MISSOULA - Jessica Yandell hasn't always loved running, but she's now committed to running a 5K every month until next winter.
Her first challenge will be on Saturday, April 29, 2023, at the YMCA Riverbank Run in downtown Missoula.
This year marks the 51st anniversary of the Riverbank Run which is the oldest footrace in Missoula.
The race — which includes three different length courses: 5k, 10k, and one mile — is known for its community feel and fundraiser for the YMCA
Missoula YMCA Chief Operating Officer Keri McHugh says the race is the Y's second-largest fundraiser.
All the money raised goes towards the YMCA scholarship program, which helps pay for everything from a gym membership to childcare for low-income families.
“We believe that everybody should have access to health and to childcare and healthy living," McHugh says.
The race attracts a lot of families, and because it is one of the first runs of the summer, it is fairly popular.
Missoula YMCA Marketing Director Kat Franchino says the run brings in around 2,400 racers, including 600 students as part of the Riverbank Run's Grade School Challenge.
For Yandell, this was the perfect race to kick off her unique challenge; she loves the family feel and says she is excited to give back to the community.
"A lot of them I like to do for fundraisers like the YMCA," Yandell says. "Most of the ones I've picked for the rest of the summer give back to an organization."
While Yandell recently ran the half marathon in Missoula, she's only been consistently running for a few years.
“I used to really hate to run," she says. "But the more I did it, the more I understood the mentality of pushing yourself, not giving up.”
She says she likes the fact that she can run anywhere, from a treadmill to a camping trip.
"I feel like a lot of other things you do you have to have equipment," she says.
Yandell is excited to kick off her challenge and says her family will be there to support her on Saturday.
The race schedule is as follows:
- 10k start @ 9 a.m.
- 5k start @ 10:30 a.m.
- Trifecta mile @ 11:25 a.m.
- One mile fun run @ 11:45 a.m.
Participants can pick up their registration packet at SCHEELS from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. on April 27, 28, and April 29, or at the start line between 7:30 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Saturday.