MISSOULA - During the Missoula Marathon's two-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, the "marathon zone" has been a construction zone — and the millions of dollars of work is still underway, forcing everyone to adapt this weekend.
When the race was postponed in 2020 and 2021, it actually helped the City of Missoula and the Montana Department of Transportation's plans to renovate the Higgins Avenue, or Beartracks Bridge and Caras Park.
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Yet race weekend has arrived, and half of the bridge is still unfinished, plagued by the supply problems that have upset all plans the past two years. On top of that, a main parking lot upstream of the bridge is now disrupted by Northwestern Energy's replacement of a primary substation. That means more fences and even less parking.
It's all been challenging for Marathon organizers.
"Waiting to hear what was going to happen with the bridge," Run Wild Missoula Executive Director Trisha Drobeck recalled Thursday. "While we were waiting to hear if we could use the bridge, is the bridge going to be done? All of those kinds of questions."
"Construction companies were waiting to hear do they have their beams? Do they have their plates and all of those pieces that they needed to finish. So it was very much up in limbo. So those were supply chain issues that affected us, even though we're not building the bridge. We just wanted to run across it."
Runners will be able to use the completed bridge section through plans worked out with MDT.
And there is some good news on the construction front. The city's contractors were able to wrap up the Caras Park rebuild in time for the races. Thursday volunteers were busy installing fences to protect the newly planted trees. Otherwise, the park itself should be able to handle the crowds on Sunday.
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!