For some time, the Monument Marathon has been on the radar for professional marathon runner Bryan Morseman. This is the year he’s making the journey west.
Morseman lives in the small town of Bath in the Finger Lakes District of upstate New York. He’s run in 113 marathons across the country and in Bermuda, Barbados, Mexico and Canada. He’s won 70 of those events and finished in the top three in 30 of them.
He also helped represent Team USA in the 2016 50K World Championships in Doha, Qatar, where the team took the gold medal as he placed ninth overall.
“Before COVID-19 got started, I was looking for a marathon in September that could fill out my calendar,” Morseman said in a telephone interview from his home. “I’ve known about the Monument Marathon for a number of years but just wasn’t able to attend until now. I’ve never run a marathon in Nebraska.”
Morseman started his running career about halfway through the sixth grade after watching his older brother compete on their school’s cross country team. In 1996, he entered the seventh grade at age 11 and became eligible to join the track and field and cross country teams. He said he hasn’t looked back since and doesn’t plan to.
“I liked both cross country and track but the distance was never long enough for me,” Morseman said. “I knew right away I was going to be more of an endurance marathon kind of athlete. Even when I was that young I was running from 80 to 100 miles a week.”
In his first marathon run, Morseman completed the course in two hours, 27 minutes.
Being from a rural area of New York, most of his training is by himself. He said it helps keep his head on his shoulders and train to his ability.
“I like to run marathons because of the challenge, even for us speedsters,” he said. “Like every runner, we still hit our walls of endurance and feel the pain just like the runners that finish the course in five hours. The key is how we handle hitting that wall.”
He added the human body can become a real workhorse when challenged, so he tries to push his body past its max during every run. And he admitted that if events were available, he’d like to run a marathon every weekend.
Although Morseman still puts in about 100 miles a week for training, most of those miles are covered on a treadmill rather than the road. That way he can better juggle a schedule that includes his wife Sarah and four kids.
“I started running a lot more marathons six years ago after my son Leeim was born with spina bifida,” he said. “Being a parent of a child with a disability really sparks that fire inside you to maximize what you’re good at, if that makes sense. It’s life-changing and makes you want to go out and achieve as much as possible.”
Morseman’s personal best time for the marathon is 2:19:57. Numerous others were completed in the 2:20 range. In 2015, he won three marathons in three different states, all within eight days.
“Running has been a great activity for me and it keeps me young,” he said. “Through all the negative news that’s going on today and people’s lives being upended, I hope we can really start to cherish where and how we live. We only live once so we should make the most of it.”
This year’s Platte Valley Companies Monument Marathon is still on the schedule for Saturday, Sept. 26. As of Tuesday, about 260 runners have registered for the full marathon, half-marathon and 5K events. That’s about 93% of the number of entries from last year.
Marathon Race Director Jennifer Reisig said that even with health and safety precautions because of the coronavirus pandemic, she’s happy with the number of entries.
She added there’s still time for runners to register and she’s hoping the field will grow to 300-plus by race day. A registration form is available online at monumentmarathon.com.
The course record for the full marathon in the men’s division was set in 2019 by Joe Wilson from Lingle, Wyoming. At 43, he turned in a time of 2:44:35.
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