Jul 14, 2013 9:21 PM by Derek Buerkle - MTN Sports
MISSOULA - Another Missoula Marathon traveled the streets of the Garden City today, and just finishing the full race is a life-long goal for many. But as Derek Buerkle found out, this year's winners accomplished even more.
Nearly 5,000 people got ready for a run on a brisk Sunday morning as the 7th annual Missoula Marathon began with 1,500 of them in Frenchtown for the full 26.2 mile run.
Jason Delaney immediately sprinted to the front after the canon sounded, and he never let anyone catch him.
The Polson native, who ran at the University of Wyoming and just recently moved back to his old hometown, already had built a five minute lead nine miles into the race.
It was almost ten by the 19-mile mark and Delaney looked well on his way to crushing the course record.
He slowed down in the last few miles, but still made history as the 33-year old crossed the Higgins Avenue Bridge - and the finish line - 15 seconds ahead of Elliot Welder's old mark.
"I've been struggling with a couple injuries this Spring and Summer - struggling with a foot injury here the last couple weeks. I was just hoping to be able to go out there and put together as many 5:30 miles in a row as I could," Delaney told us.
The final strides reminded Delaney of a previous big disappointment in a big race, but this time the result of 2:26:10 left him smiling.
"A couple years ago in Boston I just barely missed the Olympic Trials standard by a few seconds. I remember racing that clock the exact same way - thinking I was going to make it, and then not quite getter there. But this time I managed to sneak under that goal," Delaney observed.
Elizabeth Paddock never built a huge margin over challengers Bryanna Gondeiro and Megan Williams on the lady's side. But she also never gave up the lead.
The family medicine doctor originally from upstate New York moved from Madison, Wisconsin to Missoula last fall, and immediately signed up for the marathon. She crossed the line in 3:04:13, and loved the view of the last few steps.
"It is amazing to see that finish line, and know that you're so close. And also to be first and know that banner is waiting for you. It was great. It was not my best race ever, but I felt pretty good, and it was a great crowd and a beautiful course - and I finished," Paddock told us.
The 7th annual Missoula Marathon is in the books. It was the biggest and the fastest that we have ever seen - and it will probably get bigger and faster next year.