View from the Back: State of the BOP

Run Wild Missoula’s Back of the Pack (BOP) program is celebrating its third anniversary this month, and it is growing stronger all the time!

Over 180 people have signed up to receive the monthly BOP Bulletin e-mail. (If you want to be on the list, contact me; see below for my e-mail address.)

We have distributed 150 bright green BOP bandannas free of charge, and ordered a second batch of bandannas featuring the BOP turtle and the new RWM logo.  We have also sold 50 green BOP t-shirts.  More are available online at (click the “shop” tab) or at the Runner’s Edge. Bandannas and t-shirts are intended to help slower runners and walkers find pace-mates at Run Wild Missoula races, beer runs, and breakfast runs.

We offer BOP social run/walk events on weekend afternoons/evenings at a different location every month.   We have met at a wide variety of parks, private homes, and a bowling alley, and some breweries.  Carol Drake has volunteered to coordinate monthly BOP socials for us, so if you have ideas please contact her directly or send a message to my e-mail (below) and I will forward.  BOP socials are announced in the BOP Bulletin and posted on the Run Wild Missoula website, Coming Events calendar.

RWM’s BOP and Galloway Training Programs share a Facebook Group:  Run Walk Run Wild Missoula.  Join the Group if you want to find running buddies, get reminders of events, encourage one another, and share tips and experiences with other BOPers.

Jennifer Rivera has started a new BOP group in the Bitterroot.  They have been meeting Sunday mornings at different locations around the Valley.  Jen uses the Facebook Group to announce each week’s run and also sends an e-mail to a list of folks who are not on Facebook.  To join her mailing list, send me a message (e-mail below) and I will forward it to Jen.

The BOP encourages slower runners and walkers to participate in all RWM races and social events.
* We work with race directors to offer BOP-friendly events that have generous course times, snacks that last, sweepers, and cheerleaders.
* We are providing a 3-mile map for each beer run as an alternative for those who don’t want to run 5 miles before social hour.
* We offer BOP greeters for beer runs and Saturday breakfast run when asked.

Finally, we followed up on Spring Mills’ suggestion of a Courage to Start award. Any RWM member can nominate another member who has overcome adversity to start or return to running or walking.  Instructions on how to nominate someone for this award is linked to every BOP Bulletin and will soon be posted on the RWM website.  The first five Courage-to-Start awardees, written up in the September newsletter, are:  Kevin Drake, Jody West, Shannie Miller, Julie Shawver, and Annie Kolattukudy.

I want to close by recognizing Anders Brooker and the Missoula Marathon steering committee.  They went out of their way to be BOP-friendly with a 7.5 hour marathon course time and re-design of the finish line that sustained a festive atmosphere on the Higgins Bridge.  All runner services (photos, timing, food) were fully staffed until the course closed.  This year we also had more than 20 people volunteer to be Missoula Marathon BOP cheerleaders, making a happy noise until the very end.

The Back of the Pack welcomes anyone who wants to spend at least some of their time in a casual, non-competitive running and walking community.  We don’t screen people to make sure they are slow enough, and we don’t kick people out if they get faster.  The BOP is an open and inclusive frame of mind, and everyone is welcome.

Pam Gardiner
Leader of the Back

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