Instead of running with bulls, how about turkeys?
Missoula is a body-conscious, athletically competitive town. The amount of time one spends on the slopes or on the river is worn like a badge. These rugged people are real mountain killers, seeking out another peak to check off their list. It seems that every month there is an opportunity to run around town with others to celebrate, in the most basic form, your individual athleticism alongside others in the community. It's fabulous, really. For the athletic. So what if you aren't athletic?
I'm not a runner. I ran as a kid, of course. I ran break-necking around the brick corner of my childhood home, feeling wind on my face from my own speed, to reach the Oak tree in the front yard and touch 'home base' in a game of Ghost in the Graveyard. I can still hear the swishing of my brother's bell bottom jeans as he chased me. It was fun and I smiled when I ran then. I remember that sense of wild freedom with each stride that propelled me forward. And I ran at school. I ran a teeny bit of track and I ran the required laps when training for Varsity tennis, but by the time I reached my teens, I didn't love it. It never felt quite right.
I quit running when I was still a teenager after a bought with pneumonia and a diagnosis of severe allergies and asthma. Many more battles with pneumonia to follow, I never started running again and I don't really want to run now. I enjoy a walk or a hike instead and it's plenty for me (as long as I do it). My asthma is well managed since living in Montana and I know that I could probably take up running if I want. I'm surrounded by runners, a truly supportive bunch of athletes, by the way, so the possibility is on my mind regularly.
Regardless, I make a great spectator at Fun Runs. I cheer everyone on when they take off and I am ready, camera in hand, for their return (unless I'm keeping warm in a coffee shop and miss it, oops). Sure, I shake my head and say they must all be crazy (which I am not taking back yet). I complain about getting up early on a Saturday or going out in the cold, but watching the camaraderie is a treat. It's inspiring even without running, especially when they are fundraisers.
It was flipping COLD for the the Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis, so cold that I declared my presence for the event was an indication of my true love to Bruce. Many people came out to show their support for the cause running for friends and loved ones. I'm really impressed by the people with arthritis who run, too. Right on! (I learned a lot about Arthritis because of this Run.)
Runners are given bells to tie to their laces.
Others add more color and creativity to the event with silly costumes. I always appreciate dressing up in costume! Of course, you need some reindeer in a Jingle Bell Run.
It's Missoula so dogs are often welcome, even at a run. (I saw four inside the Ace Hardware yesterday.) Proper doggie attire required for a Run, of course!
A man with arthritis walked his arthritic horse in this Run which I thought was pretty sweet.
|Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis, Missoula, 2012|
My favorite Run to watch in Missoula so far is the Annual Turkey Run on Thanksgiving. It's such a day of sloth and abundance in our culture that a big run brings some balance in perspective, even if I only walk around as an observer. It was a beautiful morning along the river for it this year with a dusting of snow.
Costumes abound in this Run, too.
And dogs, plus strollers and babies (for sure in the 3K, and I saw at least 3 strollers cross the line for the 8K, too.)
Yep, even a turkey! This one was pretty dang fast, too.
I had my eye on number 496.
So even though I do not run, I have decided that I like Fun Runs. The sight of Marathons freak me out. People lurching, collapsing, and limping their way across the finish line illustrates how seriously intense a Marathon is. A few naturals reach the end like a gazelle making it look easy, but most runners in a Marathon look like they are miserable and in pain. Way more people are smiling in a Run.
My take away message to date?
A Marathon is for maniacs, but a Run really does rhyme with Fun.
Whenever you might visit Missoula, I would bet there's a Run happening. And there is of course, the Missoula Marathon in the summer (click here for more information).