Approximately fourteen thousand people of all ages and walks-of-life took to the streets, trails, parks and, eventually, Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska on Sunday, May 7, to compete in the 40th Annual Lincoln National Guard Marathon.
Among the runners, who faced warm temperatures and strong breezes along the 26.2 mile course, were 150 members of the Air and Army National Guard, representing 39 states and two territories, including three members of the Nebraska National Guard marathon team.
Capt. Amanda Homes of Gretna, 1st Lt. Travis Kirchner of Omaha, and 1st Lt. Joe Kumor of Bellevue made up the Nebraska National Guard marathon team and took ninth place out of the participating Guard teams, with an average time of three hours 28 minutes and 40 seconds.
For Homes, originally a Lincoln-native and currently a survey team leader with the 72nd Civil Support Team, participation in this event holds a special place in her heart.
“This is a very special race for me,” Homes said. “It was my first half-marathon; first full marathon; and first Boston Marathon qualifying race. To come back every year and run with fellow Guard members makes it so meaningful for me. The spirit and comradery among the team members on the course, particularly the second half, provides so much motivation when you need it the most.”
Kirchner, who is originally from Ogallala, Nebraska and is assigned to the 110th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, is a former University of Nebraska-Kearney cross country team. For him, running is more than just a hobby as evidenced by this event marking his ninth marathon completion.
“I enjoy running because I can control every aspect,” Kirchner said. “I can control the pace, the distance and it is a way to free my mind.”
While the first two runners relatively experienced, the final member of the 2017 Nebraska team was held by Kumor, who was competing in his first-ever full-marathon.
“I ran because I wanted to see if I could do it,” said Kumor, a chaplain assigned to the 126th Chemical Battalion. “Kirchner talked me into it and I think others should try it because it is great physical and mental training in discipline and perseverance.”
The Nebraska National Guard Marathon team, as the host state, is looking to recruit more runners to build upon their team and, according to Homes, it is a worthwhile endeavor to try.
“This race is such a unique opportunity for members of the Nebraska National Guard Team,” Homes said. “We get to show our fellow Guard members who come to race how awesome our community is and how much they support us. At the same time, we get to show off some of the many talented Guard members we have serving throughout the country in diverse roles in both their military and civilian capacities.”
Homes finished as the third place female for her age group. Homes and Kirchner’s times in the Lincoln National Guard Marathon earned them a spot on the All Guard Marathon Team for 2017.
If interested in running for the Nebraska National Guard marathon team, contact Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Sterns, National Guard Marathon coordinator, at 402-309-8313.