OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Omaha Marathon kicked off bright and early Sunday morning in downtown Omaha. The event hosts a number of different races throughout the day, a marathon, a half marathon, a 5K, a 4K, and a family and friends mile.
"Our motto is a distance for everyone," said Tommy Struzzieri, the race director. "It gives people, I don’t want to say average but the recreational runner, a chance to really feel special and pursue running later on. You get an award. I would say a majority of people will get awards and that’s great. There’s nothing like getting an award and they earn that award. It’s not an easy thing."
It's a qualifier for events like the Boston and New York City marathons. Every year hundreds of people who participate in Omaha qualify for those big races.
"It’s a certified course. We had a professional mark the course exactly the distance that should be run in order to hit the time to go to the Boston or New York marathons. He marks it the shortest possible route so if it’s a wide turn he’ll go to the shortest turn. Their watches might turn up as long but he marks it the shortest possible route you can go," Struzzieri said.
Stephen Grimmet traveled from Topeka, Kansas to initially support his mother in the race, but decided to sign up last minute for the half marathon. Grimmet says he runs 40 to 50 miles a week and ended up crossing the finish line first for the half marathon.
"It was unbelievable, I didn’t expect to be in a position to win today. I was just using this as a warm-up for the full marathon I’ll be running next Sunday but at the halfway point I saw I was in second place so I decided I’ll just go for it," Grimmet said.
Portions of the proceeds from the event go towards Partnership 4 Kids, a local organization that helps mentor kids for the future.