Marathoners on the Keystone trail just north of Q St. during the Heartland Marathon's first annual race in 2015.

With the threat of flooding looming, runners should prepare for an alternate race course at this Sunday’s Heartland Marathon.

The race was initially set to start at Lewis & Clark Landing, taking runners past the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, across Veterans Memorial Bridge and into Iowa. Trails would take them along the riverfront trail to return to the finish line.

But the portion of trails runners would use are expected to be underwater.

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Now runners will start at Lewis & Clark Landing, heading north toward the River City Star. Then they’ll turn back south, cross the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge and head north before returning to the start. The new route does not take runners by the zoo or over the Veterans Memorial Bridge. 10K runners will tackle the loop once. Half-marathoners will run the course twice, and full marathoners will run it four times.


“Under the circumstances, we think it’s a good option,” said race director Tom Whitaker. “Four loops is not necessarily ideal, but four trips across the Bob isn’t all that bad.”

The race, in its fifth year, is expected to draw about 700 runners.

Organizers ran into a course snag in the race’s first year, too. That year, the course was denied weeks before the race because police didn’t have the manpower to staff the route. Instead of taking runners from Aksarben Village to downtown, the inaugural event was hosted on the Keystone Trail.

Organizers of the Nebraska Marathon, which is Sept. 29, are also preparing alternate routes, but changes have not been finalized.

The routes take runners along a riverfront trail on the Iowa side of the Missouri River. Organizers are looking at options on both sides of the river and communicating with city officials.

“We are in back-up plan mode right now,” said race co-director Joe Sutter. “We’ll be out there looking at other options to get the mileage in.”

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