The 36th Lincoln marathon and half-marathon this past Sunday was quite a scene. I've enjoyed the event in many capacities over the years: as a half marathon runner a few times, a police officer directing traffic several years, a aid station volunteer a couple times, and as a spectator on every other occasion. It's always been a top-notch experience. Lincoln's marathon is run on a flat, fast course. It gets tons of community support and spectators line vast stretches of the course, with lots of encouragement, refreshment, and entertainment. As a result, it has grown phenomenally in recent years. Capped at 10,000 entrants, this year's race was sold out within minutes of registration opening back in December.
Two years ago, Mayor Chris Beutler asked his department directors to come to our next weekly meeting with some outside-the-box ideas on how we could either reduce City expenses or increase economic activity. I brought three ideas to the table: mothball Pershing Auditorium, reduce the number of streetlights burning all night, and repave the Boosalis trail along Lincoln's stretch of Nebraska Highway 2. My idea was to boost the width of the trail to eliminate one the bottlenecks during the marathon that clog the course, so we could up the number of participants.
I'm sure I wasn't the first or only person with that idea, but it is gratifying that it is now going to happen. The marathon is a fantastic event for Lincoln, and creates a huge amount of economic activity, the subject of this article in yesterday's Lincoln Journal Star. Ramping the Lincoln marathon and half marathon up to 12,500 next year, and maybe even 15,000 thereafter will be a good thing, although it will also require more more logistics, and more emergency services.
The public safety team was meeting to consider the implications of the bombing at the Boston Marathon within a matter of minutes of its occurrence on April 15th. The enhanced security efforts at this years' Lincoln marathon were considerable, and some of these will undoubtedly be incorporated into future events. Hats off to Capt. Fehringer and his staff who did the bulk of the work coordinating the public safety response, but we got a big boost from some specialized military resources and from the Nebraska State Patrol's helicopter. Thanks to the police officers, firefighters, national guardsmen, troopers, soldiers, dispatchers, and volunteers who implemented the plan flawlessly.
P.S. My favorite costume this year had to be the guy in the gigantic sombrero who was greeting everyone in Spanish, fitting for a race held this year on Cinqo de Mayo. I'm sure the wind resistance from the head gear cost him several minutes!