Dover's Jess Manning will be the first Delawarean to represent the state in the upcoming Missoula Marathon.

With the Missoula Marathon set to be run Sunday, July 11, in Missoula, Mont., one local runner is finishing his training, packing his things and hopping a flight to the northwest.
Dover’s Jess Manning will be the first Delawarean to participate in the Missoula race, which features runners from all of the other 49 states in the country.

With a few weeks to go before Manning heads to Montana, he sat down with the Dover Post to talk about how he found out about the race, what makes it so appealing and what he gets out of long-distance running.

Q How did the idea of running in the Missoula Marathon come about?
A My mother-in-law put me on to the initial concept. She sent me a text that said some event in some state was looking for a runner from Delaware. That sort of piqued my interest. So I found out that Missoula was voted the country’s most popular marathon by “Runners World” magazine, and they wanted runners from all 50 states.

Q So what steps did you take to get yourself into the marathon from there?
A Well, apparently they’ve never had a Delaware runner before and it said if someone signed up they’d give them free registration and some other stuff. So I sent in an inquiry and it was kind of old at that point, so I was sure someone had jumped on it. Within four or five hours, though, I started getting contacted, congratulating me on being the first Delawarean they’d ever had. A hotel out there volunteered to pick me up for free and I get transportation to and from the airport for free. The funny thing is, and I kind of chuckled when I thought about this, I feel bad for the person coming from Hawaii or Rhode Island, because they’re small, too.

Q So it must be pretty cool to be the first runner from Delaware in this marathon, right?
A It’s funny because being the first was not ever my intention. I thought it was a shame that we were going to go down as the one state without a representative. For me, though, it wasn’t even about giving Delaware the upper hand or the credit so much as I wanted to make sure we weren’t the one that didn’t have anybody.

Q But you have to be excited you’re getting to run a marathon out in Montana.
A I am. I had a goal I set a few years back that I wanted to run one in every state. It’s called the 50-50 club and you have to have 10 runs in different states to even be recognized as a member. I’ve been picking away at popular ones and local ones, and knew the western states were going to be the challenging ones. But I’m really excited for a chance to knock off Montana, which will actually be my 10th. And this isn’t just some random one. This is a really, really nice one.

Q Mentally, what do you get out of running a marathon?
A The first couple I ran was really about the physical aspect of surviving the race. Now that I’ve done the number that I have it allows me to enjoy them more. Depending on the pace you’re running, you can just enjoy it, and sort of disconnect with the outside world and connect with yourself. Running has gotten me through wonderful times and challenging times. And if I can find that and enjoy that on a 5-mile loop in the city, you better believe I can find it in the beautiful scenery I’ll be in the middle of in Missoula.

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