Lincoln Marathon: What’s Next

May 7, 2012 at 1:10pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

So what’s next for the Lincoln Marathon? If all goes well, it will gradually expand to 15,000 participants—50% larger than this year’s field. That can only happen after race organizers confirm that they’ve been able to adequately serve the number of folks already participating. My very limited experience suggests that they did fine this year, but obviously there’s more to it than what I saw.

Another important thing to consider is the narrowness of the Boosalis Trail between 27th and 48th Streets. Race co-director Nancy Sutton has confirmed that funding is in place for widening that stretch, but it’s not clear when the construction would happen. It sounds like a 12,000 participant race is a possibility for next year so perhaps the trail could be widened as soon as this fall. I’m speculating.

From Lincoln’s perspective, the Lincoln Marathon is a huge benefit to the community. There’s the immediate financial impact of bringing in runners from around the country, of course. But there are tons of intangibles as well. It’s a fun, prominent activity that engages the City. Furthermore, it encourages thousands of Lincolnites to get fit, even if they don’t run in the race itself.

As for me, I’ve got the half-marathon bug. I wish I could catch the full marathon bug, but physically that’s a huge improbability for me. (Explaining why is long story.) I would love to get down to about an 8:00 minute pace. I’m not sure how likely that is, but it’ll be a fun goal to chase. It’s a viable target for next year’s race—or perhaps even for Omaha in the fall. Of course, that would require me to train all summer, and if summer 2012 is as relatively hot as spring 2012 has been ... blech!

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Fletch May 7, 2012 at 3:14pm

I know in speaking with someone on the committee last summer, they had even talked about trying to get to 12,000 this year. Aside from widening the trail, I think they would love to close one lane of the highway and use that. It’s problematic because the highway is state-run, I think.

I don’t like to sound critical, but it amazes me that they cannot figure out a way to set up some rules to allow more runners in when they know people who signed up cannot run. If you look at the results, about 7934 people finished the half and full. 10,000 were registered, and my understandig is there was some wiggle room for a select few to get in past the 10K mark (participants in the YMCA marathon class, National Guardsmen).

I was told about 90 people started yesterday but DNF’d. So where are the other 2,000? When you have to sign up in December, it’s very hard to predict what kind of shape you can be in by May. Injuries happen. I’m sure other life events get in the way for some.

I would think it would be possible to create a Waiting List. First-come, first-served. Let 10,000 runners sign up, and let them pay. Non-refundable. When a runner is hurt or knows well in advance they can’t run, they notify the Marathon, forfeit their spot in the race, and the next person on the waiting list pays and gets in. I know of several people that got hurt and couldn’t run, and many more that would have paid to get in.

If you want to personalize the bibs (which I LOVED), pick a cut-off date. Maybe bibs are printed in April, and anyone off the waiting list after April 1 gets a generic bib. Maybe no changes are made to the list after April 1, so organizers have a firm number to plan for 4-5 weeks out for things like cups, etc.

There could have been 1-2,000 more runners yesterday. At $60 (for the half), that’s an additional $60-120,000K coming in.

I barely missed out on signing up in 2010, and it sold out on March 31. An April 1 cut-off would give the same amount of time.

Fletch May 7, 2012 at 3:18pm

Again, I don’t mean to be critical. I love this event, and I know it’s a ton of work. If I decide not to run some year, I am going to volunteer in some way. And I will cheer. I’ve never done that before yesterday.

After the half, we went to Holmes Lake and cheered the full marathoners just before the turn-around. I know it helps me, so I wanted to help them. It was great, and I will do that again.

I like this event so much, I’d just like to see them figure out how to make it possible for more people to experience it and take it all in.

CP May 7, 2012 at 4:45pm

I’ll start by saying that I have never chosen to be near a marathon before yesterday when my wife did the half. It was important to us that our daughters saw her training and participation as a part of modeling a lifestyle choice for them. I was flabberghasted - what an amazing event for this city. Kudos to the organizers and the city of Lincoln for supporting it!

With that out of the way, I wondered why (if they wanted to have 15k+ runners) they don’t just reverse the course? Running the 2nd half of the course 1st would greatly expand the street capacity, and the smaller number of runners who run the full marathon would probably be just fine on the existing Boosalis trail. Is there something about the topography of the 1st & 2nd halves of the marathon that demands they be run in that order, or in that direction?

Mr. Wilson May 7, 2012 at 4:59pm

I’ve wondered the same thing. I know that the (current) first half is far more scenic than the second half. Letting the entire field experience that seems like a valuable selling point for the race as a whole. I know I’d be pretty disappointed if the half-marathon were a simple out-and-back to Holmes Lake.

Dave K May 8, 2012 at 3:09am

Given Lincoln’s propensity to spend money on things that have claims to ROI that are dubious at best, I was dumbfounded when I read that expanding that section of the trail and, therefore, the marathon itself required funding from a grant.

Kim May 13, 2012 at 2:59pm

Agree with you, Brent, that an out and back to Holmes would be a disappointing half. I think they need to look at where the growth is in this race….it’s in the half, not the full. So there were roughly 8,000 who started and the course was at capacity for the first half. It will take more than widening the Boosalis to accommodate this growth. But I’m all for it because it’s a great event. I have heard the Des Moines half is a spectacular and well run event.

I think a lot of the “did not shows” were due to the iffy weather at 4 a.m….I walked with a guy from Omaha who said that as he was driving down in the monsoon, he thought “why am I doing this?” and he almost turned around. My hub’s aunt, who is 75, was going to do the half with me…she has done about 20 marathons since she hit age 70, but at the last minute, didn’t come up from Dallas because her spouse was ill.

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