Relay rules are a 
monumental mistake

So now, apparently, running a marathon through Colorado National Monument is fine, but running a half-marathon is not.

The ruling announced last week with respect to the U.S. Bank Rim Rock Marathon Nov. 9 is just the latest in the head-scratching series of decisions that have emanated from monument headquarters and the National Park Service.

For instance, a professional bike race similar to one that rolled across the main road in Colorado National Monument in the 1980s was deemed inappropriate — even though the law hasn’t changed since the 1980s. But a for-profit fun ride through the monument that attracted nearly 2,000 bicyclists is just fine.

Then there was the decision during the monument’s centennial celebration last year to set off fireworks across the monument’s iconic canyons, even as monument officials warned community leaders of the environmental damage a bike race could cause.

Regarding the Rim Rock Marathon, we understand the concern of Monument Superintendent Lisa Eckert that she doesn’t want the race to interfere with other visitors’ access to the monument on a busy Veterans Day weekend.

We certainly don’t want to dismiss that concern. The monument is a national treasure. It doesn’t belong only to a few runners.

But it seems like there ought to have been a way to accommodate the 20 runners who wanted to run only half the marathon in a relay with their partners. This compared to the 92 people scheduled to run the entire marathon.

Race director Chris Reed said he attempted to negotiate with monument officials to find a solution for the half-marathoners. He suggested providing a bus to pick up and deliver half-marathoners at the relay point so there wouldn’t be individual vehicles for all of them, adding to possible traffic congestion. But none of his suggestions or attempts at negotiating met with approval from authorities with the national monument.

Also, it should be noted that this is a change from previous races, when relay runners were allowed.

It’s unfortunate that Colorado National Monument officials have a reputation for making hard-and-fast decisions on community events or issues that affect this community while leaving little or no room to negotiate or to consider alternative options.

The Daily Sentinel has enthusiastically supported the latest call to have Congress change the status of Colorado National Monument to a national park.

However, given the arbitrary and intransigent nature of recent decision-making on issues such as these, it’s not difficult to understand why many people are skeptical of any change that they perceive as potentially giving more authority to monument officials.

As we have noted on previous occasions, monument officials often seek more support from community members for their necessary efforts to preserve, improve and increase recognition for Colorado National Monument. But they need to earn that backing by being more supportive of local residents who want to include the wonderful vistas and resources of the monument in community events.


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