Barefoot Rick's Omaha Marathon Report - September 23, 2007
What a fantastic weekend! You know it's going to be a "barefoot runners' event(s)" when the race director months before puts out the word that she is creating the first-ever barefoot divisions for the marathon, half-marathon, and 10K distances. Of course this caused quite a buzz in our small circle of continental barefoot runners. The anticipation leading up to this weekend turned out to be complementary of the actual events.
We packed up the car on Friday -- the wife, my 17 year old daughter and a girl friend of hers -- and drove the 200 miles from Kansas City to Omaha. Other than blowing a fuse from a struggling air conditioning unit, we had no other problems and arrived in Omaha around 10:30 p.m. We settled into the Embassy Suites in downtown Omaha and sacked out pretty quick.
Chatting with a fellow runner at the Soles For Soles table at the Expo
Next day, we went to the expo for a while to pick up my packet and to set up a table for a couple of hours to see about getting a few donations for the Soles For Souls campaign. We walked in the front door of the expo and there was Ken Bob, Sterling (IC Tiger), and Julian hanging out. (For those of you that don't know, these are a few of my barefoot running compadres' from around the country). After a brief chat, I went over and sat up my Soles For Souls stuff at a table close to packet pick up. I had a great time talking to lots of folks in the couple of hours that I was there about barefoot running and the homeless work that Soles For Souls is doing with the Kansas City Rescue Mission. Some gave change and loose dollars to the cause, which was of course appreciated immensely. Later that day, the family and I took a drive to Lincoln to look at the University of Nebraska where my daughter is considering going next year. We got stuck in traffic as the Huskers were finishing their game about the time we got there. All in all, it was a great time visiting the campus and various university buildings. Saturday night, we got back to Omaha and had a great dinner at the Spaghetti Works in Old Town Omaha. I turned in early knowing the 5:30 a.m. wake-up call would come before I knew it.
Waking at 5:30, I got dressed and headed down to the start line a little after 6 for the 7 a.m. start. Susie Smisek the race director had mentioned that she would like me to push Crazy Leonard in his wheelchair the first mile. (Leonard ran scores of marathons until he was restricted to a wheelchair. This was his 100th marathon and others would take turns pushing him to the finish.) Julian found me and we chatted for a few minutes. I then went and found Susie and she said she did want me to push Leonard for the first mile but also asked me up to the podium to say a few words. I thanked everyone for coming and told them that you don't have to be a "Crazy Leonard" or a barefoot runner to be special in this morning's events, but that they were all winners for showing up and participating. It was an honor to be able to say a few words.
We lined up a little before 7 a.m. and I was off with Leonard heading out on our 26.2 mile sojourn. (That was the first time I was ever in the lead of a marathon for the first mile, and will probably be the last! Ha!) To be honest, I thought it would be fairly easy pushing a wheelchair. WRONG! It took a bunch of extra energy that first mile because there were some notable hills. I do, however, remember going down one hill at the end of my one mile "push" that was kind of fun. Leonard was doing all the work as his chair took off and I was just holding on enjoying being dragged along.
Dismissing myself to the next Leonard relay runner at mile 2, I said adieu to Leonard and struck out on my own at a faster pace. I was doing about a 9:10 pace with Leonard and I then fell into my 8:40 pace that I maintained the rest of the marathon. At about mile 5 or 6, Chris (Marathon Maniac #2) introduced himself. Can you believe that organization is now up to around 600 marathon runners? It was great to meet Chris, and then a little later on I saw Maniac Amy Yanni from the Coolrunning Boomer's Forum. I hadn't seen Amy since Olathe when I had met her husband Frank and their beautiful greyhound, Frank.
The first 13 miles were notably hilly as we wound back through downtown and out south through the Omaha Zoo and then back downtown. I fell in with a 3:45 minute pace group at about mile 16 and hung with them for a bit. They took off, but I met the guy with the 3:45 sign that he was carrying to pace the others at about mile 21. He was cramping in his calves, so I asked him if he wanted me to take his sign and catch up with the group. He was glad to give it to me, so I hurried up and caught one guy that the pacer was pacing but I couldn't find the rest of the group. No matter. We cruised along and I was cutting up with the spectators as we went along. It was getting pretty hot by then, going on 10:30 a.m. and probably up in the 80s F.
To make a long story longer, we continued on until we were once again down by the river and heading for the Qwest Center which was directly adjacent to the Start/Finish area. With a hundred yards to go, there was Ken Bob snapping a picture of yours truly. Then, I saw Julian who I found out later finished 45 minutes before me (a remarkable 3 hour and ten second marathon for a 4th place overall finish!). I sailed into the finisher's chute at 3:46:50. I felt extremely good about my time, since I went into the marathon only really wanting a sub-4 hour finish.
Barefoot Rick and Barefoot Jeffrey
Barefoot Rick, Barefoot Julian, Barefoot Ken Bob and Barefoot Jeffrey
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We barefooters hung out for an hour or so until they called out the barefoot division awards. Julian came in first in the barefoot marathon division and I came in second. There was a guy named Chad Novak that none of us had heard of that finished 3rd place barefoot in a little over 4 hours. Ken Bob came in first in the half-marathon barefoot category. And Jeffrey and Sterling came in first and second, respectively, in the 10K barefoot division.
We needed to check out of the hotel so I took my nice marble and engraved award and boogied back to the hotel where there was time for a quick shower and then the hot drive (no a/c) back to Kansas City. It was well worth it, though. The weekend was a great success and a whole bunch of fun. Next year, will Omaha have barefoot divisions? They are already planning for it!!
Barefoot Rick Radio Interview - 9/22/07
Omaha Marathon: New Faces At Finish: Barefoot Runner Finishes Fourth
WOWTV Interview of Barefoot Julian and Barefoot Rick
Finish Time -
3:46:50 (8:40 Pace)
49th Marathon (26.2 Miles or Ultra Distance)
31st Consecutive Barefoot Marathon Since April 2004
*I am a marathon runner and do not prescribe to a run/walk method for MY marathons. Likewise, I do not judge anyone else for "finishing" a marathon in whatever way they can propel themselves across the finish line, whether it be walking, crawling, etc. All marathon finishes are notable in their own regard.
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