The 4th Annual 911 Memorial Mt. Grant Challenge was held on Saturday, Sept. 13 with most participants beginning before sunrise near Walker Lake. Although the air was brisk in the morning, high temperatures made this year’s challenge, well, a bit more challenging to those who scaled the almost 17 mile, 7,000 feet incline hike.
The 911 Challenge Committee sponsored a meet and greet spaghetti dinner at the Veteran’s Park on Friday night. Proceeds from the Challenge help fund maintenance and upkeep at the community’s landmark “Big Flag” park and rest facility through the VFW organization locally. Madeline Bennett sang an A Capella rendition of the Star Spangled Banner during the festivities and the crowd was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.
Registrants picked up their bib numbers and goodie bags in order to be prepared for the early start. The bags included items from local businesswomen, full issues of Nevada Magazine and Nevada 150 pins as the challenge was an official Nevada 150 event. Tourism information from the Mineral County Museum and Fair and Recreation Commission was also included as many participants were from out-of-town and visiting our area for the first time.
Before dawn on Saturday, last minute registration and packet pickup was held and the final participant count indicating that 94 had signed up for this year’s challenge. This year’s race included more than 20 youth who were invited to participate and given free access to this year’s race because of generous sponsorship donations. Including all the volunteers, emergency personnel and participants more than 120 people enjoyed the day on the mountain trail.
The 911 Memorial Challenge is designed to be both mentally and physically grueling in memory of those who died on that day and to honor those who have died since. The Challenge also recognizes the civilians, emergency service, military and all who serve in the ongoing battle to keep our country and communities safe. Throughout the hike participants were inspired by large photos and quotes from both survivors and those who had lost family members that day.
Offering continuous support and resources since the Challenge’s inception, both SOC Nevada LLC and past Commander Craig Short and current Commander Gregory Gibbons at the Hawthorne Army Depot have been instrumental in sustaining this event. When the support of the firefighters, EMT’s and law enforcement is added in, it’s no wonder that next year’s event is expected to be even bigger and better.
Demonstrating the viability of this event as a tourism draw, 43 participants were from out of the area, along with many locals. Funds from the Mineral County Fair and Recreation Board have helped promote this event for the past two years and it is anticipated that a grant from the Nevada Commission on Tourism will be applied for next year.