Katie Maire’s marathon was canceled last year.
Floodwaters had wrecked the course for the Valley 7 Lakes Marathon.
What were the odds that the two marathons she signed up for this year would face a similar fate?
High, it turns out.
Both of the 26.2-mile races Maire registered for this year, including Valley 7 Lakes, have shifted to virtual formats because of coronavirus-related safety concerns.
Organizers announced the change to the Valley 7 Lakes Marathon, originally set for Saturday, earlier this week.
Other local races that have made the format change include the Lincoln Marathon and the Early Bird. The Boston Marathon was postponed until the fall.
The Valley race, which includes half- and full-marathon distances, has been touted as offering runners a glimpse at “small-town charm” and a flat course.
Runners who signed up for the race now can tackle the virtual run between Saturday and May 31. They’re encouraged to share their experience on the event’s Facebook page. Race swag will be mailed to participants.
Maire, 26, spent a recent Friday afternoon completing her virtual marathon on the West Papio Trail.
One perk of running it solo: She got to pick a day with nice weather. It helped, too, that she ran on the same trails where she got her training miles in.
Her fiancé acted as a mobile aid station, riding his bike along the trail and refilling her water bottle.
But the 26.2-mile run lacked the same race-day experience. No crowds. No finish line.
“It definitely lacked the hurrah at the end. I finished and it was just over. It was definitely lonely,” Maire said.
But finishing the run still was special, Maire said. And the social media support from the running community also helped.
Fellow runner Amber Welch said she’s happy to see that the motivation for runners is still there.
The Omahan was set to run a marathon in Kansas this month. Welch, a 34-year-old nurse practitioner, had hoped race directors would lay out an alternate plan.
“I’m thankful that they did. It was a responsible decision,” she said.
Welch ran loops around the trails at Schramm Park State Recreation Area. A handful of other runners were completing virtual races at the same time. She set up an aid station in the back of her car with water and snacks.
Like Maire, Welch found the race-day experience missing.
“It was really sad, because nobody’s cheering you on and you can’t cheer anyone on,” Welch said. “The adrenaline from other runners definitely pushes people.”