Michael, pictured on the left after a recent race, is a familiar face at many of the local road and trail races. The past year or two he has been on a quest to break three hours in the marathon and at the 2017 Missoula Marathon he managed to crush that barrier by running a 2:58:32. We caught up with Michael to learn a bit more about him and how he got himself across that barrier. 

Name:  Michael LaForest

Age:  36 years

Hometown:  Missoula, born and raised.

How did you get started running? I started running in 1996 as a Sentinel Spartan. I ran cross country and track, 1600 and 3200, all four years and was captain of my cross country and track team my senior year.

What do you enjoy most about running? It relieves stress and it’s therapeutic. It makes me feel good about myself.

Where is your favorite place to run around town? I like the Rattlesnake a lot. I also like to run out by Big Sky High School. I do a loop out towards Blue Mountain, then to 3rd Street, back to Fort Missoula and then back to my house.

What was the Missoula Marathon like for you this year? It was a great experience. There was a strong sense of community. I had other runners to help me maintain a steady pace. I think I ran a smart race for once in my life!

What did it feel like to break three hours? I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself, but in this race I really tried to let go and just relax. I guess it paid off.

In some ways it’s hard to believe that I was able to break three hours. In September 2016, I was hit by a a car while I was riding my bike. My shoulder and neck were hurt. I ran the Bozeman Marathon a few days later and was really bothered by these injuries. I pushed through anyway because it was 9/11. As an Iraq War veteran, it was important to me to participate on Patriots Day.

After that I was afraid I would have to give up running. I am so grateful to the team at Sapphire Physical Therapy for helping me through this. They worked on my injuries and renewed my confidence to return to running. With their help I felt well enough mentally and physically to prepare for the Missoula Marathon in 2017.

What’s next for you in the running world?  For now I’m just enjoying this. I may run the Bozeman Marathon again this year.  I hope that my story can inspire people to stick with their goals even though they are hurt.

Congratulations Michael and good luck in your next races!