Marathon No. 9: Staying local

I had never run a marathon in the town that I lived in until toeing the line for the Lewis and Clark Marathon in Bozeman in the fall of 2006. The name for the race is a popular one.

There’s a Lewis and Clark Marathon in Missouri and an L & C half in Washington.

The Bozeman edition runs near where Captain William Clark camped in 1806, 200 years before I ran this hilly course.

The race starts just off Interstate 90 east of town and starts out with 3 ½ miles of mostly climbing, but up until Mile 10, it goes all downhill.

The descending portion allows runners to get ahead of their planned pace, but once you hit another uphill segment after 10, you have to give it all back.

Just after the halfway point, there are more hills, but at this point, another possible barrier emerges. The train.

It is wise to keep your ears perked because you may get held up at a train crossing. Many runners, upon hearing the whistle and rattle of an approaching locomotive, have been known to cross the tracks well before the crossing rather than get halted while waiting for a slow, long train. A race official is, however, positioned at the crossing to time anyone unfortunate enough to be stuck.

The course begins to crawl near town in the teen miles. In the 20s, the course takes runners on popular trails, which was a nice feeling to be running on familiar terrain.

The final mile is run along a trail near a field before popping out at the edge of the campus of Montana State University. The final stretch is run on a track. It’s the longest trip around the oval you’ll ever take.

I finished in 3:09 and placed third, starting a stretch of races where I finished in the top 3. These small-town events are an ego boost when you can finish that high. Of course, there were only 66 runners. But my prior marathon, in Boston, there were 19,682. And I placed 2,412th. I know because I looked it up.

I didn’t run another marathon for nearly a year, but 2007 was not a down year. Not when you know your life is about to change ….




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