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Monument Marathon wins tourism award
October 31, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

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Courtesy photo - Karla Niedan-Streeks, Executive Director of the Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau and Brenda Leisy, director of Scotts Bluff County Tourism, accept the Outstanding Event Award for their work organizing the Monument Marathon during the Nebraska Travel Conference held in Norfolk last week.

Monument Marathon, which just completed its second running, was one of the top winners at the Nebraska Travel Conference, held last week in Norfolk.

The event was presented with the Outstanding Event Award for communities with populations of up to 10,000.

Brenda Leisy, director of Scotts Bluff County Tourism, submitted the nomination paperwork to be considered by the Nebraska Tourism Commission.

Leisy said that most of the 12 awards categories had three to five nominees, but the category for outstanding events in smaller communities had 16. “I thought it would hard to win in that category with so many contenders,” she said.

A news release from the Tourism Commission said there were two main areas they liked about the Monument Marathon nomination. One was that it brought tourism to the area and was a successful event that got the local population involved. “Successful, fun-filled events develop a community’s long-term tourism potential and often attract state, regional and national media attention. A popular event can trademark a community and provide a significant boost to its economy,” the release said.

The second reason the commission liked the marathon nomination was that the funds it raised would go toward scholarship opportunities at Western Nebraska Community College. “The goal of the event was to promote healthy lifestyles, introduce and promote beautiful, scenic, Western Nebraska to a whole new population, bring outside tourism dollars to the community and to raise funds for the Western Nebraska Community College Foundation.”

The annual Nebraska Travel Conference drew more than 170 tourism professionals as sessions were schedule for professional development. The last night of the event is the awards ceremony.
“I cried when they announced us as the winner,” Leisy said. “We were very excited. It’s huge for tourism, but this is also a community award. It wasn’t just one group of people. It took everyone to make it happen.”

Race director Dayle Wallien was also excited the state tourism commission had recognized the Monument Marathon. “We’re honored the efforts of our community have been recognized, because our success is attributable to the entire community,” she said. “People and organizations from around the Panhandle have helped with this event, and that’s who the award belongs to.”

The Monument Marathon course, certified by the US Track and Field Association, takes runners along the Oregon Trail, through the Wildcat Hills, the Scotts Bluff National Monument and the badlands area north of the monument. In this year’s event, there were 422 registrants from 24 states.

The half-marathon event was also designed as the Nebraska championship course by the Road Runners of America Club.
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