Planning has begun for the 2020 Platte Valley Companies Monument Marathon, scheduled for Sept. 26 at 7:30 a.m. With the current global health pandemic, the race will likely look different than in previous years, but the Monument Marathon Steering Committee feels confident that they can put on another quality event in spite of the challenges.
The Platte Valley Companies Monument Marathon is the largest annual fundraiser for the WNCC Foundation which supports students, programs, and facilities at WNCC. In its nine years, the Monument Marathon has raised nearly $400,000 for scholarships and program support for WNCC students.
This year the marathon has had unique challenges in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Marathon organizers are working with experts to follow directed health measures and create a safety plan for the expo and race day.
“Monument Marathon organizers have consulted with Unified Command for the current event guidance to ensure increased safety and precautions are being planned and implemented for all participants and volunteers,” Kim Engel, Director of Panhandle Public Health District said. “We commend their current plan for wearing of masks at appropriate times, social distancing, frequent handwashing/sanitizing, and monitoring symptoms. We will stay in communication regarding updates as the September event draws near. It will take the careful decisions and practices from all of us to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Although similar events across the country are being cancelled, Zac Karpf, COO of Platte Valley Companies, said it’s nice to see the race moving forward. Platte Valley Companies has been the title sponsor of the Marathon for all nine years. “It’s a great event for our community and our region,” Karpf said at Wednesday’s press conference. “Not just the natural beauty, but also being a challenge for our runners. It brings together hundreds of volunteers year after year. There are a lot of volunteers that have been there since the beginning so it’s exciting to see that support for the full and half-marathon participants.
“The race might look a little different this year, with people standing a little further apart than normal and we’ll have some masks in place for certain volunteers. We want to make sure that we have a very safe event for both our participants and our volunteers. We’re glad that we can sponsor an event for such a worthy cause, the WNCC Foundation.”
Monument Marathon sponsors are recognized for their support of the marathon on the marathon website, in social media and marketing, and they also receive discounted race registrations for their employees. Many levels of sponsorship and in-kind donations are available, and businesses that are interested in sponsorship can contact the Western Nebraska Community College Foundation.
Joe Margheim, co-owner of Flyover Brewing Company in downtown Scottsbluff is one local community member that has taken advantage of both the sponsorship and running opportunities. Flyover Brewing Company is entering its third year as a sponsor of the race and Margheim has ran both the full and half-marathon in the past. He plans to register to race again this year, but is undecided on which event. “I’m excited about having something to train for and a goal,” he said. “The course is beautiful and the staff and volunteers that come out for support and provide drinks are amazing. I’m looking forward to it again this year.”
Margheim was one of three panelists featured at the press conference. Other panelists included Caralee Turnidge, who ran her first half marathon at 2019’s Monument Marathon, and Linda Guzman-Gonzales, a Western Community College Area Board of Governor that has participated in the Monument Marathon 5K all four years and plans to continue the tradition in 2020.
“This race just has such a great set-up,” Turnidge said. “It’s run extremely well. The people are so nice and the race is really for everybody. There’s a lot of different levels of people running, that’s what I liked most about it last year.”
Guzman-Gonzales enjoys the 5K because she gets to see the fun part of the marathon.”There are people that aren’t serious runners and we all just have fun walking, running, or jogging,” she said. “There are people dressed up in costumes, it’s the fun part of the marathon and everyone can get involved in that.”
The 2019 Monument Marathon attracted 536 runners from across the country including New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, and many more. The ages of participants ranged from 8-years-old to 79.
The event continues to draw participants from all over for a first-class, small-town friendly race experience. Runners experience incredible support on race day from nearly 300 volunteers: medical personnel, CERT, law enforcement, course marshals, aid stations, bike marshals, Race Crew, Steering Committee, and cheer stations along the course. Registrations for the 2020 race have come from across Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Florida, Virginia, Washington Oregon, Maryland, Arizona, and many others.
Although registration numbers are slightly down this year due to the coronavirus, Jennifer Reisig, WNCC Foundation Executive Director and Monument Marathon Race Director expects around 300-350 participants for the September event. Nearly 150 participants have already registered. “Our race attracts runners from around the country and is a great opportunity to highlight the beauty and friendliness of our region. It is important for runners to know that we are putting measures in to keep them safe and for our volunteers and community to know we are protecting their health as well,” Reisig said.
The Platte Valley Companies Monument Marathon and Half Marathon are sanctioned and certified by the USA Track and Field Association. Registration information, caps, course videos, FAQs, and more are available online. Participants can also follow marathon announcements and other activity on Facebook at facebook.com/monumentmarathon.
Like runners and walkers, volunteers can also sign up for the event at the Platte Valley Companies Monument Marathon website, monumentmarathon.com. Runners are encouraged to register soon.
In addition to Platte Valley Companies, some of the major sponsors include Regional West as the finish line sponsor, Kelley Bean as the timing sponsor, Box Butte General Hospital as the full starting line sponsor, BNSF as the 5K sponsor, Scotts Bluff Area Visitors Bureau as the regional marketing sponsor, and Flyover Brewing Company as the After Party Sponsor.
In conjunction with the marathon, organizers are hosting a health expo on September 25 at the Gering Civic Center. With the help of local vendors, the expo showcases some of the great products available in our Wyo-braska region.
For more information, contact Jennifer Reisig, WNCC Foundation Executive Director, 308-630-6551 or firstname.lastname@example.org.