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Omaha Marathon works to set example for safe races during pandemic

Posted at 11:39 PM, Sep 20, 2020

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — 2020 is the year of canceled events, but organizers of the Omaha Marathon like Tom Struzzieri say they’re happy to give runners the opportunity to compete Sunday morning.

“I talked to a bunch of them as we started the race- how happy they were, how lucky we were to be racing," said Struzzieri the race's organizer from Hit Endurance. "If we can race in a smart way, what better thing to be doing than a physical activity that promotes a healthy lifestyle.”

There were quite a few changes to the race this year, some beginning before runners even reached the start line. Each runner had their temperature taken before being sorted into groups that would take off in waves to create some space between them.

Masks were required to be worn, up until the point of hearing the word “go”. Officials also asked that spectators spread out along the route to cheer on their runners.

For runner Craig Halverson, the changes weren't going to keep him from enjoying the race.

“People that really love running, like they’ll come out and they’ll follow the rules, just to get a chance to go out there and compete," Halverson said.

One tradition that was missed by some runners was the awards ceremony, which organizers chose not to hold in fear of creating a crowd.

With many large races being canceled this year, the marathon was able to attract runners from across the nation, with every state being represented except Hawaii.

“Getting different people to come over here and race- we got a lot of good runners here, so it gives our runners a good chance to get better themselves," Halverson said.

Struzzieri says they are hoping the success of the race will encourage more races to continue as scheduled.

“We’re hoping that the Omaha Marathon can be a springboard to other races, to show how you can do one in a safe way," Struzzieri said.