Monument nixes relays during Rim Rock Marathon
This year’s US Bank Rim Rock Marathon will require all runners to go the 26.2-mile distance.
That’s because managers with Colorado National Monument won’t allow race officials to include half- marathon relay runners because of fears they could make it harder for other monument guests to view the site.
While race director Chris Reed said he doesn’t understand how an additional 20 people could do that, he went along with the restriction.
“They said I may have solo runners, but you may not have relay runners,” he said. “I tried to negotiate for relay runners, and they said, ‘Absolutely not.’ “
Monument Superintendent Lisa Eckert said the problem isn’t so much with the relay runners as it is with other National Park Service initiatives.
The race will be Nov. 10, which is the start of Veterans Day weekend. That’s one of 11 days for the year that the park service offers free access to all national parks and monuments.
Eckert, who took over as monument superintendent about seven months ago, said she wants to ensure that other visitors have equal access to the monument and that their time there isn’t diminished because of the race.
She said even though the relay portion has gone on for a few years, it was never contemplated in a 1998 environmental assessment of monument activities.
“The event became more complex,” she said. “I think the Rim Rock Run just illustrates the need that we need to do a more holistic environmental assessment.”
Currently, there are 92 people signed up to run this year’s event. An additional 20 had wanted to run it, but as part of two-person relays.
Reed said he had planned to do as he’s done in the past years with such runners: bus people to the midway point of the race and bus out those completing their leg of the race there.
That way, traffic is minimized and other monument visitors aren’t inconvenienced, Reed said.
“I’m trying to avoid a conflict, but I’m receiving emails from others in the relay teams saying they don’t understand,” he said. “I don’t know what else I can say. I’m not trying to make an argument out of it. I’ve accepted the terms because I want the race to continue.”
Eckert, however, said there’s more to it than that.
When the race first began 20 years ago, it was just a gate-to-gate community run.
She said monument workers will do a “visitor activity and commercial services plan” starting in January, and will include input from the community and public hearings on all events, not just the race.
She said a new assessment likely will take about a year, meaning it’s unknown how it will impact the 2013 marathon.