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2021 Missoula Marathon going virtual

Missoula Marathon
Posted at 10:18 AM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 16:13:49-05

UPDATE: 2:00 p.m. - March 4, 2021

MISSOULA - The Missoula Marathon is going virtual again this year.

Run Wild Missoula says they worked with the Missoula City-County Health Department to plan for an in-person event, but that just isn't possible right now.

Thousands of people travel from all over to participate in the races, and organizers don't want to risk spreading COVID-19.

After canceling for the first time ever -- and losing beloved race director Tony Banovich last year – Run Wild Missoula says they've had a difficult year, but are looking forward to offering the races in this format.

Registration opened in October, and Race Director Ashley Cossairt says people are ready to run in June. While she knows it won't be the same, this was the best decision.

"You really miss that human connection. Trying to host a, put together an event that has all these restrictions, and you can't really interact,” Cossairt told MTN News. “You can't cross the finish line and have somebody put that medal around your neck for you -- that's such a huge accomplishment and to not be able to experience that, it is sad."

The marathon typically brings in about $2 million to the local economy. But perks of going virtual mean anyone can participate from anywhere. Registration is open online for all the races here.


(first report: 10:18 a.m. - March 4, 2021)

This year’s Missoula Marathon weekend of events will shift to a fully virtual event that will be held in late June.

Run Wild Missoula staff has been working with the Missoula Marathon medical director, the Missoula Marathon Race Committee, the Run Wild Missoula Board of Directors, and the Missoula City-County Health Department to plan for a COVID-modified, in-person event, according to a news release.

However, due to COVID-19 and the timing of vaccines in both Missoula and the locations where participants will be traveling from, it became clear that holding an in-person event in June will not be possible.

“When we opened registration in October, we were cautiously optimistic that we would be able to return to large in-person events, and welcome participants from all 50 states and around the world for our 15th annual marathon weekend,” Race Director Ashley Cossairt said. “As much as we want to see runners crossing the finish line in downtown Missoula and celebrating their accomplishment after a difficult year, we have come to realize that the time still isn’t right."

“We know marathon weekend brings thousands of people to downtown Missoula and is a significant draw for local hotels, restaurants, breweries, retailers, and other small businesses,” Cossairt stated. “However, the medical support staff we rely on will still be very busy serving our community in a significant way by providing treatment and vaccinations, and it would clearly be irresponsible for us to put our community at risk by hosting an event with this type of reach.”

“When we opened registration in October, we were cautiously optimistic that we would be able to return to large in-person events, and welcome participants from all 50 states and around the world for our 15th annual marathon weekend,” Race Director Ashley Cossairt said. “As much as we want to see runners crossing the finish line in downtown Missoula and celebrating their accomplishment after a difficult year, we have come to realize that the time still isn’t right.”

“While we are extremely proud of our ability to attract participants from far and wide to our event, we must acknowledge the impact that could have on COVID-19 transmissions,” Cossairt added. “We know marathon weekend brings thousands of people to downtown Missoula and is a significant draw for local hotels, restaurants, breweries, retailers, and other small businesses. However, the medical support staff we rely on will still be very busy serving our community in a significant way by providing treatment and vaccinations, and it would clearly be irresponsible for us to put our community at risk by hosting an event with this type of reach.”

“The Missoula Marathon has become emblematic of fellowship - it’s a celebration of the connection between runners through our sport, our admiration of each other as athletes, and our appreciation of the community that hosts and fosters the event,” said Dr. Rob Amrine, the Missoula Marathon Medical Director. “Unfortunately, the protocols that we would require to ensure your safety, our volunteers’ safety, and the safety of our city would only deflate the celebration that makes the Missoula Marathon such a treasured event.”

Catherine Redfern, Run Wild Missoula Board President, added, “This decision was not one we, as an organization, made lightly. However, after taking into account the risk factors, we believe cancelling this year’s in-person event is the best decision for our race participants and the Missoula community.”

“Unfortunately, the protocols that we would require to ensure your safety, our volunteers’ safety, and the safety of our city would only deflate the celebration that makes the Missoula Marathon such a treasured event,” observed said Missoula Marathon Medical Director Dr. Rob Amrine.

“This decision was not one we, as an organization, made lightly. However, after taking into account the risk factors, we believe cancelling this year’s in-person event is the best decision for our race participants and the Missoula community,” Run Wild Missoula Board President Catherine Redfern added.

The Missoula Marathon, which takes place annually on the last weekend in June, consists of a Marathon, Half Marathon, 5K, Kids Marathon, Beer Run and Runner Expo. Click here for additional information about this year's virtual event.

The Virtual Missoula Marathon Experience will include:

  • A custom Runner Box delivered to your door with Missoula- and Montana-specific goodies.
  • In-person pick up option for local residents.
  • Discounted registration for 2022.