The Free Press, Mankato, MN

October 17, 2013

Mankato runner has sights set on Olympic Trials

Runner hoping to one day qualify for Olympic Marathon Trials

By Shane Frederick
The Mankato Free Press

---- — Lindsay Henkels could qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials on Sunday, but she suspects that won’t happen.

Another day, though. Another race. She’s determined to make it.

“You can qualify by running a half-marathon, but they make it pretty damn difficult,” said Henkels, who will compete in the Mankato Marathon’s half on Sunday. “You have to run a 1:15 (1 hour, 15 minutes). For me, that’s fast. You have to get wings or something. This will be more of a tuneup to see where I’m at.”

The 33-year-old Mankato native has her sights set on the California International Marathon, which will take place Dec. 8 at Sacramento. She ran that full race last year, setting a personal record of 2:50. She’ll need to shed more than 7 minutes off that time to meet the qualifying standard for the 2016 Trials.

To get ready for that, she’ll run in her hometown race this weekend. A year ago, she took second in the Mankato half with a time of 1:19.33, a little more than 2 minutes behind winner Dani Stack, another Mankato native.

If that’s not running with wings, it must be just a few feathers short.

“My goal is to be aggressive,” said Henkels, who took third place in 2011. “Make it hurt.”

Nine and a half months ago at Sacramento, Henkels survived 30- to 40-mph headwinds at the start and a downpour that flooded the intersections and still ran the fastest marathon of her life. She was the 16th female finisher and placed 100th overall among more than 6,500 finishers.

“It was fun,” she said.

Henkels (nee Feder), a 1998 Mankato West graduate who ran track and cross country in high school and cross country at the University of Minnesota, never thought she’d be a high-level marathoner one day. When she was an eighth-grader and then-Scarlets coach Greg Schmidt asked her to try distance running, she couldn’t imagine jogging just a few kilometers.

“I asked him how far I had to run, and he said 2 miles,” Henkels said. “I thought, ‘Are you kidding? That’s so far!’”

She acquiesced, of course, and ended up setting West records that stood for several years. Along the way, she took 12th at the state cross-country meet and third in the 2-mile at state track.

Henkels said she “didn’t live up to my potential” while running with the Gophers, but after having two kids, she got the urge to run again.

She ran her first marathon in 2002, finishing the Twin Cities Marathon in 3:39. She won the Fargo Marathon’s half in 2003.

In 2004, her husband, Toby Henkels, a former middle-distance runner for Minnesota and, later, a professional runner, participated in the Olympic Track & Field Trials, running the 800 meters. As Lindsay got faster along the long courses, she thought perhaps the Trials might be within reach for her as well.

“With him being successful and seeing how hard he worked, I thought, ‘I want to do that,’” she said.

She hired an Arizona-based coach with whom she communicates weekly via email and phone. A registered nurse who works fulltime from home, Henkels’ training regimens include two runs a day and at least 100 miles per week, along with weight training and other exercises.

“It’s fun to push yourself,” she said, “and see what your body’s capable of.”

In all, Henkels has run five full marathons and five half-marathons.

This year, she has run the Green Bay Marathon’s half in May (1:25:02), the full Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth in June (2:58:14) and the Women’s Rock half in St. Paul in August, which she won (1:24:10).

“It’s still a lofty goal,” she said of the Trials. “I’m not trying to make the Olympics. To make the Trials would be huge. To be an Olympian, that’s a whole other league of their own.”

Mankato Marathon Saturday's race scheduleToddler Trot & Diaper Dash, 1 p.m.Kids K, 2:30 p.m.5K, 4 p.m. Sunday's race scheduleMarathon, Half Marathon, Marathon Relay, 8 a.m. For more information go to