There is a young, vibrant running community budding in Missoula. We all come down from the mountain trails, put our own priorities aside and come together for one race each year to represent Missoula. Going into the race we all know it will be painful but we still line up in our maroon gym basketball jerseys.
Apparently starters pistols are too wimpy for Montana. Here we use shotguns. If you ever need inspiration to start a race - have someone discharge a shotgun ten feet from you! BOOM we were gone. Maybe it was the shotgun but I went out a little too hard for just coming off a 100 mile race.
The first mile was quick and we were still all bunched up. The course was flatter this year so I had to stick with the top runners or risk losing the race in the first 5 min. Missoula was well represented in the front group and we charged on together.
Right before the half way point ( ~3k) two runners charged off the front. A local high school stand out and a recent college graduate took to the front. It was clear that a decision had to be made. These guys had several cross country races under their belt and it was unlikely they would fall apart in the last 3k.
Alan and I decided to bridge the gap to the youngsters and see if we could make it a proper race. And so it began...
After a 1000 meters or so I knew it was now or never and put in a big effort to close the gap. It almost worked. About a mile from the finish line I caught the heels of the two front runners on the longest hill of the course. They saw me coming and bombed the down hill and left me in the dust.
I was able to hold my ground until the last 500 meters when the wheels fell off. Alan caught me and I managed to hold on for fourth. The result was somewhat disappointing but a good sign that I have made the transition to ultra runner. Congrats to the two youngsters who executed perfectly!
The good news is that we got we came for - the team win! To top it off we almost, almost swept the entire meet. Between the men's and women's races we only lost the men's masters race. Ironic because the men's masters team is the most dedicated group and the driving force behind the entire Missoula team. Maybe next year! Always great to catch up with everyone and meet some new Missoula runners. We are a rugged bunch!
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