MISSOULA - Since the Missoula Marathon hasn't taken place since 2019, this weekend is a big return for everyone behind the scenes.
"Once the race starts and the guns go off they can kind of breathe a slight sigh of relief and I hope that everyone can enjoy what we've created,” Missoula Marathon Race Director Trisha Drobeck said.
Drobeck noted that after a three-year pause — and many changes — she and the race committee are ready for the return.
"Once the out-of-town runners arrive and they're on the bridge and they're looking around and they're walking around the city looking at their iPhones, that's when I think the excitement kind of starts to bubble,” Drobeck said.
But like anything else following the COVID-19 pandemic, things look a little different. There have also been supply chain issues.
"I placed the orders for our medals and shirts all the way back in November so we could get them in time for the race. Which is about four or five months earlier than you normally would,” Drobeck noted.
There have also been labor shortages and downtown Missoula construction on the Bear Tracks Bridge. "They were extremely gracious and kind in allowing us to use the bridge. At least the two lanes that were open,” Drobeck said.
Drobeck noted that because they are down to two lanes on the bridge the finish line will also look a little bit different. But she says rest assured when runners do cross that finish line those medals will be waiting for them, “we certainly wouldn't want somebody to cross the finish line and not receive a medal.”
Registration was also set at a lower cap for 2022.
"It was an intentional kind of step back in registration numbers. When we opened registration in October, we weren't sure what was happening with COVID. Certain precautions were still in place, so we set those as kind of a control measure for us,” Drobeck explained.
But even after all that, Drobeck says she's thankful to the entire Missoula community and is happy to see race day return.
"We're dealing with everything that we're handed. It's not perfect by any means and we've definitely had some big challenges this year, but we're making the best of it and making the best experience for our participants as we can."
We will have full coverage of the Missoula Marathon on the CW and the KPAX Streaming App starting at 8 a.m. Sunday. From the start in Frenchtown to the finish line downtown, KPAX has team coverage. The winners, the highlights, and more — all available to you Sunday!