Seventy-two participants, many bringing along family members and dogs, took advantage of a 50-degree Saturday on March 13 to run, walk or jog a 10K or half marathon through Wilderness Park in the 10th annual Run for the Bridges.
The event netted $4,000 to help fund bridge repairs and replacements at the park.
“The run is really about raising awareness of Wilderness Park and what a gem it is so close to town,” said event founder and coordinator Rosina Paolini.
Paolini said she started the annual event 10 years ago to help bridge a gap in funding Wilderness Park bridges. At the March 13 event, she noted that Bentonville, Arkansas, is known for having eco-tourists ride the trails and spend money in town.
“Lincoln has that potential with great riding, running and hiking trails in the metropolitan area,” Paolini said. “There just needs to be investment in connecting the trails in the park.”
In 10 years, Run for the Bridges has raised $73,000 to help maintain and replace Wilderness Park bridges.
“Today, three bridges later, the trails are more connected and the trailhead parking lots are full,” Paolini said.
For the next project, park users are requesting replacement of the 65-foot Hinterlands bridge, which extends over a Salt Creek tributary and was declared unstable and closed in 2019. The bridge connects the Old Cheney Road and South 14th Street trailheads on the park’s east side.
While it’s less expensive to reroute the trails onto the Jamaica trail, many park users want to stay in Wilderness Park and see the trails connected within the park, Paolini said.
“The Jamaica Trail has a different group of folks who want to ride something straight and wide, and that is great, too. They are out in nature,” she added.
Event proceeds have also been set aside to replace signage in the next few months with new kiosks at each trailhead with directional maps, she said.
Run for the Bridges funds are matched with city dollars and investments from the Great Plains Trails Network, along with several sponsors. Ten-year sponsors have included Lincoln Running Company, Moose’s Tooth/CycleWorks, Open Harvest, Leon's Gourmet Grocers, Screen Ink and Complete Family Dermatology.