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Paralympic marathon will be third Olympic event in Omaha area in 2021

Paralympic marathon will be third Olympic event in Omaha area in 2021

The flat section roads around sandpit lakes in western Douglas County will beckon runners in April for the delayed debut of the Valley O.NE Marathon.

The Omaha Sports Commission, in announcing the April 24 race, said it recruited the 2020 U.S. Paralympic Team selection event for ambulatory marathon classifications to the Valley-area course.

The commission now is the host for three U.S. Olympic and Paralympic competitions this year, adding to the U.S. Swim Trials in June and Curling Trials in November.

“Having what we believe to be the flattest course in the world is a source of pride for us in Valley,” race director Linda Kunasek said in a press release. “We intend to make our marathon a high-stakes Olympic and Boston qualifier, which adds to its legitimacy and will bring in some of the country’s best runners. After having to cancel our first two years of in-person racing, we’re all excited to start racing.”

The Valley O.NE Marathon organizers intended to hold an event in 2019, but the area was damaged from Platte River flooding, then last year brought the onset of the pandemic.

Their 26.2-mile course is believed to be among the flattest-known marathon courses in the world. There will be two 13.1-mile loops.

“No other city can boast of holding so many U.S. Olympic and Paralympic competitions in one year,” said Lindsay Toussant, OSC director of events. “And the U.S. 2020 Paralympic Team selection event should make the Valley O.NE Marathon's first year memorable. We cannot wait to showcase the great course in Valley and have runners competing again.”

Sherrice Fox, director of U.S. Paralympics Track & Field, said the hope is that Omaha will host more national Paralympic events.

Valley O.NE will offer kids’ races April 23 and a half-marathon April 24. A virtual option is also available for the half and full marathon. Runners can register for the races at valleyonemarathon.com/registration through April 3.