Nurse finds stress relief in running, training to run Monument Marathon

Bekki Zitterkopf of Gering started running in 2017 while she was studying nursing. Although she's now graduated, she keeps on the track as a stress reliever and for the freedom she gets from running.

GERING — For Bekki Zitterkopf of Gering, who started running in the fall of 2017, lacing up her running show has become a healthful stress reliever for a busy life.

“I was in nursing school when I started, so running became my outlet for the stress,” Zitterkopf said. “I also wanted to see how far I could go, so I kept up with it since then.”

Zitterkopf ran her first Monument Marathon in 2018 in the half-marathon event. She plans to be back for her second half-marathon in September.

Zitterkopf recently graduated as a registered nurse and is now working in the Birth and Infant Care Center at Regional West Medical Center. But as her nursing assignments continued to change, she saw running as an area of life she had figured out and was in control.

“After my first half-marathon, running became a challenge to push myself more and more,” she said. “Setting goals also helped me stay motivated for school.”

Zitterkopf has since kept her motivation growing with two half-marathons in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, plus several 5K runs, mud runs and a 10K run in the local area.

“I really like the Monument Marathon because it’s here at home,” she said. “I get a huge sense of accomplishment running a half-marathon. And I really like that my family can be here to watch me finish.”

Like many participants, Zitterkopf said she didn’t realize how gorgeous the area is until she took to the backroads around the monument.

“The whole marathon course is set up around the most beautiful areas,” she said. “You don’t notice it while you’re driving around, but you can tell when you see it on foot.”

The feeling of freedom is another reason Zitterkopf keeps returning to the course. “Running gives me time to think about things,” she said. “There’s a real sense of accomplishment in running and it gives me something to look forward to.”

The 8th annual Monument Marathon is coming up on Saturday, Sept. 28, taking runners from across the nation through some of the most beautiful terrain in western Nebraska.

With title sponsor Platte Valley Companies, the Monument Marathon is a fundraising event for the Western Nebraska Community College Foundation. Those funds help with scholarships for students in need who are continuing their educational opportunities.

For more on the Monument Marathon, including how to volunteer, visit www.monumentmarathon.com.