Planning has begun for the 10th annual Platte Valley Companies Monument Marathon, scheduled for Sept. 25. The race will again have a full marathon, half marathon, and 5K run/walk, and this year’s organizers are adding a new half marathon relay race. The relay will follow the same half marathon course around the Scotts Bluff National Monument, but it will begin 30 minutes later and consist of three 4-5 mile sections each run by a different person.
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 first nine years, the Monument Marathon raised nearly $450,000 in support of student scholarships at WNCC.
As the title sponsor, Platte Valley Companies has pledged an additional $10,000 to the 10-year anniversary race to increase the prize money for this year’s runners without taking away any of the proceeds that go to student scholarships.
“Platte Valley Companies has committed to raise another $10,000 in race awards,” Kosman, PVC Director and Chairman said. “We are hoping that around the world, those who like to race will come to western Nebraska because our race events will have a larger purse for them to enjoy.”
Last year the Monument Marathon faced the challenges of 2020, but with the help of expert advice from Panhandle Public Health District (PPHD) and the adaptive response of safety personnel, community volunteers, runners, and sponsors, the event was a success.
“The moment I knew we would be ok was when our title sponsor Platte Valley Companies told us that we had their support no matter what,” Race Director and WNCC Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Reisig said. “They gave us the confidence to plan for an in person race in the middle of a pandemic and to keep going no matter what challenges might come our way now or in the future. For the 10th year in a row, we say thank you to Platte Valley Companies and Hod Kosman for their support of WNCC, our students, and the entire community through the Monument Marathon.”
Last year’s marathon included 561 registered runners from 40 states. There are already nearly 120 registered runners for the 2021 race, including four that have ran every year since the event was created in 2012: Brett Gies, of Harrison; Kathy Rose, of Scottsbluff; John Seiler, of Gering; and Chris Sommerich, of Lincoln.
Each said that the scenery, race organization, and the purpose of the marathon has kept them coming back every year.
“I just love the Scottbluff and Gering community,” Sommerich said. “It was such a fantastic experience that first year and running it was so uplifting, with the people so wonderful and the scenery so gorgeous that I thought I want to come back and keep doing this. My friend from Colorado runs a lot of races there, and he says that the runners are treated better at the Monument Marathon than any other race he runs.”
Gies, who is a 1980 graduate of Nebraska Western College (now WNCC) is the superintendent at Sioux County Schools. He had never run a half marathon before the first Monument Marathon event, but quickly got hooked on the experience.
“That first year, I didn’t know what I was doing,” he said. “It was cold that year and windy and rainy, and I just had a cotton hoodie that got rained on, I swear there was an extra 10 pounds that I was carrying in that race so it taught me a good lesson. But it got me hooked on half marathons, I try to run four to six each year and this is by far the best one.”
Rose said she keeps running year after year to keep up with her grandchildren and great grandchildren.
“I’m now a great grandmother and I love being able to get out and do things with my grandkids and great grandkids and have the energy for it,” Rose said. “Another aspect for me is the money that is raised goes to scholarships, I think that is the most awesome thing and to hear the testimonies of the students that are the recipients of that is so fun.”
Seiler said that if anyone is considering running in this year’s race, just to get outside and do it, and you’ll thank yourself later for it.
“When I encourage people to run and walk to get started, I say just go 10 minutes out from your house and come back,” Seiler said. “Don’t think of it as distance, think of it as minutes, and then do it one day after another. Then you can set bigger goals and it feels good to do it. You don’t always feel good while you’re out there but you do when you get done and your body thanks you for it.”
In addition to Platte Valley Companies as the Title Sponsor, some of the major sponsors include Regional West (Finish Line Sponsor), Nebraska Chiropractic Physician’s Association (Healthcare Sponsor), Kelley Bean Company (Timing Sponsor), Box Butte General Hospital (Full Starting Line Sponsor), Gering Keno (Half Starting Line Sponsor), Vistabeam (Expo Sponsor), and Flyover Brewing Company (After Party Sponsor).
The Platte Valley Companies Monument Marathon and Half Marathon are sanctioned and certified by the USA Track and Field Association making this race a Boston Marathon qualifying race. Registration information, FAQs, and more are available online at www.monumentmarathon.com. Participants can also follow marathon announcements and other activity on Facebook at facebook.com/monumentmarathon.