MISSOULA - When race organizers cancelled the 2020 Missoula Marathon, racers were given the option to receive a partial refund, defer to next year, run the race virtually, or donate the entry fee.
About 2,300 racers decided to defer for next year's race that is scheduled for the last weekend of June 2021, and 900 people decided to run the marathon length and record it virtually all over the world.
In March when organizers decided to cancel, they had over 3,000 people registered and were anticipating their biggest year yet, but ultimately they decided cancelling was the best choice.
"With the things we've seen with the virus continuing it's march throughout the country including Montana, we realized we clearly made the right choice, but it didn't make it any less difficult to pull the plug when we did," said Tony Banovich, race director.
When race organizers decided to offer the donation option, they anticipated receiving maybe around $10,000 to use to support the local community. However they were surprised to count $23,000 which they have decided to donate $1,000 to Hellgate, Sentinel, and Big Sky High School cross country teams, $5,000 to the food bank, $5,000 to youth homes, and also donate to other local charities.
"We've heard lots of bad stories lately, there's lots of down things in the world, this is one of those endearing uplifting stories that shows you the great value of people and how generous their hearts are, and that they're willing to give back their money to allow us to go out and help others," said Banovich.