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About our event


Contact Race Director Brock Wurl at orourketriathlon@gmail.com.

About the triathlon

Created in 2002, the James O'Rourke Memorial Triathlons were created to honor the life and legacy of community leader and fitness enthusiast James O'Rourke. Now in its 17th year, the James O'Rourke Memorial Triathlons have grown from a single race to a three-day series of triathlon events that have included thousands of athletes and brought hundreds of visitors from around the country to our community. The James O'Rourke Memorial Triathlon is also the signature event of the Platte River Fitness Series, a community wellness initiative that has encouraged many residents of the North Platte region to live a more healthy, active life.

James O'Rourke

James O'Rourke

About James O'Rourke

Jim was born and raised in North Platte, Neb. He was involved in a variety of organizations in school and as a teenager enjoyed helping his dad on the family farm. After graduation Jim attended and graduated from Mid-Plains Community College. During this time Jim worked for the Union Pacific Railroad and also worked summers there throughout college and law school. After graduation from Mid-Plains Community College in North Platte, Jim earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law.

Subsequently, he worked as a deputy county attorney for Dawson County from 1980 to 1982. After that he practiced law with a private law firm in Lexington. In 1986 he became the Dawson County Attorney, a post he held until 1989 when he returned to North Platte. His return to North Platte was prompted by an appointment by then-Governor of Nebraska Kay Orr to the post of county judge in Lincoln County. His appointment, he had said was “a wonderful opportunity for me to come home.” He was at that time one of the youngest people in Nebraska to be appointed to be a judge. Jim loved his work, the people that he came in contact with, and felt “honored and humbled” to serve on the bench. He continued this position until his death in 1991.

Jim was a member of the Nebraska State Bar Association and Nebraska County Judges’ Association. He was a member of several civic groups and was an active church and choir member at Bethel Evangelical Free Church in North Platte. 

Jim married Jami Petersen in Stromsburg, Neb., in 1979. To their marriage three children were born — Emily, Adam, and Katelyn. Jim was very involved with his children. While the children were small he would take them with him on his numerous trips to the Lexington Racquetball Club. He thoroughly enjoyed their company and was a very proud father. Jim enjoyed “working out.” Through the years he played basketball, tennis, softball, racquetball, lifted weights, and biked. He played men’s softball in North Platte, intramurals throughout college, and church league as an adult. Jim would ride his bike to class as a student and even as a judge frequently rode it to work. He also enjoyed fishing with his children and hunting with his friends.

In the spring of 1991, Jim trained for the Spring Muscle Stretcher Triathlon held in North Platte. Jim died during the running portion of his first triathlon of sudden cardiac arrest as the result of genetically-linked heart disease. 

The importance of faith in Jim’s life is expressed in these Bible verses read at his funeral. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (II Timothy 4:7-8) The outpouring of cards, messages, and memorials by the community at the time of his death was a wonderful tribute to Jim’s life.