Nebraska State Fair Marathon 2015 – Race Report

Marathons: Paul #73, Leah #63 : Nebraska State Fair Marathon 2015
29th August 2015, Grand Island, Nebraska, USA
Finish Time = 3:41:45

Less than 2 weeks after the grueling Pikes Peak Marathon it was time for our 2nd attempt at a sub 4-hour marathon in the State of Nebraska. Last year’s attempt didn’t go too well in respects to the time and this one was our last chance for the year.

We drove over from Denver, on one long straight road. I had a laugh at the Sat Nav (US: GPS) when it showed “In 395 miles, turn right”. This is something you’re not ever likely to see driving in the UK. We hadn’t realised we were actually going to change timezones driving to Grand Island, the last time we visited Nebraska we didn’t cross into another one as we were further west. It still seems strange that you can be in 2 different timezones in the same State. Luckily we ended up arriving just in time to pick up our race packets before heading to the hotel and to sleep.

In the morning we drove over and parked in the State Fairgrounds. Logistics were pretty easy, you just have to remember to bring your complimentary entry tickets with you as you are entering the actual State Fair.


It was the second year the event was being run and for a small event (75 people last year), they gave out some pretty good prize money. $1,000 for 1st, $500 for 2nd and $250 for 3rd place. What’s more, they give that out for males and separately for females. In the previous year the $1,000 went to a female who ran 2:50, but the $500 for 2nd went to a female who ran 3:42 with $250 to a woman that ran 3:57. It looked like Leah could be in with a chance of winning some prize money! However… when we turned up just about everyone else had cottoned on to this too and there were some fast looking people there. Then when we saw that a group of Kenyans had arrived we knew there was no chance.

We lined up and just before the race began we spotted our friend Heather, also aiming to finish her 50 Sub 4 challenge this year. She too had noticed from the previous year’s results that she could have been in for a chance for prize money too, but said exactly what we were thinking about the crowd that had showed up this year.

Seeing Heather at the start. Photo credit: Heather Zeigler

Seeing Heather at the start. Photo credit: Heather Zeigler

We set off and soon realised how bizarre it was running in 100% humidity. Luckily it wasn’t hot and the sun hadn’t come out yet, the air was just full of mist water, it was like running through a cloud, including very limited visibility in front. Every now and again the water droplets would accumulate enough on you that a cool stream would just run down your face. We ended up soaked yet it wasn’t raining, it felt like we were sweating but it wasn’t hot. We ran with Heather, discussing the 50 sub 4 States and it turned out another runner next to us, Kristal, was just qualifying that day with her 10th sub 4 State. We ended up running with Kristal for at least half of the race, talking about races and trading stories, the miles flew by.

The course was a mixture of roads and sidewalks, all the roads were well coned off from traffic and the aid stations were all very well manned along with cheering supporters. We had brought our own small handheld bottles which we were thankful for; in the humidity you do lose moisture faster so we were glad to be able to drink whenever we felt like it. However if you don’t like carrying a bottle, the aid stations are frequent enough that you should be fine.

We were running strong and on course for a time in the 3:30s, Leah started to struggle in the last few miles though so we dialled it back a bit. After a last section running through some neighbourhoods we saw the re-entry gates to the State Fairgrounds. We ran through the finish in 3 hours 41 and I was awarded my medal by Heather’s daughter who was volunteering for the day!

With a time that would have won Leah 2nd place female last year and $500, she wasn’t even in the top 10 females this year! She placed 12th female and didn’t even win an age group award. The top 3 men were all Kenyans, finishing in 2:30, 2:31 and 2:32, the winner had previously run times close to Olympic Qualifying standards. The female winner was also Kenyan, finishing in 2:38 and 5th overall. Both winners picked up a nice $1,000 and a bonus $500 for breaking the course record for each gender. In total there were 160 finishers instead of the 75 last year, so word of the prize money definitely brought people to the event!

We were happy though, we’d had a good time at a friendly, enjoyable event as well as easily earning our sub 4 at Nebraska and overcoming any concerns about being able to do it so close to completing Pikes Peak. At 48 States and 45 Sub 4 States it’s really now starting to feel real!



Elevation Graph from my running watch:

Nothing to worry about here, note the scale. Course is described as the fastest and flattest in the nation

Nothing to worry about here, note the scale. Course is described as the fastest and flattest in the nation

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