By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor
Two years removed from winning the inaugural Mankato Marathon, Jen Blue opted to dial it down a little bit on Sunday.
Instead of doing the full marathon, Blue competed in the 10K. The head women’s cross country and track coach at Minnesota State easily won the women’s race, coming in with a time of 34:47. The time was good enough for third place overall.
“This was actually my first 10K,” said Blue, 37, who usually competes in full and half-marathons. “I feel pretty good after this one. Usually I don’t feel very well when I finish a race.”
Blue decided to drop her distance down this spring when she competed in the Boston Marathon but was unable to finish due to heat exhaustion. She suffered a similar fate in a few races that followed and just decided to cut way back over the summer. She’s just now in the process of building back up.
“I’m going to be running the Disney Marathon in Orlando in January,” she said. “This was a nice training run for that.”
Blue admitted that being able to do well in distance races such as a 10K is a plus when it comes to coaching college-age distance runners. It shows she doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk.
“I think it helps,” she said. “It lets them know I practice what I preach.”
Jessica Burgstahler, 28, of Minneapolis was the second woman across the line in 41:37.
Sartell’s Krista Heim, 20, was third among women with a 43:14. Rounding out the top six were Erin Link, 34 of Chaska (43:42), Lisa Brown, 26, of Lake Crystal (44:24); and Aryn Eckstrom, 18, of St. James (44:57).
Brown is a former national champion thrower from the Gustavus Adolphus track and field team who came in second in Saturday’s 5K race.
Eckstrom is one of the top Class A tennis players in Minnesota who will compete at the state meet this week.