
"Two years ago November I weighed 400 plus pounds so it has been quite the journey," Chris McLaughlin said.
"This is supporting Missoula Youth Homes, and I think that just makes it that much better," added Sara Stahl, who was the ninth woman to finish the race.
Brookers told us that nearly 6,000 people signed up for this year's event, up about 20% over 2102.