Montana Marathon organizers focus on runner safety, volunteers

2013-09-11T13:41:00Z 2013-09-11T22:16:13Z Montana Marathon organizers focus on runner safety, volunteersBy ZACH BENOIT zbenoit@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

When the first runners take off from Molt on Sunday morning for the annual Montana Marathon, there are a few things race organizers want the public to know.

"We want to emphasize two things," said Calley Thompson, who helped organize this year's race. "First is runner safety and two how absolutely vital volunteers are for what we do."

The marathon course takes runners on a completely paved route from Molt west of Billings and mostly through residential neighborhoods, ending at Pioneer Park.

Thompson said that it's important that everybody involved, from spectators to runners to volunteers, be aware of the course. She also said people need to take buses hired for the marathon to the start sites instead of driving there in order to avoid congestion at the sites and on the course.

"We’re really, really, really encouraging people to take the buses," she said.

No changes have been made to the course this year, although Thompson said that due to construction on Rimrock Road near Zimmerman trail, traffic is more likely to be funneled toward the race area.

That makes using the buses especially important because it keeps racers from having to add extra traffic to the area.

"Please take the bus, please stay off that part of the road," Thompson said. "There is a bus to the start of every race."

She also emphasized the importance of volunteers to the race, who do everything from making sure runners are ready to go to handing out water along the route.

The marathon requires more than 200 volunteers throughout the day. Thompson said that many of them have volunteered for several years and that local high school groups provide lots of people and help each year.

"We get amazing volunteers returning every year," she said. "If we didn't have them we wouldn't pull it off."

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