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Despite an early morning downpour, thousands of runners flooded Aksarben Village for the 33rd annual Corporate Cup on Sunday.
It marked the first time that the event didn't start at the Civic Auditorium in downtown Omaha.
More than 10,000 people registered for the 10K- and 2-mile races, though organizers estimated that fewer actually participated because of the short-lived rain.
Still, Aksarben Village was bustling. A steady stream of cars headed toward the central Omaha development, slowing traffic on Center Street around 7 a.m., but no one complained of parking problems.
Before the race began, throngs of runners huddled under building overhangs, opened umbrellas and donned ponchos to stay dry.
The rain had tapered off to a sprinkle by the time the announcer said, “On your mark, get set, go!” at 8 a.m. A few minutes after the race began, even that subsided.
The cooler weather was a welcome respite from the recent heat, runners said.
“I don't mind running in the rain,” said Eric Rasmussen. “I actually kind of like it.”
Rasmussen of York, Neb., won the 10K, finishing in 32 minutes and 23 seconds.
“It's a lot more turns than I'm used to, and it was fairly hilly but nothing crazy,” the 31-year-old said.
Andrew Bridger of Omaha said the 10K course was much harder this year, compared to the flat route downtown at previous Corporate Cups.
The hills created a sense of camaraderie among the runners, though, said the 26-year-old.
“Everyone was cheering when we got to the bottom,” he said. “I had a great time.”
Though the race was more challenging, most participants seemed pleased with the change of scenery.
“I love Aksarben Village,” said Kelsey Bauer. “It's a good environment. There's a lot of open space here.”
Bauer, 30, ran the 10K with family members in honor of her grandmother, who recently died of lung cancer.
The Corporate Cup is the annual fundraiser for the American Lung Association's local chapter. The event is now Aksarben Village's largest single-day event.
As runners crossed the finish line at 67th Street and Mercy Road, most lingered to chat with friends, drink some water, listen to a live band playing at Stinson Park and receive a free mini-cupcake from Jones Bros. Cupcakes.
Sixth-graders Grace Kinsella and Karagin Ruff, both of Iowa, ran the 2-mile course because their parents promised to upgrade their cupcakes to the full-size versions if they finished.
Grace chose red velvet, and Karagin picked German chocolate.
Although the cupcake line stretched out the door, there seemed little else to complain about.
Sgt. Jerry Martinez of the Omaha Police Department oversaw road closures and traffic for the event. There were no major problems, he said, and the event “ran very smoothly.”
Event organizer Lisa Sypal said her staff and volunteers didn't experience any notable snags either, although the finish line area was a bit congested, and some people had a trouble reaching the water stations.