It’s official. After meeting via teleconference on June 30, the Platte Valley Companies Monument Marathon steering committee announced the marathon will take place as scheduled on Saturday, Sept. 26.
“Our biggest concern was the coronavirus situation,” committee member Tom Holyoke said. “We submitted a plan to Panhandle Public Health District (PPHD) outlining the entire race and how we would keep social distancing in mind.”
Some parts would require participants to wear face masks, such as transportation to the Wildcat Hills for the full marathon, the marathon expo the previous day, as well as the start and finish lines. If necessary, a staggered start will be implemented.
“That plan was accepted by the committee and health district authorities,” Holyoke said. “Now ,it’s just a question of whether people will pick up that information. We hope they’ll be excited about the opportunity to run because so many races around the country have been canceled.”
He added that by the end of September, things should be quieted down even more. Still, marathon officials will continue to monitor conditions daily in the COVID-19 pandemic for any changes that may occur.
Now in its ninth year, the Monument Marathon would usually attract runners from across America, Canada and other countries. But with required 14-day quarantine for anyone coming from another country, this year’s marathon field will be strictly a U.S. event.
No international registrations have been received so far and none are expected for the 2020 run.
Race Director Jennifer Reisig said the decision to go ahead with the marathon was based on several factors.
The number of runner registrations was one factor. Knowing the race could proceed with safety in mind was another. The third was the amount of support from the community, sponsors and volunteers.
“As of now, we’re at about 80% the number of registrations we normally have, so now we’re at about 200 registrations,” Reisig said. “We’re pleased with that number but still have to get some more in the next three months.”
She said PPHD has issued a statement saying they’re confident with the precautions taken by marathon officials to assure the health and safety of everyone involved.
As for sponsor and community support for the marathon, it’s as strong as ever.
“We’re at the same sponsorship level we were last year,” Reisig said. “We’re so thankful to all our sponsors because without them, we couldn’t make this happen.”
Volunteer support is also high. So far about 100 volunteers have signed up to help with the numerous tasks that make the marathon run. About 300 will be needed, but there’s still time to get registered.
“A lot of people in the community have been involved in this race from the beginning,” Reisig said. “They’re excited the marathon is still going to happen.”
The Monument Marathon, with full marathon, half-marathon and 5K distances, is the primary fundraiser for the Western Nebraska Community College Foundation.
Reisig also serves as the foundation director and said that so far, almost $450,000 have been raised to provide scholarship opportunities for students in need.
“I’d like to encourage anyone who hasn’t yet entered a running event to give it a try,” she said. “The 5K is a great distance for starters. And we all need something to do locally at a time when people aren’t traveling as much.”