Each week we interview members of our community to learn how the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted their lives, and how they are adapting in these challenging times. Our quarantine interviewees are healthcare workers, small business owners, students, parents, service industry employees, and, of course, runners. We hope that by sharing the stories of our neighbors we can find inspiration, solidarity, and connection as a community in the coming weeks and months. Please enjoy! 

For the sixth installment of the series we catch up with Ian Carlson. Ian recently ran a marathon around the streets of Missoula to fill the void of not being able to run the Boston marathon this spring, which he had qualified and registered for. Read on to learn more about Ian’s experience running his own personal Boston Marathon in Missoula, and other ways he is adapting during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Ian during his Boston Marathon in Missoula with some socially distanced spectators


First off, how long have you lived in Missoula?

46 years. I was born and raised here.

What do you do for work and has it been affected by the COVID-19 crisis?

I am a software engineer for Textron Systems. Aside from our team shifting work from our local office to home, not a whole lot has changed.  I have been spending some additional time getting the proper safety protocols and equipment in place so that when we do get the go ahead to resume working from the local office, we will be ready. I do have to say I have taken a liking to the many virtual happy hours with my friends and family. We have certainly found fun and interesting ways to stay connected.

You were signed up for the Boston Marathon this year, but it was postponed due to COVID-19. We are sorry to hear that. Would this have been your first Boston Marathon?

Yea, I am still planning on running the actual Boston course this September 14th if things settle down by then.

We heard that you decided to still run a marathon last weekend here in Missoula on the original Boston Marathon date. Congrats! In a few sentences tell us how it went.

Overall the race was great! The weather was beautiful, and a perfect starting temperature at 39 degrees. I would not have minded a little cloud cover to keep thing cool, but instead I got beautiful spring sunshine. I would have liked to have been a bit faster overall, but seeing all my friends around the course more than made up for it. Don’t worry they all practiced expert level social distancing!

Did you create a fun route or do loops in a certain area?

One of my overall goals was to run by as many of my running peeps houses to maximize the fun. The course ended up with a couple out and backs, but overall it looped around the valley quite nicely. I think it looks sort of like a chicken eating a worm with a TV antenna on its head

Did you have support from friends or family?

I received way more support than I could have ever dreamed of. There were a lot of great signs, beautiful smiles, and serious cowbell during my race. I let all my friends and family know when I was planning on running by their houses to limit any waiting time, and sure enough they were all out there cheering me on. You may have seen them scattered all throughout Missoula, and at first glance you might have even mistaken them for protesters, but with the craziest signs and cowbell. Many even managed to track me around town and ambush me in the most unexpected places. This was the best surprise of all. I have to give a big shout out to my wife Sara as she made sure everyone knew where they all could cheer me on, and organized several surprise locations. They certainly kept my spirits up! Favorite sign “Mortuary Ahead… Look Alive”.

Now that you’ve run the marathon what are you doing to maintain motivation? Do you have any other fun goals on the horizon?

With warmer temps coming and the deeper trails finally clearing up I will be heading out in the mountains a bit more. I suppose my big goal for the year is to stay trained and get some hill strength so I can crush the Hootenanny in October. Of course, Boston will be on my mind all year as well.

Other than running, are there other ways you are investing in your physical or mental health right now?

I should probably do more in this area. I have been trying to keep in touch with friends and family through virtual means as much as possible.

What are some of the largest ways that the COVID crisis has changed your life in recent weeks? 

I can’t say it’s changed my life all that much aside from the social distancing that we all must endure. I guess every day I am looking to discover what has changed from the days before.

Are there any silver linings or positive moments you have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic you would like to share?

I am well fed both physically and mentally. I am amazed on how well all my kids are stepping up and helping each other out. They have been just awesome! My daily commute is down to 30 seconds, 5 seconds if I run.

Where are you finding inspiration right now? (books, music, podcasts, people, etc.)

Friends on Strava! Just being able to see people are still at it, cranking out fast miles, keeps me going. Audio books, I always have a book loaded up on my phone for the longer runs as well.

How are you connecting with others during quarantine and social distancing?

Lots of virtual happy hours and games.

Do you have a favorite place to run in Missoula?

I always love running though and around the UM campus, and along the river although it’s been a bit busy in some sections lately.

What does the Missoula running community mean to you in a time like this?

They are a generous and friendly bunch! I can’t say enough on how their smiling faces lift me up when I see them on the trails and roads. I love the races, and the beautifully maintained trails we get to enjoy. More than anything they feed me challenges I can take on so I am not focused on things I can’t change. 

We enjoyed getting to hear from Ian and hope you did too! If you think this interview would add value to someone in your life, please consider forwarding this email to them.

Also, if you are enjoying the Quarantine Q&A series, or have a question you would like us to ask our interviewees, let us know! Email Mike@runnersedgemt.com.

This edition of the Quarantine Q&A is brought to you by Sapphire Physical Therapy. Thank you Sapphire for supporting and celebrating these community stories!