Runners took off as the sun hid behind the clouds on Sunday morning for the start of the Chris Jarvis Autumn River Run marathon, half-marathon and 5K.
A light drizzle and cool temperatures were welcomed by the competitors as the weather helped keep body temperatures at reasonable levels. Eddie Walters of Omaha set a new record for the marathon with a time of 2 hours, 39 minutes, 11 seconds, which was 23.88 minutes ahead of second-place runner Travis Kovarik of Kearney. Abby Knight of Omaha won the overall women’s marathon in a time of 3:11:36.
“The conditions were gorgeous,” Walters said. “It’s usually hot and humid all summer, so a nice, cool day like this is perfect.”
Walters said this was marathon No. 35 for him and he just missed setting his personal best.
“I was a couple of seconds off my best,” Walters said. “I cramped up about mile 22 and it was kind of a jog in from there. I would have crushed it today, but my calf didn’t want it, but that’s all right.”
The key to running marathons, Walters said, is not to go out too fast.
“You’ve just got to see how if feels, find something that’s comfortable and just click from there,” Walters said. “Today, luckily I had a guy who was running the half-marathon, and he wanted to do about 1 (hour) 18 (minutes) or 1:19, so him and I were just clipping along having a good time the first half and the second half I was like, let’s just see what happens.”
The route was new this year with the full marathoners circling through twice for the 26.2-mile distance.
“It was nice that it was a two-loop course because you had so many people out there to cheer you on,” Walters said. “I have some family out here so this is great. My grandpa got to watch me race today for the first time, so it was good to see that.”
Walters said he loved the race and wants to come back. He has qualified and run in the Boston Marathon seven times, including last year, but will not be participating this year.
Katie Pinkerton of North Platte ran her first half marathon in a time of 2:21. She is originally from Omaha, but works for the Social Security office in North Platte now.
“Honestly, my dad, who lives in Omaha, decided to get back into running about a year ago and I had kind of foolishly made the mention that ‘you could come run the half-marathon,’” Pinkerton said. “He turns 63 next Saturday and I thought what a cool thing to do before your birthday.”
However, her dad read something into the invitation that Pinkerton didn’t anticipate.
“Well, I didn’t realize I was actually volunteering myself to do that as well,” Pinkerton said. “The next week he called me and asked, ‘So how’d your run go this morning.’ I’m like, I didn’t run.”
Her dad told her they would be running in October.
“I’m like, all right, so, basically by default, I kind of got roped into it,” Pinkerton said. “But it’s been awesome. We’ve been training together and doing all that.”
Pinkerton has been running with race director Trudy Merritt and others as well.
“(My dad and I) have been conversing through text on our Saturday runs,” Pinkerton said. “It was an awesome experience, really good.”
She was impressed with the effort from the volunteers.
“The community does such a good job with all the aid stations and the atmosphere is so good, so much encouragement,” Pinkerton said.
Merritt said the Autumn River Run started in 2007 as a 5K.
“But this is the fourth year with a marathon and half-marathon and 5K,” Merritt said. “This is our largest (number of competitors) and we had a new route this year featuring our trails.”