Running the Extra Mile


Macey Wahl, Staff Writer

When Spanish teacher Ryan Sutter was growing up, he wasn’t much of a runner and neither was his dad, but as they both aged, they got into running. Sutter’s dad, Joe, asked him one day if he would like to run a half marathon with him.

Ryan Sutter didn’t train for the race and had never ran more than six miles at a time. He was pretty exhausted after the 11th mile.

“In high school I did cross-country for one year but was never very serious about it,” Ryan Sutter said. “Looking back I really wish I would have stuck with it and push myself harder. My dad didn’t get into running until he was older, and I got into it in high school but I was never really serious about running until after college.”

Ryan Sutter and his dad, Joe, founded the Nebraska Marathon together in 2014 with the first race taking place on Oct. 18th, 2015, and 900 runners participated in this half-marathon. They started at Turner Park at Midtown Crossing and crossed the finish line at the Lewis and Clark Landing. The first full marathon held in Omaha in 2016. 

“My dad Joe and I started this race because we felt that Omaha needed a marathon ran by local organizers who cared about the running community,” Ryan Sutter said. “Another big race in town had been bought out by a company out of New York that was running the operations. People in the city really embraced our race and loved our #RunLocal campaign. After the success of the Nebraska Marathon we decided to start a spring race called the OmaHalf.”

Sutter and his dad don’t usually participate in the races because they are the race directors. This means they’re busy organizing the start and finish, monitoring the course, and ensuring the safety and smoothness of the operations.

“My main motivation now is to qualify for the Boston Marathon,” Ryan Sutter said. “I think many long-distance runners agree there’s a certain appeal to this race and are drawn to try and qualify by running a fast enough time. The history, tradition and difficulty of qualification makes it such a unique event. It takes some pretty serious dedication and training, but I love trying to always get faster and improve upon my marathon times. I have ran three full marathons and love competing against the clock and against myself.”

These races generally have around a thousand runners from the Omaha Metro and all racers who finish receive a medal. Most of the races take a route through the Old Market in Omaha. The Nebraska Marathon organization has raised tens of thousands of dollars for the Pediatric Cancer Action Network in Omaha. 

“The Pediatric Cancer Action Network is a nonprofit organization that raises money to reduce the financial burden of families diagnosed with pediatric cancer and to advocate for a cure through awareness, education and action,” Ryan Sutter said. “PCAN is an organization that we have worked with for a long time”

Since 2015, the race has raised a total of $27,000 for this organization. The amount goes up every year with more runners taking on the task of running a marathon. They offer full marathons, half marathons and 5k’s every year. The next set of races is scheduled for September 29th, 2019. Many local businesses and sponsors, including the Omaha Police Department, volunteer in the race to guarantee that it goes smoothly.

“Founding and organizing Nebraska Marathon has been an extremely rewarding experience,” Ryan Sutter said. “We have gotten to know so many runners in the Omaha and surrounding communities.”

Joe and Ryan Sutter puts in work into organizing the races and all the runners to ensure they do their best and also improving his own times in hope to run the Boston Marathon. Sutter wanted to create a route which was scenic and give the Omaha runners a breathtaking experience, and they’ve accomplished just that.