By: Brittany Paris
Marathon organizers want to expand a portion of a trail by just a couple of feet.
Those two feet will allow for 5,000 additional runners. But first, the funds have to be approved by the county board.
The Helen Boosail Trail could be expanded by two feet in width. The nearly two-mile trail runs along Highway 2 from 27th to 48th streets.
Right now, only 10,000 people are able to register for the marathon. And officials said they've had to cap the number mainly because of this section of the trail.
They money for the project is already there. Marathon organizers were given a $300,000 grant. The Lincoln Track Club and the Great Plains Trails Networks are putting $150,000 for the project, and the city is chipping in another $50,000.
But the project still needs to be approved by the county board.
The grant would pay to demolish the old eight-foot-wide trail and build a new 10-foot-wide trail, allowing up to 15,000 people to participate in the annual run.
Terry Genrich, Lincoln Parks and Recreation Trails Manager, said the expansion is needed because of the growing number of participants in the last few years, jumping from 6,500 in 2009 to 10,000 in 2011.
This year's marathon sold out in 16 hours.
"The window of being able to register for the marathon has been shorter and shorter," Genrich said. "There's a demand for the Lincoln Marathon and this is a way for them to grow the program."
Marathon officials said the race will beef up the city's economy because of the additional runners paying to enter the race. Also, an estimated 66 percent of participants come from outside of Lincoln.
"People in Lincoln are in hotels or our restaurants," Genrich said. "It's just a way to really promote Lincoln and let people across the country know what we're about."
The contract will be voted on in the next few weeks. If approved, marathon officials will start design work right after the May 5 marathon. The trail is expected to bee finished by September of this year.