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Monument marathon big win for Valley tourism
October 03, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis

Photo by Spectrum Photography A Monument Marathon participant is joined at the finish line by three small supporters during Saturday’s second annual marathon held in Gering and the Wildcat Hills. Visitors from all over the nation came to the Valley for the accredited marathon. For more photos, see page B10.

The Platte Valley Companies Monument Marathon has completed its second event, and judging from participant and crowd support, it was another big success.

About 420 runners from 20 states competed last Saturday on a marathon and half marathon course that took them through some of the best scenery in the area.

“We were really pleased with how everything went,” said race director Dayle Wallien. “We were thrilled with the response we had from the local governments, the sponsors, volunteers and the community. It was just outstanding.”

This year’s winners in the men’s and women’s full marathon were the same as last year: the husband and wife team of Sam and Jennifer Malmberg of Ft. Collins, Colo. Sam’s winning time was 2:49:24, with Jennifer coming in at 3:21:11, both setting new course records.
In the men’s full marathon division, Joe Wilson of Lingle, Wyo. placed second with a time of 2:58:05. In third place, with a time of 3:08:29, was Matthew Babcock of Superior, Colo.

For the women in the full marathon, Heather Sturdivant of Littleton, Colo. placed second with a time of 3:28:18. Meghan Schneider of Scottsbluff posted a 3:48:53 time for third place.

In the half marathon men’s division, Aaron Carrizales of Gering was first with a time of 1:18:21. In second place, with a time of 1:20:29, was James McGown of Sidney. And Doug Agne of Lakewood, Colo. came in third, posting a 1:27:51 time.

For the women in the half marathon, Courtney Madson of Laramie, Wyo. was first with a time of 1:39:59. Second place went to Sarah Stahl of Bellevue, Neb. with a time of 1:42:51. The third place time of 1:43:00 was posted by Kristin Schmidt of Sidney.

Complete results can be found at www.monumentmarathon.com.

The weather was nicer than last year’s rain, but the event still had its challenges. Rain on Friday night turned some dirt sections of the course to mud. Volunteers were out that night and into the early morning putting down plywood.

“The runners told me with the addition of the plywood, the course was fine and they were happy with how fast it was,” Wallien said. “Runners were breaking records across the board as far as the winning times went.”

She added she’s already received numerous emails from participants with praise for the beautiful area, community support and the volunteer help.

Brenda Leisy, director of Scotts Bluff County Tourism, was also impressed with the turnout. Her agency sponsored a Health Expo at Western Nebraska Community College the day before the marathon and had an opportunity to talk with many of the runners when they registered.

“The most important thing to come out of the weekend is that everyone who shows up is absolutely amazed at how beautiful it is here,” Leisy said. “People who stopped by the booth said they didn’t have a lot of time, but were planning to come back. All of those people will tell their friends about the area. That’s what it means to tourism.”

She added their expo is a little different in that it doesn’t just offer health and fitness related information. Local businesses and attractions participated in the expo. They offered information the runners could also use in planning a future visit.

“It was a fantastic event,” Leisy said. “I’ve just been flooded with great comments from participants and I look forward to helping next year.”

Proceeds from the Monument Marathon benefit the WNCC Foundation to provide scholarships for incoming students.

With help from Scotts Bluff County Tourism, marathon organizers plan to do some national advertising for next year. The third annual Monument Marathon is scheduled for Sept. 27, 2014 through the Wildcat Hills area south of Gering.
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