Peru, Nebraska – Nebraska’s Toughest Mile (NTM) competition will take place on Saturday, October 28, 2023.  The race, organized by Peru State’s cross-country coach, James Cole, and the Bobcat cross-country team, will start at 9:00 a.m. in one of Nebraska’s hilliest small towns, Peru.

This is the Peru State cross-country team’s main fundraising event.  Extra donations are welcomed with your registration and/or at check-in.  You can donate directly to the men’s and women’s programs using the following links:  

Men’s Cross Country: 

Women’s Cross Country: 

Donations can be counted towards your registration as well.  The Foundation alerts Coach Cole of all website donations received, and he will be cross-referencing donations with registrations received through the next several weeks.  

Proceeds go to the team for miscellaneous needs, additional funding, team events, additional scholarships, etc.  Additional paid funds are much appreciated and will go directly to the team’s fundraising account.  Thank you for your support!  

Nebraska’s Toughest Mile race concept is simple: one mile with nearly constantly changing elevation, mostly uphill!  The middle of the race will take competitors up the infamous “Gut-Buster” hill, located just north of the Campus of Thousand Oaks on Seventh Street. “Gut-Buster” is a quarter mile uphill that gradually gets steeper as you go up.  

This race is for ages 7 and up and all fitness levels from the serious runner to the casual walker.  We want to challenge all individuals, whether athletic or not, to do something that would stretch them out of their normal comfort zone.

The race will begin at 9:00 a.m.  Race day Check-in and Registration will commence at 8:00 a.m. on race day at City Hall located in Downtown Peru, NE. Check-in and Registration will close at 8:45 a.m. The starting line is near the Peru Fire Station and the finish line is near the front of the T.J. Majors building on the main campus.  See the attached screenshot of the Map My Run route which can be viewed at this link: Toughest Mile Course Link.

Registration is now open and can be completed at the following link: Toughest Mile Sign Up Form

Registrations received before October 12, 2023, will be guaranteed a shirt in the requested size.  Shirts will be ordered on October 13, 2023, and a surplus will be ordered at that time.  Individuals registering after October 12 will receive a shirt in the size requested on a first-registered, first-served basis until the surplus is out.  Payments can be made online after registering or on race day.  To ensure Coach Cole receives proof of your payment, you can forward your payment receipt to or text 402-699-1904.  Race day payments must be donations, card, or check.  We will not be handling cash this year as the athletics department has gone cashless for our events.    

COST TO REGISTER:  Individuals registering prior to 11:59 p.m. on October 25, 2023, are considered pre-registrants.  Online registrations will not be added to the roster after that time.  All registration after 11:59 p.m. on October 25, 2022, should be completed in person on race day.  Please arrive early to complete race-day registration.  Registration will close at 8:45 a.m. on race day as we will begin cleanup and preparations to start the race at that time.  

1) Pre-registered individuals:  $30 
2) Race Day Registrations:  $35
3) Peru State College Students and Faculty who pre-register:  $20
4) Peru State College Students and Faculty who late register:  $25

Ivan Marsh set the course record in 2011 with a finish time of 5:39.

An awards ceremony along with the costume contest judging will be conducted at the conclusion of the race and should be concluded by 10:30 a.m.  Details of awards (individual and team) and the costume contest follow:  


1) Awards to the top male and female finishers 

2) Awards to the top male and female finishers in the following categories, based on race day age:

• Kids:  7-10; All participants must be at least 7 years old on race day
• Youth:  11-14
• High School Aged:  15-18
• College Aged:  19-24
• Open:  25-39
• Master’s:  40-49
• Grand Master’s:  50-59
• Senior Grand Master’s:  60+

3) Awards to individuals signed up for the following Weight Classes (honor system on this; there will not be an official weigh-in):

• Hercules:  Male over 225 pounds
• Athena:  Female over 165 pounds

NOTE:  Individual awards will be given in the following order and individuals receiving a “higher ranking” award will not be considered for other awards unless they are the only individual eligible.  

• Top finishers 
• Top Age Division Awards
• Top Weight Class finishers


Teams will consist of 3 to 5 members and will be ranked against each other in a manner like a cross country race.  All finishers competing in team categories will be assigned a placement score.  The first team competition finisher will be assigned 1 point; the second team competition finisher, 2 points; and so on.  Each team’s top three finishers’ scores will be added and ranked against the other teams.  The lowest score wins.  In the event of a tie, the team with the lowest total finish time will win.  

1) Team Categories:
a) All Male Team (every member must be male)
b) All Female Team (every member must be female)
c) COED Team (must include at least one member of each gender and the team’s score will consist of the top male and top female finisher and the next fastest runner).

 2) Team Awards:  
• Top Team Overall (will not be eligible for another team award unless they are the only team in that category)
• Top Male Team
• Top Female Team
• Top COED Team


We will have a Peru official judge the costume contest along with our cross-country teams’ captains.  The judging will be subjective and based on the decisions of the judges.  Remember this is a family-friendly event hosted by a state college so please keep your costumes appropriate.  

NOTE:  Costume entries must compete in the toughest mile in costume to be eligible.  The judging will occur at the finish line / at the reception/awards ceremony.  

Categories to register in:

1) Best Group / Couple Costume:
a) 2 or more participants dressed in a recognizable yet creative group/couple costume.  

2) Cutest Costume:
a) Costumes that make you go, “Aww, so cute.”

3) Scariest Costume:
a) Costumes that would help the judges run faster up “Gut-Buster”.

4) Most Creative
a) The Costume that took the most thought and energy to come up with.  Something unusual / outside of the box.

There will also be a Best in Show category (winners of other costume categories will be eligible for this award): Judges' absolute favorite of all the costumes.