The 12th annual Missoula Marathon gets started officially on Friday, when over 6,000 runners and walkers will descend on Missoula for an entire weekend of fun and fitness.

Run Wild Missoula Executive Director Tony Banovich said the weather should be ideal for the races on Saturday and Sunday.

“Temperatures look like the highs will be in the mid 80’s and the lows in the low 50’s at the start, so that makes for a super comfortable day,” said Banovich. “There’s no sign of wind and no sign of rain, so not just for runners but spectators it should be a spectacular weekend. We’re really looking forward to it.”

Banovich said the total by Saturday should be right at about 6,000 participants.

“We should be approaching 6,000 or just over 6,000 runners, and that’s a nice number for us,” he said. “It’s not the lowest number we’ve ever had, but it’s better than our last couple of years, and we’re expecting people from all over the world.”

Banovich said one of the nation's premiere female runners will be here for the event.

“We’ll have Deena Kastor in town, one of the premiere runners in the United States,” he said. “She won the bronze medal in the Olympics in Athens in 2004, and she’s the American marathon record holder and she’s won multiple national titles. She’ll be participating in Friday evening’s traditional Beer Run, as well as meeting and greeting runners at the 5k and Kids Fun Run finish lines. She’ll be talking a lot about the power of positive thinking in running as well as every aspect of life.”

The Missoula Marathon has become one of the nation's favorites over the past 12 years.

Race packet pickup is Friday from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. as well as Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the pavilion in Caras Park. The packet pick-up for the Kids Fun Run is Friday afternoon at Run Wild Missoula headquarters at The Runners Edge at 304 North Higgins.

Banovich said he wanted to thank all of the event sponsors, but welcomed a new sponsor in 2017.

“One of our great supporters for the past two years, and who will be our title sponsor next year is Consumer Direct Care Network, and we’re just thrilled that they’re here supporting the Missoula Marathon and the Missoula running community,” he said.

Townsquare Media’s KYSS-FM is the media sponsor of the 2018 Missoula Marathon.