The 44th annual YMCA Riverbank Run on Saturday drew nearly 2,000 participants for the 10k, 5k, the one-mile run and the Trifecta, for those who chose to run all three races.

Race Director Keri McHugh said 2,000 was the goal for this event.

" We have a lot of race-day registrations, people who walk up and register on the day of the race," McHugh said. "The 5k is typically our biggest race, we usually have over 1,000 people for that one."

All the monies raised from registrations goes to fund YMCA programs throughout the year.

"It all stays right here in Missoula at the 'Y', and it goes for scholarships for camps, swimming lessons, Special Olympics, and we also allow for membership sponsorships, so families can get active and healthy year-round."

One participant in the 10k had never raced in the Riverbank Run before, KPAX-TV's Jill Valley.

"I'm not necessarily prepared for it, but how could I miss out on the Riverbank Run?", Valley asked. "It's an institution and it's so much fun and I think downtown Missoula's gonna rock today.I may never finish first, but at least I'm out here instead of sitting on the couch eating pancakes! I'm out here in the sunshine, hanging out with Missoula, so this is a good thing."

Missoula Mayor John Engen resumed his traditional duty of firing the starting gun for the 10k race at 9:00 a.m.

"This is another one of these great Missoula days," Engen said. "People are getting together and celebrating activity, active lifestyles and having fun supporting the YMCA, a great family organization."

KGVO News asked Engen if any further improvements could be made to the downtown area.

"Well, there's a building right down the street that I hope we can improve here in relatively short order," Engen said, referring to the Missoula Mercantile building, currently at the center of a controversy over whether to restore the historic old building, or demolish it to make way for a proposed $30 million hotel project.

"I think we're going to get somewhere with it soon, to get some life back on the corner of Higgins and Front would be a pretty marvelous thing," he said. "The Historic Preservation Commission is still doing its thing and the process is working, and I think the process will work."

The Missoulian reports that husband and wife Colin and Katrina Fehr won the 10k races on Saturday.

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