Brookings Marathon, community shine


Over the years I have traveled to Brookings more than a dozen times to attend the Brookings Marathon (or half), the Jack 15 Road Race, and special birthday celebrations for Bob Bartling. 

During each trip I made efforts to explore other aspects and offerings of the community, knowing I would only scratch the surface because of the abundance of attractions.  I toured several museums including South Dakota Art Museum and the Children’s Museum, climbed up Coughlin Campanile, made many visits to the phenomenal Prairie Striders Running Library (part of SDSU’s Briggs Library), found bargains at the bookstore on Main Street, and browsed through antique stores and other unique shops located in the very delightful downtown.

Of course, I ran through the community numerous times and definitely noticed treasures like McCrory Gardens, the Nature Center, and several nice parks, along with many attractive residences and public buildings. Obviously, culture and community pride are more contagious in Brookings than that vile virus.

Last weekend I ran Brookings Marathon; and in these days of constant COVID concerns, I was extremely impressed how the exceptional race committee, generous sponsors, helpful health professionals, dedicated public safety staff, friendly volunteers, and other community members collaborated to ensure a very safe event that won the victory over the virus. 

Fifteen-year Race Director Matt Bien could write the book on how to conduct the best possible race during these difficult days, and I commend everyone who worked diligently in supporting the event.

Since 1989, I have run over 1,300 races, and this year’s Brookings Marathon ranks up with the very best. Everything was perfect, from the incredible (and physically distanced!) hospitality, well-planned safety measures, quality race shirts, special and useful drawstring zipper backpacks, delicious refreshments, and a wonderful USATF certified course that showcases beautiful Brookings so well. 

I heard plenty of positive comments from other runners who were delighted to achieve goals or personal records, appreciated the opportunity to earn concurrent credit for running the Virtual Boston Marathon, or were thrilled to run a Boston Marathon qualifying time. Also word was out that Brookings is an ideal place to return for family vacations. 

With the current pandemic and recession, it is amazing that Brookings has done so well to maintain a variety of wonderful businesses and outstanding running events. Other cities of similar sizes have not done as well and have many closed storefronts, buildings in disrepair, and a lack of health and safety conscious activities. Not Brookings!

Thank you to all who made this year’s marathon a splendid success. I personally appreciated how the community made me feel so welcome, and I look forward to my next visit to run the Jack 15, another great race.

 See you in October.