Mountain High 

People from all over the country/world descend on Missoula for one precious morning in July to run either 13 or 26 miles, on purpose, and all before I've even gotten up in the morning. Over 450 "morning people" have already registered and have doubtless spent months training for the big event. The race has been gaining in popularity over the last couple of years and it's easy to see why. Anyone who's seen Forrest Gump knows the majesty of running next to a mountain, and Runner's World voted ours as the best overall marathon in the country in 2010, which makes me really proud for our city! I've never even heard of Boston. I doubt if you asked a random person on the street that they could even find this obscure, stupid place on a map.

Last year, I remember finally making my way downtown around noon the morning of the race, and I don't know what I expected to see—a group of fresh faces with numbered torsos buzzing by me on Higgins Avenue, maybe—but of course the race was long over. Runners and their families were by then already taking up every table at the Catalyst, glowing from their accomplishments. Just to belabor the early morning aspect a little more: runners of the full marathon begin the race at 6 AM in Frenchtown and end in downtown Missoula. Last year's winner, hometown hero Kiefer Hahn broke records by finishing the race in around 2 and a half hours. Hahn got up before the sun and ran 26 miles by 8:30 in the morning, when I was still in bed dreaming about a Catalyst breakfast that would never happen. Don't be like me. Get out there and make something of yourself.

The Missoula Marathon & Half Marathon begins at 5 AM for walkers, 6 AM for allothers at Frenchtown. Half Marathon runners meet 6 AM at Blue Mountain Rd. For complete event details, check out runwildmissoula.com.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

THURSDAY JULY 7

Your mission, if you choose to accept it: Rock Climbing and Rappelling with City Life community Center at The Heap at Lolo Pass. It's technical. You'll be harnessed and belayed, ages 13-18, $15 for members only, 7:30 AM–6 PM, Register at 1515 Fairview Ave. or citylifemt.com. Call 532-1558.

Put on your explorer cap during the Yellowstone Boat Float, an event that retraces the path of the Lewis & Clark Expedition from Livingston to Laurel, with two overnight stops in between. Load up your flotilla by calling 222-4414.

Reggae, hip hop, and a celebration of the Flathead river system coalesce for Boatman's Bash/Reggae 4 the River event, featuring Real Life Rockaz, 9 PM at Stonefly Lounge, 10154 Hwy 2 in Coram, $3.

FRIDAY JULY 8

Mechanical bulls are being re-animated with flesh and ridden by cowboys in Darby for the 3rd Annual Elite Bull Riding competition, July 8–9 at the Rodeo Arena grounds on Hwy 93 N, beginning at 3 PM. This year they're adding a full day of Montana music called Rockin' in the Root, featuring Derailed, Mae'd with a Kiss, Northern Lights and Mad Anthony. Email katy@fromrivertoridge.com or call 370-8084. $8 adults/$5 ages 7–14/free for kids under 6.

SATURDAY JULY 9

Give your jittery legs something to do during The Glacier Challenge, a six leg race in Whitefish that's 50 miles in length and features canoeing, road biking, mountain biking and kayaking, plus 4k and 10k runs. Get in on the action at theglacierchallenge.com.

If you're anything like me, a Marathon is quite a distance. Why not try the Hellgate Village 5k instead, which meeets 5 PM at Caras Park. Visit runwildmissoula.com for all the details.

Reggae, hip hop, and a celebration of the Flathead river system coalesce for Boatman's Bash/Reggae 4 the River event, featuring Real Life Rockaz, 9 PM at Stonefly Lounge, 10154 Hwy 2 in Coram, $3.

Stars, how do they work? Find out at the Lone Pine State Park's Star Gazers 101 Workshop, 9 PM to 1 AM, starting at the visitor's center and then moving indoors to the telescopes, 300 Lone Pine Rd in Kalispell, $5.

SUNDAY JULY 10

Push your soles to victory while taking in 26.2 miles of beautiful scenery, or opting for the less intense half-marathon, during the fourth annual Missoula Marathon—which in 2010 was named "Best Overall Marathon" by readers of Runner's World. Pound the pavement at missoulamarathon.org.

Push those pedals in high terrain during Adventure Cycling's Cycle the Divide Mountain Bike Tour, a multi-day bike trip that departs from Whitefish and ends in Lincoln, and skirts you through the Swan Range on abandoned logging roads and single track trails, with a one-day stop in Seeley Lake for fun on the water. Roll to adventurecycling.org for details.

WEDNESDAY JULY 13

In my experience, teens love salmon, lakes and hotdogs, so why not send yours to a day of fun at Salmon Lake with City Life Community Center, with activities like a fire roast, tubing, water skiing (brisk!) and more, ages 13–18 only, 7:30 AM to 7 PM, $40/$30 for members. Register at citylifemt.com or call 532-1558.

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