The Platte Valley Companies Monument Marathon, now celebrating its ninth anniversary, is still set for Sept. 26, a sign of stability during a time when so much of the world has dramatically changed.
Platte Valley Companies sponsored the marathon not only as a tourism-related event to showcase the area, but also to raise funds for scholarships at Western Nebraska Community College (WNCC).
“The marathon will run as usual, so we’re not expecting any changes,” Race Director Jennifer Reisig said. “It’s an outdoor run in a rural area, so we don’t see any problems with social distancing. But we’re ready to implement any coronavirus safety measures if needed.”
Reisig said they’ve received some early registrations from runners across the nation. Many of them are cautious about booking travel at the current time because they’re not sure what things will look like in September.
In past years, registration refunds weren’t issued if a runner had to cancel.
“That concern led us to update our registration policy,” Reisig said. “Now we’re offering full refunds if we have to cancel the event due to the pandemic. That’s something we haven’t done before because we want runners to feel confident when they register.”
In 2019, the Monument Marathon recorded its second highest participant number of 536 runners. They’ve come from states across the country and even some runners from overseas.
Judging from runner comments after the marathon, they were impressed with how an event in a small area is organized with the same professionalism as much larger races, Reisig said. Plus, many of them were so taken with the beautiful scenery; they planned to return with their families to visit.
“Everything is so different this year because of the coronavirus, so it’s hard to tell how many runners will end up registering,” Reisig said. “We’re hoping to break the record, but it’s more important to do a great job of organizing the event and having a quality race.”
Another reason the Platte Valley Companies Monument Marathon has been so successful is the large number of volunteers who turn out to help wherever needed.
“We have volunteer opportunities all over the place,” Reisig said. “They can go to our website at monumentmarathon.com and go to the volunteer section to sign up.”
Volunteers can help as bike and course marshals, parking attendants, cleaning up the course and a lot of other areas.
In addition to serving as face Director, Reisig is the Foundation Director at WNCC and said support from the community has always been strong.
“We know our students are really going to need the scholarship support this year,” she said. “Our students are being affected by the COVID-19 crisis like everyone else. This is our largest fundraising event in support of scholarships at the college, so that’s why we want to make this year a big success.”
Since the marathon first ran eight years ago, more than $350,000 has been raised to help students in need of financial help to continue their education.
With so many changes in society caused by COVID-19, Reisig thinks we all need something to look forward to his fall.
“We’ve all spent a lot of time not being around people,” she said. “We’re ready to get back to a sense of normalcy again. All of us working on planning the marathon are really looking forward to it.”