A pair of former Centura runners were victorious in the first-ever Nebraska State Fair Marathon.
Men’s champion James McGown, of Sidney, and women’s champion Kaci Lickteig, of Omaha, not only won their divisions, but went 1-2 in the overall standings Saturday at the State Fairgrounds.
“It’s neat to see two former athletes from Centura do well in this,” McGown said.
McGown won the race in 2 hours, 43 minutes, 44 seconds, while Lickteig was right behind him in 2:50:49.
McGown won the men’s by over seven minutes over Edgar’s Nathan Jarosik (2:51:57).
McGown, who is a principal at Leyton, led pretty much the whole race but he had no idea as to when he thought he was in complete control.
“I didn’t want to go hard too early just because of the weather conditions,” the Cairo native said. “I really just focused on what I can do and let the chips fall where they may. And at the end, it’s always better after you do well. It helps ease the pain.”
McGown started running when he got into high school, when former cross county coach Bill Brown asked him to go out.
“Coach Brown got me started and has a very good role model in my life and I want to thank him for that,” McGown said. “I can’t thank him enough for everything he’s done for me.”
Lickteig is a familiar name in running in Grand Island. She was a three-time winner in the Bill Seymour Half-Marathon before finishing second in that race last year.
Lickteig, who is a physical therapist in Omaha, took the women’s title by over nearly an hour over Grand Island’s Kylie Cheetsos (3:42:43).
The Dannebrog native said she liked how she ran during the race.
“I feel good,” she said. “I really had no time expectation on this. I was just going to go out there and see what the legs can do.”
Lickteig was running with Jarosik, who was running his first marathon, throughout the majority of the race.
“I was talking to him during the race and that was a blast,” Lickteig said. “That helped make it go fast.”
With how the course was shaped, McGown said he felt comfortable running on it and it helped that there was a cool breeze during the race.
“The course was nice and flat,” McGown said. “You really can’t do anything about the weather but the course was great and there was a lot of support so that helps. The race organizers did a fantastic job on the course.”
Lickteig said she always likes coming to Grand Island and feels the marathon was a nice addition.
“I ran my first half-marathon here in Grand Island and I’m glad they made a marathon out of this,” she said. “I like the longer races. I think this is only going to get better and they should draw some pretty fast runners to this. I give it an A+ rating.”
As for the first year of having the marathon, race director Jeffrey Doose said it couldn’t have gone any better with the race having over 500 runners, especially with the weather.
“It went speculator I thought,” Doose said. “It’s been a seamless race with all the help we had, the volunteers, the runners and the weather. It rained last night and it came through at a good time when it did. It rained at 11 p.m. and it cleared out when we started to work on the course at 2 a.m.
“We got a lot of positive feedback from the runners and of course, we’re always working to improve the course.”