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This is the most difficult post we’ve ever written.

We were shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the death of Tony Banovich, a luminary and one of our best friends—as well as one of the best people—in the running industry. You may not have known Tony personally, but you’ll likely know of or have run the perennially popular Missoula Marathon & Half Marathon in Montana, which under Tony’s leadership solidified its reputation as one of the most beloved marathons, big or small, in the United States. To those who know Missoula, it’s no surprise our RaceRaves audience voted it the best marathon & best half marathon in Montana in our Runners Choice Awards.

We first met Tony through our mutual membership in the non-profit industry organization Running USA, and over the past several years our love and respect for the man have only grown as we’ve come to appreciate the depths of his kindness, passion and humility. He would always sign his emails “See you on the roads, tracks and trails,” and we would always look forward to doing just that. In a sport with so many energetic and dedicated race directors who are in it for the right reasons (hint: it’s not the $$$), no one cares more for their event or works harder to see it succeed for every participant than did Tony.

When our co-founder Mike ran Missoula on a hot July day in 2017, Tony saw him struggling mightily as he approached mile 26 and immediately jumped in to run alongside, urging him on and inspiring one last surge to the finish. I mean, what race director DOES that?? Tony, that’s who.

The man had an enormous heart, the perverse irony being that it would be that same heart which would take him from us much too early. Tony had only recently learned of his need for a heart transplant due to progressive viral cardiomyopathy, but as always he remained upbeat and optimistic, and looked forward to getting back to doing what he loved—leading Run Wild Missoula and planning for the next Missoula Marathon. He’ll never have that chance, and the entire running community is left with a huge hole in its own heart that will be incredibly tough to fill.

We runners take care of our own, and so we hope you’ll help us celebrate Tony’s life & legacy with a donation to Run Wild Missoula in his honor, along with a few miles out on the roads of America in his memory.

Rest In Peace my friend, we look forward to seeing you on the roads, tracks and trails again one day. ❤️

(Photo: Run Wild Missoula and KPAX-TV)

Read more about Tony’s life and contributions to the Montana running community in the Missoulian.

Your turn – what do you think?