Lon Monroe knew he had taken on a difficult assignment when he assumed the position of race director for the Silver State Marathon a couple of months ago.
It was still an assignment he accepted with enthusiasm.
"I just stepped in to help because there just wasn't enough help, and it's been pretty darn interesting," Monroe said, flashing a smile. "People put on these races so we have an opportunity to run and it doesn't hurt anybody to kind of pay it back."
Approximately 800 runners and walkers are expected to be on hand for the 25th annual Silver State Marathon - a marathon, half-marathon for runners and 10-K run/walk - at Bowers Mansion Regional Park in Washoe Valley. The 26.2-mile marathon run starts at 6 a.m., followed by the 13.1-mile half-marathon and 10-K run at 7 a.m. and the 10-K walk at 7:10.
Registration and packet pickups will be available today from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. at the Peppermill in Reno. No registration will be accepted on Sunday.
Being the Silver State Marathon's Silver Anniversary makes Sunday a special occasion.
"It will be a special day, I think," Monroe said. "I hope everybody has a great, great time. We're doing everything we can to put on a good race."
Monroe, a 54-year-old Truckee resident, may be Silver State's new race director, but he is no stranger to Northern Nevada's distance running community. He has done the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run from Squaw Valley to Auburn, Calif., each of the last four years and this year shook off the effects of a stress fracture injury to complete the event in a little over 28 hours.
Next weekend, starting on Thursday night from Tahoe Meadows near Mt. Rose, Monroe plans to help out when Joe Braninburg attempts to set a record of 48 hours or better running the 163-mile Tahoe Rim Trail.
Monroe was himself a sprinter during his track and field days in the 1960's at tiny Willows High School in Northern California, but whatever got him involved with marathon and ultra-distance running?
"I was a runner, but I ran short stuff, I ran 10-Ks and stuff like that," Monroe said. "Actually, my little sister got me started in all this. I was talking to her one day and I said, 'I've got to run a marathon some time.' All of this stuff started coming in the mail, how to run marathons and so forth, and I've been running ever since. I ran my first marathon in 1994 and I've probably run 25 marathons and probably 25 ultras since then."
Ironically enough, Monroe has never run a full marathon at Silver State.
"I've only run the half here a couple of times, but I've never run the marathon. I don't know why; usually, I've always been recovering after running 100-milers," Monroe said.
"John (Trent) and myself, and actually most of us are ultra-runners. We run marathons, but we really run 50-K's, 50-milers, 100-milers ... so that'll tell you a lot about how bright we are," he added with a laugh.
Trent, who Northern Nevada running connections date back to the 1970s when he was a standout at Reno High School, has also been involved with the organization of this year's Silver State Marathon, which serves as a fund-raiser for the Silver State Junior Striders youth running program. There are countless others, as well.
"Chris Holabird is the co-race director ... Stan Ostrom in charge of the volunteers ... Tom Trabert is in charge of setting up the course and Ski Pisarski in charge of all the volunteers for the aid stations ... so there's quite a few of us," Monroe said.
"We're going to serve a lot of food and Great Basin Brewery is helping us out some of beer, Calistoga Water is donating a bunch of water, we're getting a lot of support from the distributors in town, so it's really nice."
Some noteworthy entries have already been received. Among those are Carson City's Victoria Herazo, a two-time U.S. Olympic race-walker who will be back to defend her title in the Silver State 10-K walk - she will be out to improve on last year's winning time of 52 minutes, 10 seconds.
Another is Rae Clark of Auburn, Calif., a former American 24-hour run record holder who finished the prestigious Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run 11 times between 1980 and 1998. Clark finished third at last year's Silver State Marathon in a time of 3:02:01.
The men's and women's marathon champions last year were Ted Rasoumoff of Reno (2:55:54) and Susan Enlow of Corona, Calif., (3:35:37). Those times are indicative of how difficult the course is.
"We're starting to figure this is probably one of the toughest marathons in the West and we're going to start billing it as such - as one of the toughest in the West," Monroe said.
From just before the 5-mile mark to about mile 15, the course travels less on public roads and more through the Scripps Wildlife Preserve, Washoe Lake State Park and even through a cutting-horse ranch. Most of the route is hard-packed dirt/gravel road, but there are some sandy sections.
"It's so soft. This course is really good on your legs because you got a lot of dirt, a lot of sand and a lot of soft stuff, so you don't have to run on hard pavement," Monroe said.
"Ski and I were talking, we think we might have found another hill ... so we can really screw people up. Half the fun is to see how sadistic you can get," he added with a laugh.
The weather could prove to be a factor on Sunday.
"It's going to be hot. It's supposed to be about 98 - so run fast and drink a lot," Monroe advised.
Does he have any tips for running the marathon?
"My suggestion, if you've never run a marathon before: drink a lot, stop at the aid stations, make sure you drink plenty, and walk while you're drinking, and run again. Unless, if you're trying to set some kind of record, then you probably have your own schedule," Monroe said. "I was always taught, it's OK to walk a little, and if you're going to walk, then walk early; if you start walking when you're tired, then you're probably not going to want to start running again."
He also offered some insight to those who are running the Silver State course for the first time.
"My biggest tip for this course is, if you're planning on running a fast marathon, you're running the wrong marathon," Monroe said. "I mean, you'll run a good time, but don't be disappointed with it because there's no 2:15's in this marathon. This is a tough, hard marathon, so just go out and have a good time."
Silver State Marathon facts and figures
-- Bowers Mansion Regional Park is located on the west side of scenic Washoe Valley, 10 miles north of Carson City.
n Course Elevation averages 5,100 feet.
-- Start at 6 a.m. following a scenic loop from the park, clockwise around Washoe Lake on mostly paved roads with some short gentle hills, then along Franktown Road through the ponderosa pines while returning to the park.
-- The Marathon course has 14 aid stations and runs past 8 State Park restrooms.