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Cool day, hot times at Turkey Day 10K

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Les Knutson

Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON — On a cool and windy morning Saturday, a trio of Coon Rapids athletes, representing the Duma Running Club, showcased their long-distance running abilities around Lake Okabena and through downtown along 10th Street, as they impressively led the way around the 34th annual King Turkey Day 10K road race.

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Winning the 6.2 mile run was 22-year-old Elly Sang, who pulled away from his running partner Choge Julius Kirwa, 35, in the race’s final mile.

Sang clocked a time of 30 minutes, 52 seconds as he averaged 4:58 per mile.

“It was pretty windy,” said Sang, who was running the Worthington race for the first time. “It’s a nice course and there’s a lot of people cheering for you.”

Kirwa, who kept up with his younger buddy for more than five miles, finished with a time of 31:04 — nearly three minutes ahead of third-place finisher Joshua Lund, 24, of Madison, Wisc. (32:56).

“It was cold and very windy,” summed up Kirwa who has run a marathon as fast as two hours, 12 minutes and 12 seconds (in 2008). “He (Sang) got away from me over the last mile.”

While Sang and Kirwa ran up front from the beginning, and Lund positioned himself in third place, the race for fourth was more competitive.

As the race progressed, however, two runners — one female and one male — separated themselves from the others and finished comfortably in fourth and fifth, respectively.

Doreen Kitaka, also from Coon Rapids and the Duma Running Club, repeated as the Turkey Day 10K women’s champion, as she crossed the line in 35:21, averaging 5:42 per mile.

Kitaka, 29, won last year (13th overall) with her time of 35:01, which was just four seconds off the women’s course record of 34:57, set by Amy Lyons of Mounds View in 2006.

“That’s by far the highest overall finish for our women’s winner,” declared race director Jerry Fiola. “Doreen ran a great time on a windy day and finished ahead of lots of very good male runners.”

Finishing fifth overall was Corey Selland. 28, of Brookings, S.D. with a time of 35:28.

Crossing the finish line next was 57-year-old Norm Larson from Burlington, Vermont, who smashed a 14-year old age group record (55-59) when he entered the chute in a spectacular time of 36:14, bettering the mark of 37:37 held since 1999 by Dave Griffith of Marshall.

Barry Sackett, 44, of Okoboji, Iowa was seventh (36:46), followed by Laura Paulsen, 24, of Minneapolis (37:22), who was the second woman to finish.

Completing the top 10 Saturday were a pair of Worthington runners, 41-year-old Barry Fischer (37:32) and 16-year-old Matt Jirele (37:35).

Tim Fryer, 34, from Hendricks was next (37:42), followed by two more Worthington runners, as 34-year-old Jonah Beckerman (37:52) and 28-year-old Seth DeGroot (38:03) were 12th and 13th, respectively.

Keith Abels, 51, of Ogden, Iowa — formerly from Worthington and Sibley, Iowa — won his age group and finished 14th overall, running the course in 38:58, averaging 6:17 per mile.

Ryan DeYounge, 32, (39:01), Anthony Luft, 16, (39:07), Gerardo Barreto, 34, (40:02) and Brian Juber, 24, (40:11) finished 15th, 16th, 18th and 20th, respectively, as Worthington put a total of eight male runners among the top 20.

Jackson’s Mark Kocak, 52, finished 17th with a time of 39:14, clipping each mile at a 6:19 pace.

Jenna Bents, 24, was Worthington’s first woman finisher, averaging 6:59 per mile and clocking a time of 43:18, which was good enough to finish fifth among all women and 36th overall.

A stellar performance was also turned in by 13-year-old Jacob Prunty, who finished 31st overall and won his age-group (male 14 and under) by more than five minutes with a time of 42:06.

Other women’s age-group winners, besides Kitawa and Paulsen, were Jessica Darling from Worthington (49:39), Meredith Moore, Worthington, 46:20; Stephanie Hoven, Luverne, 43:58; Jennifer Vande Vegte, Sioux City, Iowa, 41:38; Melinda DeWeerd, Doon, Iowa, 49:43; Sharon Stubler, Minnetonka, 44:41; Elaine Tholen, Balaton, 45:29; Andriette Windstrom, Storm Lake, Iowa, 43:52; Julie Virkus, St. Louis Park, 44:27 and Becky Bray, Sioux Falls, S.D., 1:05:57.

Windstrom (58), Virkus (61), Stubler (48) and Tholen (54) were the top-four overall finishers in the women’s 40 and over category.

Virkus established an impressive new record in the 60-64 women’s division, running six minutes and 33 seconds faster than the 1998 age-group record of 51:00 set by Doris Urbain.

Other men’s age-group winners, besides Prunty, Jirele, Sang, Selland, Fryer, Kirwa, Sackett, Abels and Larson, were Marlin Schoonhoven of Ireton, Iowa (40:28), Wayne Drealan, Fulda, 43:22; Robert Strandberg, Brooklyn Park, 50:22; Norm Purrington, Lake Elmo, 50:14 and Wally Jorgensen, Spirit Lake, Iowa, 1:00:59.

Larson, Sackett, Fischer, Abels and Kocak were the top-five 40 and over males, each running the course under 40 minutes.

There were a total of 499 finishers Saturday —- 254 women and 245 men.

The youngest runners were a pair of eight-year-old boys — Miles Fischer (Worthington) and Pierce Hetland (Spirit Lake, Iowa) — who clocked respective times of 59:36 and 59:48.

Jerry Sombke (1:08.02) of Freeborn and Fritz Korthals (1:18.30) of Worthington, both 77, were the oldest competitors to finish.

Complete results of Saturday’s 10K can be found on the race’s website:

www.turkeyday10k.com.

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