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Runners warmed up and ready to go as marathon returns to Lincoln streets
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Runners warmed up and ready to go as marathon returns to Lincoln streets

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Lincoln Marathon

Runner Jim Baker of Lincoln grabs a water from Kevin Strasburg near Holmes Lake during the marathon in 2018.

A year ago, Sydney Reed ran the Lincoln Marathon, but admits it was a long haul minus the traditional fanfare.

No motivation from hundreds of fellow runners. No encouragement from the people who annually turn out along the course, holding signs and playing instruments.

Reed, of Holdrege, said she participated in the virtual race last year but was excited to get to run "for real" this time around.

“I’m super excited for the route and getting to do it with other people versus last year just doing it on our own,” said Reed, who will be among nearly 5,000 runners set to start the race early Sunday on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus.

The now familiar course will take runners down Sheridan Boulevard and through College View, and for those aiming to complete the full 26-mile marathon, out and back from Holmes Lake before finishing in one of the last scheduled events at Ed Weir Stadium.

Lincoln Marathon map, 2021

Coronavirus precautions limited the field to less than half of its normal size, and some of the traditional events — the Mayor's Run and pasta feed — weren't held this year.

But runners looking to shake out their legs and draw from some pre-race enthusiasm headed to Fleet Feet, a retail store in east Lincoln, on Saturday morning. 

The store usually hosts a shakeout run before the marathon each year but decided to expand this year and offered pancakes and smoothies for runners who warmed up over a 2-mile course, store owner Lori Borer said.

“It's a good way for people to get their legs loose before the race tomorrow,” she said.

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Lincoln resident Alie Gillespie said she ran her first full marathon in October and is excited to run Sunday. She said she was glad to see races returning to Lincoln.

“Overall, I’m just really excited to be back and having a race,” she said. “I'm running with one of my best friends, so it's going to be great.”

She said it was fun to gather with other runners Saturday morning in anticipation of the race.

“I think it’s so fun, always, being around runners,” she said.

The 2020 Lincoln Marathon was canceled because of the pandemic. As a replacement, the marathon hosted a virtual race where runners could choose their own path to complete a half- or full marathon.

Phillip Herzog of Hickman said he ran the Lincoln Marathon in 2019 and runs regularly but is excited to have races to look forward to again.

“Now that they're back, it’s motivating to get started again," he said.

Borer said she understood why many of this year's pre-race events were canceled but was glad her store was able to provide a fun, safe event Saturday.

“I think, overall, as a community, this is the best we can do and people are excited for it,” she said. “So it's been great.”

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Reach the writer at lstephens@journalstar.com or 402-473-7241.

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Luna Stephens is a journalism student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who is originally from Lawrence, Kansas and is passionate about the transformative power of journalism.

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