By Brian Ojanpa
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — Colin Kramer, a hurts-so-good look on his face, sat on the sunny steps outside Verizon Wireless Center Sunday morning.
To his pained satisfaction he’d just completed the half-marathon race of the third annual Mankato Marathon. His calves were screaming and his left Achilles tendon was barking.
The Brooklyn Center man had never tackled more than a 5K race before, but he decided to take the big jump to a half-marathon and learned a lesson about it and himself in the process.
“It was a little tougher that I thought it would be. I might have overdone it (training) too much this past week,” he said.
Meantime, the coolish but not cold brilliant autumn day was also outdoing itself for the nearly 5,000 runners who participated in the event’s races.
“It’s a little windy but perfect temperatures today. You don’t want it any warmer,” Chris Schull said as she cheered on runners outside Walgreens on Riverfront Drive.
Schull, who runs a Mankato YMCA-based runners club, had about 20 of her charges competing Sunday.
It was Schull’s persistence that spawned the Mankato Marathon in the first place. City officials passed on her first request to start a city-backed race, but the second time was the charm, and the event has been attracting more runners — and more visitor spending — with each passing year.
But she and fellow club members weren’t copping any we-told-you-so attitudes Sunday. They were standing alongside the road, with boombox pump-up music blaring, to root for runners bearing varying degrees of discomfort.
And gumption. One female runner whisked by in stockinged feet, carrying her shoes. Blisters, was the consensus.
Inside Verizon, event medical teams were tending to such concerns. The first runner requiring aid came in at 8:27 a.m., preceding a steady stream of minor casualties.
“But it’s pretty comparable to last year,” said aid-station coordinator Dana Lundgren, an emergency room manager at the Mankato hospital.
Lundgren said muscle cramping and vomiting are the typical afflictions, and runners are treated with ice, IVs and fluids before being sent on their way.
She said distress strikes all types of runners, from novice to veteran, with runners who have under-trained often getting hit the hardest.