MANKATO — There were winners in the 7-Mile and 5K races Saturday at the fourth annual 7&7 Race at Seven-Mile Creek, but the unofficial champions were the weather and trail conditions.
"This weather is amazing," Greater Mankato Multisport Club President Chris Crocker said under sunny skies and light winds. "The trail conditions were the best they've been in the four years we've been doing this."
Crocker credited Seven-Mile Creek trail operator John Gatzke for maintaining dry conditions despite a wet spring.
"He put hours and hours into this," Crocker said, "and he did a great job."
Race volunteer Jennifer Myers watched as her husband, Tom Myers, won the 7-Mile event with a time of 45:16. But Tom Myers didn't stick around for the awards ceremony.
"He's probably already showering," Jennifer Myers said. "He's not about the awards. He just runs and goes home."
Jennifer Myers was stationed at the 3.5-mile marker and was also impressed by the trail conditions.
"We were a little leery because the last three, the trails were really muddy," she said. "We figured this year we had rain the whole week and the fields would be abysmal, but they were actually pretty dry. The people were so happy; you could see them smiling."
Todd Landgraff of North Mankato finished second at 46:52, and Mike Cahill of Janesville was third at 46:52.
St. Paul's Christi Nowak was the top female with a time 52:35, Rita Woitas (57:02) of Minnesota Lake placed second, and Joy Esboldt (58:36) of St. Louis Park was third.
"It was a fun race overall," said 11-year old Ethan Ulman, who improved his time by six minutes. "Last year was rainy and cold. The hills are a little harder than any race I've ever done."
Carter Deichman, 13, of Mankato battled a sprained ankle in the first mile to win the 5K with a time of 50:24.