No one can say Minnesota State women’s track and cross-country coach Jen Blue doesn’t practice what she preaches.
Feeling ill at around the 24-mile mark of the Mankato Marathon, Blue wasn’t about to let herself or her team down by quitting on account of a queasy stomach.
Blue kept on running and fought off her ails just long enough to cross the finish line as the women’s winner of the inaugural race Saturday. Blue didn’t merely survive the 26.2-mile race, she thrived. Her 3 hour, 3-minute, 6-second time was a personal best.
“The last two miles I really felt like I was going to throw up,” said Blue, who finished 21st overall. “I didn’t feel good at all. (I) just got through it with grit and determination.”
When told that members of her team were waiting for their beloved coach at the finish line, Blue said, “I told my girls that they can’t ever stop, so I had to follow my own advice.”
Minnesota State track and field sprinter Brittany Henderson leaned on a rail by the finish line on Hickory Street, and said she was awed by her coach’s achievement.
“I’m not surprised at all that she won,” Henderson said. “She’s a beast. She wants us to be better runners, but she has high expectations for herself, too. She’s so inspiring.”
Henderson’s teammate, Lauren Stelten, said that hearing her coach battled through an upset stomach to finish — and win — the race was hardly out of character for Blue.
“She works so hard,” Stelten said. “She’s always telling us to push through, and she showed she does the same.”
Blue, who trained for about 12 weeks but is also a year-round runner, was a member of the marathon’s planning committee and helped design the running course.
“It’s a really nice course,” she said while recouping after the race. “I was glad the sun didn’t come out until (after her finish), and to set my PR (personal record) here is pretty awesome.”
Kim Scheel of Mankato finished second with a time of 3:08:05, followed by Walnut Grove’s Monica Dorn (3:17:09), Mankato’s Cindra Kamphoff (3:17:18) and St. Cloud’s Molly Borski (3:19:38).
“I really enjoyed the race,” Scheel said. “It was a great event. The weather really came through. I hope to be back next year.”
Other area finishers in the top 20 included: Clarice Esslinger (10th, 3:25:31), North Mankato’s Becky Brudwick (12th, 3:29:05), Mankato’s Jill Kroc (16th, 3:31:28) and St. Peter’s Emily Thompson (20th,, 3:38:01).
— Drew Lyon
Former Gustie runner wins men's race
In 2007, James Sorenson, a former Gustavus Adolphus College track and cross-country runner, attempted a marathon for the first time.
“The first one didn’t go that well,” he said.
In fact, the Minneapolis resident said, it went so poorly that he didn’t even attempt another 26.2-mile race for the next three years.
Needing to get some “marathon street cred,” his next try was Saturday’s inaugural Mankato Marathon. Suffice to say, it went a little better for Sorenson, as he became the race’s first champion.
“For me, it’s all about the time,” Sorenson said. “I just wanted to go out and see how low I could get. I was hoping for somewhere in the 2:30s.
Sorenson rounded the corner from Entertainment Alley to Hickory Street and breezed across the finish line in front of the Verizon Wireless Center and received a loud ovation from a gathering crowd that had been warmed up by the half-marathon finishers. He completed the full marathon in 2 hours, 37 minutes, 4 seconds for a 6-minute-mile pace.
Sorenson came in 1:44 ahead of North Mankato resident Tim Hardy, who was running his fourth marathon.
Hardy, 35, ran the famous Boston Marathon in April, finishing in 2:48. On Saturday, he bested that time by about 10 minutes.
“This one is maybe a little faster (course),” Hardy said, “but Boston is Boston.”
Owatonna resident Justin Henkel came in third with a time of 2:44:33. He was followed by Eagle Lake’s Jonathan Clark (2:51:11), Farmington’s Dan Greenwood (2:51:32) and North Mankato’s Todd Landgraff (2:53:36).
“I figured it would take 2:40 to win it,” Hardy said. “My goal was to be under 2:40. That takes a really good day to do that. At the halfway point I was at 1:18, and I just kept grinding.”
Five hundred seventy-seven men and women finished the race, with the last runner coming in just under 6 1/2 hours.
Other area residents in the top 20 included Mankato’s Sean Curran (11th, 3:00:39) and Dan Friedrichs (13th, 3:02:25), Sleepy Eye’s John Maas (14th, 3:02:30), Belle Plaine’s Bradley Pederson (16th, 3:04:02) and North Mankato’s Chaun Cox (18th, 3:05:43).
“It was cool,” said Hardy, who has also run Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth and the Des Moines Marathon. “I was able to train on a lot of it. It’s kind of scenic, and there a lot of places for people to watch.”
One of those places was Sibley Park, a portion of the course that caught Sorenson off-guard.
“We had to run through a little petting zoo, which was a little strange,” he said. “The goats were going crazy. By that time, you’re feeling a little delirious, anyway.”
— Shane Frederick