The Omaha Running Club held the 2nd Annual Heartland Marathon Sunday morning. Runners from all over the country participated, including Olympic gold medalist Frank Shorter, who won the gold at the Olympic Marathon in 1972.
A 10K, half marathon, full marathon, and marathon relay were all available to runners. This year’s race honored local marathon legend Gary Julin who died of dementia in 2015. Proceeds from the race benefited the Lewy Body Dementia Association.
Guled Jama from Minneapolis came in first overall in the marathon race, finishing at 3 hours and 1 minute. Winners were declared for each race according to age category, going all the way up to 50 plus.
One group of 70 plus aged runners ran the marathon relay. They said they love being an inspiration to others to never give up.
“When you get older, you have to understand the limitations that age brings, but that doesn’t have to stop you from going and doing your best,” said runner Jose Badillo.
Many of them were inspired by Olympic marathon runners such as Shorter, who ran the 10k portion of the race Sunday.
Shorter says running wasn’t very popular until shortly after his Olympic win in 1972. He says clubs like the Omaha Running Club are what keep the sport and the interest alive.
“Most people aren’t aware that it was the running clubs around the United States in various cities like Omaha or Lincoln or Des Moines or New York City that really were the impetus behind the major marathons,” said Shorter.
At 68 years old, Shorter said that he’s not as fast as he used to be, but he doesn’t plan on stopping.
“My personal motto has been that I’m going to do everything I can to slow down as slowly as possible,” said Shorter.
While each runner here has their personal goals, some are running with others in mind.
Jordane Choquette and her group of relay runners represent an organization called Running for Ro, which helps research their friend’s daughter.
“Rowan’s a little girl that in 2013 was diagnosed with a rare brain malformation,” explained Choquette.
Leigh Viedman dedicated his last mile to his friend, retired police officer David Bruch, who suffered a brain injury in 2011.
“The last mile, which is probably the toughest mile, is probably a reflection of Dave’s everyday life,” said Veidman.
For more information on running with the Omaha Running Club, visit www.omaharun.org.