Cool, clear morning delights Montana Marathon runners

No smoky skies. No steady rain. No high-prairie winds. No searing heat.

Conditions for running 26.2 miles from Molt to Pioneer Park in Billings don’t get much better.

The 21st annual Montana Marathon, which is a qualifying race for the Boston Marathon, was the main event of Sunday’s day of running and drew participants from around the U.S. The 2017 edition drew more entries from females (69) and males (59) than did the 2016 races (53 and 43).

But the most popular Sunday race was the half marathon, with 221 female entries and 91 male runners. The 10K drew 161 female runners and 51 male contestants.

Adding in the runners for the team relays and one-mile fun run for kids, about 800 people signed up for Sunday’s action, race officials said. Also enjoying the weather were dozens of volunteers placed along the route to direct traffic, serve up water and guide and protect runners.

School buses started loading up runners and walkers from Senior High at 4 a.m. to deliver them to the marathon start line. The Molt Community Center served as a gathering place as folks waited sleepily and a bit anxiously for their run to begin. Shuttles also took participants to the half marathon and 10K lines.

Frontrunner for best sign of the day? “Pain now, beer later. Go Gram!”

Top finishers:

Male: Jehremy Felig, Billings (2:57:53); Joel Marlette, Sacramento, Calif., (3:00:09)
Female: Lauren Zent, Billings (3:34:39); Brittney Uecker, Missoula, (3:37:29)

Half Marathon:
Male: Scott Skokos, Billings (1:27:23); Christopher Blomquist, Billings (1:28:15)
Female: Mary Owen, Billings (1:21:55); Chelsea Dana, Billings (1:22:26)

Male: Scott Sneddon, Billings (36:13); Mark Hovland, Billings (36:53)
Female: Mackenzie O’Dore, Billings (39:30); Amber Williams, Billings (42:13)

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