Following the need recertification and input from stakeholders, a handful of course modifications will be part of the 12th annual Platte Valley Companies Monument Marathon this year.
Those changes were among a variety of topics discussed in a news conference in Scottsbluff with organizers, sponsors and a panel of past and future participants Wednesday afternoon.
Race Coordinator and Western Nebraska Community College Foundation Director Jennifer Reisig said it’s a pleasure for her team to be a part of the event, and she thanked Platte Valley Companies and President Hod Kosman for increasing their contribution toward prize purses starting in 2020, which helps give the Monument Marathon something to offer everyone, from elite runners locally, regionally and around the world, to more casual runners seeking a shorter challenge.
Reisig told reporters as of the end of the month, 122 runners from 23 states across the U.S., and four other countries (Morroco, Kenya, Germany and the United Kingdom) had signed up, and she encouraged those seeking to run the 5k, half-marathon relay, half- or full-marathon to submit their registration ahead of Sept. 1, when the cost would increase.
The prior course certification for the full and half marathon from the USATF expired at the end of 2022, and given the need for a new 10-year recertification, Reisig said she spoke with former runners, sponsors, public and private entities on what they would like to see if the course was to change. Following that input, she said both races will start at the same locations as in the past, but the projected modifications for both will give more consistent support along each, showcase some new areas of the region and reduce opportunities for runner error on the course.
For full marathoners, there will be a slight out and back section around mile nine on Lockwood Road, and a loop beginning at the Gering Green House, through the neighborhood encompassing the Dome Rock Diamonds and Oregon Trail Park Stadium, back to D Street then Five Rocks Road. The course for the full and half will converge where half-marathoners turn onto the Canal Road, with additional changes from that point including remaining on Country Club Road onto the pathway between the Monument Shadows Golf Course and the National Monument. Also eliminated would be the zig-zag section that took runners through the Meadows, which Reisig said was among the top requests, as runners said it could cause some confusion at that point in the race, as well as potentially hampering momentum.
A retired world-class measuring expert from Fort Collins will be coming to the area in July to ensure the distances for each course meet the exact required distance as part of the new certification.
Reisig and the past participant panel further discussed how the event helped highlight beauty of the region, build tourism, and promote a healthy lifestyle, especially among local participants who have made up 30 to 40 percent of the field in any given year.
The annual event has had a significant impact for students at Western Nebraska Community College, raising funds for scholarships offered through the WNCC Foundation. Reisig said the event has raised $510,285 toward that end so far, including the $53,308 that was raised in 2022.
Monumentmarathon.com is the go-to source for runners, potential sponsors and those wanting to volunteer. Once the new course certifications are received, maps on the site will be updated with the official course routes showing the changes, as well as other features including aid stations.