Volunteers play a part in annual Monument Marathon success
GERING — The Platte Valley Companies Monument Marathon is observing seven successful years on Sept. 29 and volunteers play a big part in that success.
Volunteer training is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 19 and 20, in the Harms Center at Western Nebraska Community College, 2610 College Park in Scottsbluff.
Training sessions are scheduled for 7 a.m., noon and 5 p.m. on both days. Volunteers only need to attend one session, which lasts about 45 minutes. To register prior to the training, go online to monumentmarathon.com and click the “Volunteer” tab to fill out your information. Other race information is also available on the website.
“During the training session we go through everything volunteers need to know for what they’ll be involved with on race day so they don’t have to worry about anything in advance,” said marathon co-coordinator Kristin Wiebe. “Most of our volunteers will serve along the course as course marshals.”
The marathon includes three distances on the course: full marathon, half-marathon and 5K. The course marshals make sure runners keep on their designated course and assist with any issues that may come up.
Some course marshals are on bicycles along the route and in some of the less accessible areas to assure the runners aren’t having problems.
The entire marathon will run on Sept. 29 from about 7:30 a.m. to about 2 p.m. Volunteers can sign up for either morning or afternoon shifts.
Volunteers are also needed to help direct traffic into the parking lot at Five Rock Amphitheater the morning of the race.
“We have parking shifts starting early in the morning as the runners are arriving,” Wiebe said. “That’s probably our biggest need. It’s a great opportunity for people that want to help out early then be done for the day.”
About 290 volunteers helped with last year’s marathon. This year’s event is on track to have about 500 runners.
“With those numbers, we’re providing pretty good coverage for the participants,” Wiebe said. “The runners are always telling us they love how well this event is supported by the community. They never feel they’re on the course for too long before seeing someone who’s ready to help and encourage them to the next mile.”
One of the back areas on the course is behind West Lawn Cemetery in Gering. It’s also a great place for encouragement as musicians from the Pine Ridge Agency Singers provide a drumbeat to cheer on the runners.
Volunteers are also needed prior to race day, filling race bags for distribution to runners.
On Friday, the day prior to the race, volunteers are at the Gering Civic Center to greet the runners and answer any questions about the community during the Marathon Health Expo from noon to 9 p.m.
A big part of the marathon experience comes from the many community volunteers that line the course, ringing cowbells and cheering on the runners. Many of them bring funny signs and others can be seen in bright pink wigs.
Late Saturday afternoon after the marathon, Flyover Brewing Company in downtown Scottsbluff will host an after-party for runners and volunteers.
“It’s such a fun thing to see such a variety of runners all enjoying our community,” Wiebe said. “We have runners in their 70s and teenagers and every age group in between. The whole event is such a great experience that comes together in just one day.”