SCOTTSBLUFF — At 68, California runner Sharlet Gilbert said she’s been running as long as she can remember. For the first time this fall, she plans to run in the Monument Marathon.
A California native, Gilbert now lives in Richmond, in the Oakland/San Francisco area. But her roots go back to western Nebraska.
Wes and Hattie (Weil) Lackey arrived here from Canada and homesteaded in the Scottsbluff/Gering area in the late 1800s. Their son, Burl Lackey, was Sharlet’s father.
“My father was raised in Scottsbluff and graduated from high school there,” she said. “He was in drafting class and drew the seating for the Scottsbluff High School auditorium.”
Although a number of cousins still live in the local area, Gilbert’s father moved to California after serving in World War II.
“My mother used to say I liked to run as soon as I could walk,” Gilbert said. “Running events weren’t offered in the schools when I attended, so I started road racing about 40 years ago. I feel a lot of freedom and joy when I run. It’s a lifestyle I’ve chosen.”
Gilbert has run in more than 50 marathons, but also runs in other events, including cross country and track. She admits that marathons are her favorite.
Coming back to her roots is exciting for her as she has signed up to run the full marathon on Sept. 28.
“When he was young, my father played around the monument and saw the Oregon Trail tracks,” she said. “And with the monument celebrating its 100th anniversary, I knew this is was something I had to do. The area has been such a huge part of my father’s family, so in a way this will be an emotional run for me.”
In 1984, Gilbert qualified for the first women’s Olympic trials marathon. She also ran in the Sea of Galilee Marathon in Israel and in Australia.
“I don’t travel much so most of my races are in the U.S., especially in California,” she said. “My mother is from Minnesota, so I’ve done a number of runs there. And I competed six times in the Boston Marathon and five in the New York Marathon.”
Title sponsor Platte Valley Companies will be joined by Western Nebraska Community College and Star-Herald to stage the annual event. This year, they’re also partnering with Scotts Bluff National Monument, which observes its 100th anniversary this year.
Now in its eighth year, the Monument Marathon, scheduled for Sept. 28, already has runners signed up from Maine, Wisconsin, Hawaii, Tennessee, and of course, California. To accommodate a wide variety of runners, full marathon, half-marathon and 5K distances are available.
For competitive runners, the marathon and half-marathon are sanctioned and certified by the USA Track and Field Association.
To register for the Monument Marathon, visit monumentmarathon.com. Runners are encouraged to register now, as registration prices increase June 1. Participants can also follow announcements and other activity on the Monument Marathon Facebook page.
Unlike many marathons with large corporate sponsors, the Monument Marathon was established for the purpose of providing scholarships to Western Nebraska Community College for students in need.