"I've been blessed with good health so I thank God for that," said Father Bernie Byrne as he prepared to run the Lincoln Half Marathon.
As he prepared for last night's late service, he managed to get Sunday off. Quite a feat for a Priest. He gets it to run in the Lincoln Marathon.
Father Bernie says running brings him strength and joy.
The last race he ran was a 10 K in Omaha last year and was okay with the finish. "I came in second 24:24 in my age group, that's good news, right? The bad news is there were only two in my age group."
A sense of humor drives him. Listen to how he got out of a scheduled 6 a.m. training session with a trainer. "I told the trainer that I had Mass that day and that was true. I didn't tell him the Mass wasn't until 6 o'clock that evening. It was a truth but it was incomplete, I guess."
It was one of many training sessions over the three months of training for the half marathon.
He completes his mission of inspiring the more than 800 students at his school, St. Wenceslaus in Omaha. They sent him off with prayers and posters.
"Go Father Bernie. Look at that, a lot of effort went into that," said Bernie.
Which were appreciated.
"The kids are wonderful," said Father Bernie.
He's happy to be a role model, but that's not why he runs.
One would think that Second Timothy would come to mind. It depicts running the right course, fighting the good fight, and running for a crown. It inspires runners world wide, but not Father Bernie.
"It's just something I like to do and you keep on running until you run out of steam and I hope it's not in the foreseeable future, so it's just great," said Bernie.
He ran his first and only marathon when he was 45-years-old in Chicago. Thirty-three years later - "I have a good pair of legs and I want to use them as long as I can," said Bernie.
Father Bernie's bib number is 46-16. Only fitting, Psalm 46 depicts God as a source of strength, 16 explains the fulfillment of joy: two blessings he gets from running.