Monument Marathon picking up steam
     2013-07-18      By Elizabeth Gross    elizabethgross@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Phillip Eckerberg for the Citizen - Half marathon racers begin last year’s Monument Marathon. 425 runners from across the country gathered to take part of the Marathon’s inaugural event last year. Registration has begun for this year’s marathon with already over 200 runners signed up. 
The biggest little marathon in the plains is back. Registration has begun for the second annual Monument Marathon. People came from all four corners of the country to take part in the first inaugural celebration.

The Monument Marathon was created to help raise money for the WNCC Foundation. The Foundation provides the college with funds to support various scholarships and projects that arise at the college.
The second reason for creating the event was to inspire the people of the Panhandle to adapt a healthy lifestyle. “We thought that this would encourage them to get active,” said Foundation executive director, Dayle Wallien, “because it really is inspirational.”

Last year, there were 425 runners that took part in last year’s innaugural marathon which far exceeded the organizers’ expectations.” We were very happy with the way things turned out,” said Wallien. There were people of all skill levels from those who had never run a half marathon to those who were seasoned marathon runners. A gentleman from Florida who had run hundreds of marathons said that the Monument Marathon was one of his top ten favorites.

“With comments like that we considered it a success,” said Wallien. Community involvement helped to make last year’s race such a success. There were 250 volunteers on race day, not counting the countless other volunteers who helped before race day. Residents from Heritage Estates helped package the race bags runners would receive when they arrived.

“The community was so supportive,” said Wallien. Many of the runners loved the crowd participation.
Wallien has a couple of goals for this year’s marathon. She hopes the weather will cooperate better than last year when winds, rain and lighting made racers nervous, raising the question of whether there was going to be a race.

Wallien also desires for more participation. The Monument Marathon has the potential to become a very large event with economic potential. “From an economic standpoint we wanted to bring a new population into the Panhandle,” said Wallien. The marathon would display the beauty of the area, especially those who have easy access to the Panhandle like those who live in the Front Range of Colorado.

Wallien has traveled to many marathon expos to advertise the event. There were some doubts from out-of-state runners. Many runners claimed that Nebraska would be too flat or would involve running through corn fields, however; when Wallien showed photos of the area and last year’s participant comments, it spiked their interest.

Distance was also a major selling point. “We want to be the Nebraska marathon,” said Wallien.
There is a group of marathoners who try to do a marathon in all 50 states. “We want to be the personalized marathon,” she said. “One runner last year had a flight that was delayed getting into Denver. By the time she would have reached Scottsbluff she would be too late for her race packet pick-up. A big race she would have been out of luck,” said Wallien. The participant was able to call Wallien who personally delivered it to at her motel. “We’re able to do that because we are small, personalized, and we want that reputation,” said Wallien.

An additional benefit to the Valley was that after the marathon, many of the runners decided to stay in town and explore.
There are already more than 200 people signed up for this year’s marathon. The race will take place on Sept. 28. Registration lasts until Sept.15. The cost of the full marathon is $85 and the half is $65, however; that price will increase on Sep.1. To register go online at www.monumentmarathon.com.

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