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Organizers say Omaha Marathon will be held as planned
special report

Organizers say Omaha Marathon will be held as planned

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The Omaha Marathon is scheduled for Sept. 20.

Organizers of the Omaha Marathon say their race is going on as scheduled this fall.

The race, in its 45th year, is scheduled for Sept. 20.

“We think there is a way we can put on a safe race,” marathon organizer John Eickman said.

Last year’s event, which also included a half-marathon and 10K, 5K and 1-mile runs, drew a little over 1,000 runners.

A cap won’t be placed on the running field this year. But other precautions will be instituted to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Runners will have their temperatures taken before entering the race site. Anyone with a temperature of 99 degrees or higher won’t be allowed in, Eickman said.

This year, five starting chutes will be spaced 6 feet apart. Start times will be staggered to allow for space between runners at the starting line and on the course.

Signage and volunteers will remind runners to practice social distancing. Runners will be required to wear face coverings at the race site, while preparing for the start and at the starting line. They will have to carry the coverings with them along the course and should put them on if they need to stop or can’t continue with the race.

Organizers from the New York-based HITS Endurance also hope to limit large gatherings of spectators, particularly at the start and finish lines.

Registration is open for the race and remains open until the Friday before race day.

Should the race be canceled or rescheduled, runners would be able to receive a refund of their registration fee or to defer their entry to next year’s race.

“There are a lot of runners out there who don’t have a race who want a race,” Eickman said. “If we can provide that, we’re going to do it.”

Because the Omaha Marathon could draw 1,000 runners or more, organizers will need approval from the Douglas County Health Department to hold the event. Organizers have been in touch with Health Department officials regarding what they need to do.

There’s no deadline to submit an application, said Andy Wessel, supervisor of the Health Department’s information line, but it will take some time to process. Health Department officials offered examples to Omaha Marathon organizers of precautions that other races across the country are taking.

“The other wrinkle is that we don’t know where the precautions, where the directed health measure will be come race time,” Wessel said. “That’s the struggle with all of this.”

The pandemic spurred Corporate Cup organizers to cancel this year’s fall race. Instead, the race will permanently move to the spring.

In Lincoln, organizers of the Good Life Halfsy announced that that race will go on this November. But it will be capped at 3,500 runners, down from the 6,500 it typically draws.

The Heartland Marathon, another fall race hosted in Omaha, is still planning for its Sept. 27 date. Should things change, a final decision will be made by July 15, organizers said.

The Nebraska Marathon, set for Oct. 11 in Omaha, is still on, too. But organizers are monitoring the health situation and will make changes as necessary so runners are safe.

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