“It’s official. We are running. June 6, 2020.”
Rachel Dean is very excited. Her idea for a Havre marathon is hitting its stride and growing stronger by the day.
On Thursday, the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce learned the Department of Commerce’s Tourism Program awarded Havre $12,700 to advertise its inaugural marathon and attract visitors.
On Friday, Chamber Executive Director Jody Olson added to the good news: She landed the event’s major sponsor, Enell Sport Bra, the major sports bra company owned by Havre’s Renelle Braaten.
Dean and Olson, who spoke to the Herald Friday afternoon in Montana State University-Northern’s Cowan Hall, said the goal is to raise about $30,000 total, with the grant included. Braaten’s decision to be the event’s major sponsor certainly provided a chunk of that.
“Renelle gets us a lot closer,” Olson said.
The plan is to get more sponsors, and to spread word of the marathon as far as Saskatchewan and southern Alberta, Canada, as well as all the surrounding states.
The marathon was badly needed. An annual race will be great for Havre, the women believe.
“I think Havre is lacking a very big event to put us on the map,” Dean said. “This is it.”
It’ll be a chance to show off the city’s unique attractions, Olson added, citing the Clack Museum, Fort Assinniboine, Havre Beneath the Streets, the Hi-Line Heritage House Museum and the Wahpa Chu’gn Buffalo Jump.
“I want to show off our mountains,” Dean said, referring to the igneous island formations, the Bear Paws.
The marathon will add onto Living History Weekend, when exhibitions with glimpses into how Havre residents once lived will take place throughout town.
Dean said the idea is to have multiple events happening that week to give visitors more opportunities to have fun and discover the region’s many unique attractions. She wants the marathon to feed off Living History and vice versa.
This, of course, will be great for local businesses as well.
There’s a lot of work to be done before the race kicks off.
“This is an all-hands-on-deck event,” Dean said.
In addition to online and poster marketing, the Chamber will try to get a “save the date” trinket in the swag bags of runners taking part in marathons throughout the state this summer.
A logo needs to be created and a website must be built, which will hopefully be complete by July 1.
Volunteers will be needed to help with the many moving parts of that weekend.
And, of course, runners will be needed. The goal is to attract 250. People with questions or who want to sign up before the website is complete can call the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce.
The marathon will include a full 26.2-mile marathon, a 13.1-mile half-marathon and a 5k race.
Full details for the entire route have yet to be worked out, but it will start on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation, run through Beaver Creek Park, and into Havre. Dean said she’d like to set up a Living History exhibition just north of the park.
The half-marathon will start between First and Second lakes in the park and proceed to MSU-Northern. A 5K race will be offered for casual runners, hopefully going through Havre’s Historic District to Northern.
Dean, a runner, thought of the idea for a local marathon when she was training for a marathon. She was running through Beaver Creek Park with her friend, Sarah McKinney, who is also a Havre City Council member.
“’It’d be nice to do a race out here,’” she remembers thinking.
Dean went to the Events Committee of the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce. The committee eventually caught on and got excited about the prospects, thinking of the number of people the event would bring to town. The Chippewa Cree Tribe, Bear Paw Development and city of Havre have all helped. Mayor Tim Solomon has agreed to have the fire department provide emergency services.
“This is going to be the thing,” Dean said. “Because everybody’s going to be coming. Get ready.”