The Oregon Trail Run of Nebraska is in its fourth year Oct. 26 as runners from several states will take to scenic River Road to run a full or half marathon.
Most half or full marathons are on concrete, so when the Oregon Trail Run comes around once a year, Stephanie Boldt goes for it.
“The gravel under your feet and crispness in the air make this one give what most marathons don’t,” Boldt said.
October brings the fall colors and a morning chill for the runners, who have made the trek in comfortable weather all four years.
Boldt is on the trail run committee and she will run the half marathon again this year.
“We’re growing the race. We are striving for more runners this year than last,” she said.
Runners can register online by following the link on the Oregon Trail Run of Nebraska Facebook page. Thayer County residents may register on paper and receive a discount.
“Contact us on Facebook. We will also have a booth at the fair under “Oregon Trail,” Boldt said.
The committee is made up of Jeff Friesen, Mark Varner, Blythe Norder, Ann Hubl, Mark Leonard, Trudy Degenhardt and Boldt. The event’s official photographer is Art Whitton.
Boldt, who is the chief operating officer for Thayer County Health Services, is excited to be a part of the committee because she is learning more. She is active, also helping to coach youth baseball, softball and soccer.
Friesen, who coordinated the first Oregon Trail run, said the committee is stepping up to register more runners, although they have stayed consistent.
“The biggest year was the first year. It’s typically what you see in a race. People are curious and run it,” he said. “We are starting to see people from a couple of years ago.”
Boldt encourages local runners to join the race.
“Our goal is to have someone from every town in Thayer County,” she said. “The relay is a good opportunity for that.”
The Pony Express Half-Marathon Relay is four legs with each runner’s distance estimated at 3.275 miles. Just like the original Pony Express, runners transfer a “mochilla” that carries the team number and timing chip.
The full marathon start time is 8 a.m., with the Hebron Bible Church providing a ride to the starting line at 7:30 a.m. At 9 a.m., the half marathoners will be transported from the church for a 10 a.m., start. Everyone finishes at Roosevelt Park.
The evening before, there will be an Oregon Trail Kids Run and spaghetti feed hosted at the Hebron Activity Center. Runners will also pick up their race packets at the feed.
While in the race, the runners need cheers from the roadside, Boldt said.
“Some are running 26 miles. They need encouragement,” she said. “We want them to come back to the county. We’re getting our name out and want people drawn to our community. We are showcasing our town and our county.”
Spectators are welcome to come and watch, and cheer. Volunteers are needed for water stations between 9 a.m., and 12 p.m. The committee is trying to rally businesses and individuals to set up water stations. Spectators can also hand out cups of water.
“It’s a huge motivator for the runners,” Boldt said. “The more people we involve, the better. It makes it more fun for our runners and group.”
She said people can be creative at water stations or spectating. Volunteers may also direct traffic.