The Omaha Marathon's new owners drew criticism from runners after Sunday's race.
Director Mark Wilson acknowledged the shortcomings and responded to negative comments about the race on social media. He said Tuesday that the concerns are “easily fixable” for next year.
HITS Endurance, a national event-production company based in New York, purchased the rights to the Omaha Marathon earlier this year for an undisclosed amount. The Omaha race was the company's first running event.
Roughly 4,000 people participated in the 10K, half and full marathon courses. Though runners praised the flat course and aid stations, the event failed to meet expectations for some who emailed organizers and expressed their concerns on Facebook.
Among the complaints:
» Runners missed turnaround points on the out-and-back routes.
» Water was available at the finish line, but post-race fuel, such as oranges and bananas, was not. Runners had to climb steps and walk down a ramp to reach the food that HITS provided.
» There were not enough portable restrooms along the course.
» The route took runners inside TD Ameritrade Park, where they ran on the warning track, but then exited the stadium to cross the finish line.
» The bag-drop area was not closed off to those who walked by.
» The men were given moisture-wicking shirts and the women's shirts were cotton, though they paid the same race entry fee.
» The shirts and race bibs were not Omaha Marathon-specific, but promoted HITS Endurance.
» At the start line, runners were not directed to the back of the line. Instead, runners had to maneuver through the crowd, causing some congestion and confusion.
“To me, that's simple stuff,” said David Kohrell, who participated in the full marathon. The Lincoln runner applauded the volunteers and complimented the route and aid stations, but said the race logistically was “really hit and miss — and more miss.”
Wilson said the HITS staff has adjusted the plans for next year's event.
Men and women will receive a long-sleeved unisex cotton shirt. The phrase, “Omaha Marathon” will be featured prominently on the shirt, as well as the race bib. Post-race fuel will be available at the finish line. An announcer will help direct runners toward the appropriate spot behind the starting line.
Wilson also addressed other complaints, saying volunteers were present at the turnaround points, which were marked with signs and orange cones; some portable restrooms in the Carter Lake area were stolen; and Omaha Running Club volunteers supervised the bag-drop area, where nothing was “in danger of being stolen.”
The course will continue to feature TD Ameritrade Park, but “there's no way (park officials are) going to let us finish in there,” Wilson said, referring to concerns of damaging the field.
He said he's confident next year's race will be better and bigger.
“Eight-thousand people are going to be there (in 2014), and we're going to crush it,” Wilson said.
He invited runners with concerns to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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