Let me start by saying how bizarre it was driving 26.2 miles out from Billings on a country road andcoming across a dozen of the fittest athletes imaginable gathered to run a marathon. The Montana Marathon is a point-to-point which starts at the small outpost of Molt and heads back to Billings. The weather was crystal clear and the sky was, as they say, big.
Today’s runners were fit. There were a couple of powerful looking firefighter’s, several triathletes, two ultrarunners, a pair of tough as nails (and funny as heck) Canadian’s, and an elementary school teacher running, which I only discovered after he finished, his first marathon.
The pace of the group was aggressive from the start, and even as temperatures rose during the latter parts of the run, the tempo didn’t slow. For my part, I basically hung on as the group pounded out the miles. It got pretty warm starting around mile 18, and it wasn’t easy keeping up. Luckily our support vehicle was nearby for the entire distance, and we burned through a ton of water and Cytomax.
At the last mile, the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students of Central Heights Elementary School lined thepath. The teacher and coach, who was the one running the marathon with us, had made arrangements for the kids to join us for the last mile. They had been tracking the Endurance 50 as a lesson plan, and they all had on t-shirts with the typing on the back, “Endurance Is…” and they had each hand written their own definition. They ran the last mile to the finish with us, screaming and cheering the entire way.
People have asked me if this whole thing is becoming a blur? It’s not. In fact, I remember every minute of the past 12 days vividly. The dozen runners I spent some time with today are unforgettable. Their strength and power carried me through the run, and I will remember each and every one of them not just for their athletic prowess, but for their compassion and graciousness.
I read the backs of a lot of the kid’s shirts at the finish, and probably my favorite was a little girls that simply said, Endurance Is…Always trying your best.
From the land of Big Sky, trying my best,