In 2007, I started running and I had a silly idea to have a team running relay from Omaha to Lincoln. One of the reasons I felt that it was possible was because I discovered the Lied Bridge across the Platte River existed. This was before Google Maps existed, so I hopped on my dad’s 1970 road bike and rode around figuring out how to connect the Old Market to Haymarket via roads, bike trails, and backroads. Amazingly, the course worked! Then the hard work began spending 18 months figuring out the rest of the tiny details.
I am personally disappointed that the race won’t be able to use the Lied Bridge for the 2019 race. Due to unprecedented flooding earlier this year, the MoPac Trail from Buffalo Road to across the Lied Bridge are under repair and closed to all users for the remainder of 2019. As many of you know this early flood caused a huge amount of destruction in the state of Nebraska, so I like to keep things in perspective knowing that many people were far more impacted than we will be from the flood…
What sections of the course did the flood impact?
This means we won’t be able to use about 8 miles of trail and the Lied Bridge across the Platte River for the 2019 Market to Market Relay. View the 2019 Interactive Course Map here >
- If you are familiar with the course Buffalo Road is 2.7 miles south of the Springfield Exchange and the Lied Bridge is the pedestrian foot bridge that crosses the Platte River.
- The crushed limestone trail from Buffalo Road to Lied Bridge has closed sections with no safe alternative routes and then Lied Bridge is closed with no safe (or approved) alternative route.
- The Good News: From what we have heard this section will likely be repaired by the 2020 race.
If there is no safe route across the Platte River, how does the course change for the 2019 Market to Market Relay?
I am glad you asked. We came up with the best (and only solution) that we are calling the 2019 Halftime!
Essentially, the halftime means all runners will get in your team van and drive to the next exchange point. Your drive time won’t count towards your team’s running total time (cough, cough: there is no reason to speed in your car to get from Buffalo Road to Platte River). We will have timing mats where your team runner stops running at Buffalo Road and then your next runner starts running at the Platte River Exchange.
- More is outlined on Page 26 of the Race Guide. View the Race Guide here >
- Here is the online course section if you want to study the maps
We looked at many options and this was the only safe choice and the one required by all of our permits.
If you have run multiple years of the Market to Market Relay you’ve probably noticed that the course often changes from year to year. Sometimes these changes are minor and sometimes they are major. The reason of the changes also ranges from improvements to unfortunately we had to due to natural elements, growing cities, construction, etc.
However, this is the first time we aren’t able to create a work around solution where participants run and pass the baton from one runner to the next from Start to Finish. We have conducted 20 Market to Market Relay races in 3 different states, so when we say unprecedented… we mean unprecedented.
Here are some of the past, most memorable course changes:
- 2009: “Year of the Snow” It snowed six inches in the morning. The earliest snow in Nebraska since the late 1800s. We had to make a several race day decisions, with the most noticeable to alter the 310th & Mynard to Murdock section because of ice on 310th Street. We received an early report that 310th Street had sections of black ice on it in the morning. The best and safest decision was to alter the course to run on gravel roads. This resulted in a race day switch-a-roo from a 3.6 mile route to 6.0 mile route. Favorite runner quote from that year? “That was the day I became a real runner”
- 2011: “Goodbye Old Market to Haymarket” Major flooding of the Missouri River in the spring/summer of 2011 created large sections of the original running route under water. Approximately ⅓ of the original race course was altered. The new route started in Memorial Park and followed much of the current course. We were sad to no longer be running from the Old Market to the Haymarket, but the new course allowed the race to have bigger parking lots and expand the number of teams from the 250 team cap due to limited parking at exchange points.
- 2014: “Removal of Several Road Pull Off Exchanges” As the race evolved, we began to improve the course either working with farmers, land owners, or private properties to use their property for the race. This year we eliminated the 120th and Fairview exchange point and started the partnership with Nebraska Christian College. In addition, we eliminated the 162nd Exchange and started the partnership with Dove Landing Vineyard. We continued this trend and only a few “pull offs” remain.
- 2015: “Aksarben Village Start Line” The start line was switched to Aksarben Village after being in Memorial Park since 2011. It is strange to think from 2008 to 2014 the only people that saw the Pink Gorilla were each teams lead runner (Runner 1). In the “old days”, teams dropped their runner off at the start and waited at exchange 2.
Of course there have been many other minor, major, and race day changes that we either forced to make or made in order to improve your experience. We just wanted you to know that we care about this race, its runners and their experience. We have a team of people working year round to make it an awesome day. This year it will continue to be an awesome day — just your entire team gets to hang out in the van together for a short period. Sit back, enjoy the ride, and soak in the memories.
Thanks for understanding and for your continued support!
-Ben Cohoon & Entire Pink Gorilla Events Team