Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Race Recap: Missoula Half Marathon (Part 2)

If you missed my first Missoula Half Marathon post you can read about it HERE

Race morning came quick and I was feeling a wee bit tired. Even though I slept fairly well, I know that poor Cass and Jen didn’t have the best night of sleep. We were out of our hotel door by a little bit after 4:00 am so that we could grab a quick bit to eat at the hotel’s continental breakfast (loved that they served breakfast especially early on race day). The race started at 6:00 am and it was mandatory that all participants take a bus to the start. Not knowing what parking downtown would be like with 5,000 + participants we wanted to play it safe. Thankfully, we easily found parking just a couple of blocks from the bus departing area and the finish line.

Stolen from Cass

Here is the big failure came in (besides forgetting my Garmin @ home): none of us thought to bring anything warm to wear prior to the race. The bus dropped us off at 5:00 am and it was below 50 degrees. It was cold and there was no shelter to keep us warm. I did have a long sleeved shirt, but it was thin. I froze my buns off! For an hour I sat on a cement wall with my teeth chattering glaring at everyone who was dressed warm. How did we not think to bring warm clothes?! That seriously was a total novice move on my part. Due to this, I waited until the last minute before doing my bag check.

Stolen from Cass 

The race atmosphere at the starting line was pretty amazing. Every 15 minutes prior to the start they let off fireworks. Watching the sun coming up was truly beautiful. If you have never been to Montana- their sunsets/sunrises are amazing. You don’t call Montana “Big Sky” country for nothing. About 20 minutes before the race started they even had a group warm up and stretching. I didn’t partake, but a lot of people did. For 3500 half marathon participants they had over 80 port-a-potties so there was never a long line to wait.

Before the race started they played the national anthem. My little teeth were chattering so bad that I hoped people around me couldn’t hear them. I had a feeling it would be a slow start for me because I was so cold standing there in just a sports bra, spandex shorts and my team sparkle skirt. The race started with a huge fireworks display. I was bummed that I was towards the front because I missed most of the fireworks, but I could hear them for at least a ¼ of a mile. It was a cool and unique way to start the race. The first mile was pretty congested as people who were much slower were in the front where they should not have been.

I was surprised how much downhill was in this course. The elevation chart made it seem relatively flat with some gradual uphill. The first 1-3 miles were mostly downhill with some flat portions. The scenery was so beautiful. The first couple of miles were mostly shaded in the trees so it took me until about the 5K mark to feel warm. Once we got out of the trees we were running through the Missoula countryside which resembled a postcard. One super cool thing that was out on the course (made me wish I had my camera) was a guy playing his piano in the middle of a field. So cool!

I was worried about the elevation since Missoula sits at 3500 ft which is about 1000 ft higher than Spokane. I didn’t notice the elevation too much except for when I would take a sip of my Nuun or when I took my honey stinger gel. It took me about 30 seconds to catch my breath. I am so glad that I had my Nuun in my handheld though. I only had to stop at one water station because I really needed to some water and that was at mile 10.

Since I don’t have my garmin mile splits (Cass didn’t have her watch set up for that feature) I am not sure what my exact pace was in the beginning. I want to see it was relatively close to the Negative Split ½ Marathon which is what I wanted. I definitely finished faster because my pace dipped into the sub 7:00 min range over the last 5K. The last 5K is run through neighborhoods so there are a lot of turns. It looked much worse on the course map, but in reality it wasn’t bad. The turns were actually nice for me. Since I was hurting, I could use the turn points as “just get to the turn” and then “just get to the next turn” and then “just get to the freaking finish!”

Once I finished and got my really neat and unique to Montana finisher’s medal I headed over to grab some food and get my gear bag. The post race food was awesome!!! Best post race food I have ever had. The pasta that they served was so delicious; I could have inhaled an entire plate of it. Upon exiting the food and gear bag retrieval area there were signs leading runners to another area where you could hang out, get your official results (pick up award if you placed in your AG), get your free finisher’s photo and your beer.

Free finisher's photos printed on site

I knew that I would be waiting a while for Cass and Jen to finish so I decided to get a finisher’s photo while there was no line. They gave you 3 different backgrounds to choose from and even printed your photo on site. I loved that they did that! I grabbed my beer which was provided by the Big Sky Brewing Company and then got my official results before walking back up to the finish line to wait for Cass & Jen.

Once Cass and Jen finished I met them at the end of the gear retrieval area and we walked down so we could get a finisher’s photo together and they could get their beer. The line was much longer for the photo this time, but it moved pretty quickly. They even printed a photo for each of us.

Top left: race shirt, Top right: freezing before the race
Rest of the photos are post race celebrating

Medal up close looks HUGE next to my other race bling

After we were showered and ready for the drive back to Spokane, we made one last stop in Missoula- Staggering Ox. They have best (and super unique) sandwiches! It made for a great lunch before our drive back.

What I loved:
The course- beautiful Montana countryside.
The fireworks at the start of the race.
The finisher’s medal- so unique!
Piano man playing!
The volunteers were exceptionally amazing. They were cheering for us and giving us high fives when we got off the bus at the start.
Free post race photo that you got onsite.
All of our course race photos were including in our registration fee.
The residents that were out in their driveway at 6:00 am cheering us on.
A can of beer in the post race area from a local brewery.
Delicious post race food.
Finisher’s results on site, if you placed in your AG you could pick up your award on the spot.
Local food & beverage trucks by the finish line serving tasty food and cocktails.
Great value for the price of race registration.
Participants from all 50 states!

What I didn’t love:
The start not being set up by pace. I passed  ton of slower people in the first couple of miles that made for some congestion on the course. 
No warm shelter at the start (mostly my fault for being a dumb dumb and not packing warm clothes!)
The shirt- probably my least favorite race shirt (everything else made up for that downfall).

I only have one race that I love to run every year and that is the Helvetia ½ Marathon. After running Missoula though, it has become my new favorite half marathon. Missoula is a race that I will want to run every year if I can. It is also a great course where I think there could be PR potential!

Bottom line: RUN MISSOULA! I already have July 13th, 2014 penciled in on my calendar.  Missoula is sold out every year. The half was sold out by the middle of June and the full was sold out sometime in the spring.

PS- All of my thoughts and opinions are my own. I was not compensated to say how great this race was.



  1. Sounds like one awesome race!! Love that the race photos are included in registration and fireworks at the beginning?? I'm sold! .. Will have to make a point to run this race in the future! Awesome job :)

    1. The fireworks were pretty cool! I think I paid around $70 for the registration and it said on the event website that the photos would be included. I loved that they did that. I felt like I got a lot of bang for my buck.

  2. Replies
    1. The race was awesome Kat. One of the best organized and most scenic courses I have run on.

  3. So much awesome! Love that you get free race photos, awesome food, and sweet medals!! Wish I were closer to run it!

    1. The medal is freaking huge compared to my other race bling. I love it! I really felt like I got a lot of bang for my buck at this race. I can't wait for next year!

  4. I want to run this so badly now! It looked awesome!

  5. Awesome job, Tasha!! I hate when the start is not lined up by pace, it makes it so tricky to be weaving in and out and tripping over people. But you ran a solid race- congrats!

    1. Thanks Laura. I really loved the race. I can't wait to train for a PR next year because the course had PR written all over it. :-)

  6. Wow! Great photos and sounds like a great race!!! Congrats!

  7. Free finisher photo and Big Sky beer??? Can we please do this next year?! Sounds awesome! Glad you had such a great race :)

    1. YES Robyn!!! Please come and do this race next year. I think Lindsay is talking about running it too. It was such a great race. You would love it!

  8. I am cold just thinking about your start! It sounds like a great race though - and great celebrations afterwards!

    1. It was FREEZING and I felt like an idiot for not thinking about packing warm clothes. Hello, 5 am isn't warm. What was I thinking?! I will definitely pack warm clothes for next year. :-)

  9. Great race!

    Cute outfit! <333 Pink

    1. Thanks Liana! I love pink too. I might be obsessed with pink. :-)

  10. i'm in!! seriously!! congrats on a great race, too!

    1. Thanks Elizabeth! I know that is a way for you to travel, but the race was so great. I think that it would be worth the trek. Montana is a beautiful state to visit. When you are in Missoula you are close to Glacier National Park too. You could fly into Spokane and drive over(about 3 hours) and take in some great sights.

  11. This does sound like a great race!! I don't think I've ever heard of any with the free finisher's photos. I would have loved the man playing the piano in the field too!

    1. The marathon I ran for practice back in April also did the free finisher photo download. It also happened to be the same photography company so I don't know if that had anything to do with it. The man playing the piano was so awesome. I wish I had my camera!

  12. Sounds like an awesome race, I have been interested in running this half and now I think I will try to make it happen next year :) Thanks for the recap!! Looks like you guys had a great time too :)


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