KING TURKEY DAY 10K: Moore, Kitaka claim 10K titles Saturday
WORTHINGTON -- For more than 40 minutes Saturday morning, a steady stream of distance runners made a right turn off of Seventh Avenue on to Tenth Street and made the gradual uphill climb the final four blocks to the finish line on the corner of 10th and Third Avenue, completing Worthington's 33rd annual Turkey Day 10K road race, in the 35-to-75 minute time range.
A total of 583 participants -- 300 men and 283 women -- finished the 6.2 mile distance, with a total of 379 runners covering the course in less than an hour.
Forty-nine runners bettered the 40-minute mark, while the first-place women's finisher came within four seconds of the all-time female course record.
At the head of the pack -- right from the beginning -- were five elite runners, who had opened up a huge lead on the rest of the field by the time they had completed the first 2,000 meters.
The top three included Edward Tabut and Robert Watribua of the Duma Running Club out of Coon Rapids, along with Joe Moore of Minneapolis.
Close behind were the duo of Michael Reneua (St. Paul) and Jason Lehmkuhle (Minneapolis).
Approximately 23 minutes later, Tabut had completed the trek all the way around Lake Okabena and was the first runner to enter 10th street.
But Moore, a former cross country runner and steeplechaser at Kansas State University, was closing in and utilized a very strong finish to win this year's race in a sizzling time of 30 minutes and seven seconds -- the fastest Turkey Day 10K time of the 21st century.
"I felt fine the whole way and -- today -- I had a good kick," summed up Moore, 28, who averaged 4:51 per mile for the entire distance. "I tried to stay close to the two guys (Tabut and Watribua) who were leading, but they were 'hammering hard' and really pushing the pace."
At about the four-mile mark, Moore passed Watribua and stayed in contact with Tabut.
"I tried to stay within five yards of him, which wasn't easy," said Moore. "But, I still had some legs left for the finish -- which was a bit uphill, but there were so many people cheering for both of us and I was able to find my sprint."
Tabut finished second, clocked at 30:12, while Watribua crossed third in 30:34.
Both Reneua (30:46) and Lehmkuhle (30:56) also ran the course under 31 minutes, something only a handful of runners have done since 2001.
Both Moore and Tabut bettered the previous best Turkey Day 10K time of the 2000's of 30:19, which was run by Faribault's Chris Lundstrom in 2002.
Moses Waweru (St. Paul) clocked a winning time of 30:22 in 2005 and Lundstrom ran the course in 30:28 in 2001. Waweru repeated in 2006 with a time of 30:30 and Richard Kandie of Coon Rapids won last year, timed at 30:37.
Kandie and Waweru tied for first in 2010 (30:52), Waweru won in 2009 (31:00), Brad Lowery (Brookings, S.D.) was the winner in 2008 (31:15) and Bret Fransen (Sioux Center, Iowa, Edgerton High School, Class of 2000) finished first in 2007 (31:54).
"This was one of the fastest runs up front that we have ever had," noted race organizer Jerry Fiola. "Five guys ran under 31 minutes, which doesn't happen very often."
Moore's 30:07 was, however, 30 seconds shy of the all-time Turkey Day 10K record of 29:37 set by Jerrold Wynia in 1983.
"This is a great town and a cool course," concluded Moore, who was an All-Big 12 cross country runner at KSU, last running for the Wildcats in the fall of 2006. "I've never been to Worthington before, but I'd like to come back again."
Kitaka, Mutwa lead women's race
While men claimed the first 12 places Saturday, women's winner Doreen Kitaka (28, Coon Rapids) finished 13th overall and nearly broke the course record (34:57 set by Amy Lyons of Mounds View in 2006) when she crossed the line in 35:01 -- clipping along at 5:39 per mile.
"This was my first time here and I had a good run," said Kikaka moments after finishing the race. "It was a bit windy, but it's a nice course and I had a strong finish."
Pacing Kitaka most of the way was her Duma Running Club teammate Pauline Mutwa, 22, also of Coon Rapids. Mutwa finished second among all females (16th overall) with a time of 35:27.
Laura Paulsen (23, Minneapolis) was the third female (19th overall) to cross (35:44), while Lindsay Henkels (32, Mankato) and Jen Van Otterloo (26, Sioux Center, Iowa) were the fourth and fifth (29th and 34th overall) to finish with respective times of 37:52 and 38:35.
Runners range in age from 10 to 78, Drealan, Vlieger, White complete 33rd Turkey Day 10K
A large group of 42 collegiate cross country runners from Morningside College (Sioux City, Iowa) completed the course Saturday and five of its runners took individual places six through 10.
Finishing 11th was Windom's Obed Njangan Qusemba, who had the best finish of all area runners, clocking a time of 34:52.
Amanuel Fisshia, 14, was the first Worthington runner to complete the course as he finished 25th overall (37:15) and won his age group by 10 minutes and 40 seconds.
The youngest runners Saturday were 10-year-olds Sullivan Merrigan (Worthington) and Regon Feit (Luverne), while 78-year-old Lois Degonda (Chisago City) was the oldest.
A trio of veterans -- Wayne Drealan (59, Fulda), Steve Vlieger (61, Mitchell, S.D.) and Midg White (68, Worthington) -- remarkably completed their 33rd consecutive Turkey Day 10K Saturday, having run the course every year since its inauguration in 1980.
Drealan won the 55-59 men's age group with a time of 43:48 (7:03 pace) while finishing 84th overall.
Vlieger, originally from Chandler, was third in a competitive 60-64 men's age group with a time of 51:18.
There were 12 runners in that age group, including Doug Pohlman, 61, of rural Lakefield, who was running his 29th consecutive Turkey Day 10K,
Pohlman, a former sprinter for Sioux Valley High School (Class of 1969) was fourth in his age group with a time of 52 minutes flat.
"I've run here every year since 1984," Pohlman said. "This is the first time that I didn't break 50 minutes. But today was special for me as I had two daughters (Amy and Kim) also run the course, making it kind of a family affair."
Kim Johnson (Spirit Lake, Iowa) ran the course in 53:23 and finished 10th -- out of 61 runners -- in the women's 30-34 age group, which was one the largest divisions.
Amy Paustian (Sioux Valley-Round Lake-Brewster Class of 1993) came all the way from Walcott, Iowa with her three young children and ran the course under an hour (59:06) as the Pohlman clan was just one of many families that competed in and completed Saturday's event.
Another group that has made the Turkey Day 10K an annual event is the John and Lynn Wilson family from rural Round Lake.
Saturday, all five family members ran, led by daughter Rachel, 23, who covered the distance in 45:40 and made the "first page" of all the women runners, placing 23rd overall and eighth in her age group.
Josh, 34, ran a fine time of 48:28 and finished 43 places ahead of younger brother Mathias, 32, (51:09) as both were among the first 200 overall finishers.
One of Saturday's best finishes was in the 75-and-over men's age group, as 76-year-old Fritz Korthals (Worthington) came across eight seconds ahead of 76-year-old John Mork (St. Cloud) as they remarkably covered the distances with respective times of 1:11.00 and 1:11.08, taking second and third places in that division, which was won by 75-year-old Wally Jorgenson of Spirit Lake, Iowa, clocked at 1:03.07 -- an average pace of 10:10 per mile.
Certainly one of the best overall performances of the day came from 66-year-old Gary Patton (Rock Rapids, Iowa) who clipped along a 6:40 mile pace and finished an impressive 58th overall, winning his age group by more than 13 minutes with a stellar time of 41:22.
Complete 2012 Turkey Day 10K results are available on the TurkeyDay10K.com website.