Les Knutson: Flock of runners ran to Turkey Day 10K
WORTHINGTON — Standing by the finish line Saturday as a steady “flock” of runners completed the 34th annual Turkey Day 10K was an interesting experience.
Steve Navara, a former Worthington High School athlete from the early 1960s and, later, a long-time teacher and coach at Wells (now United South Central), was reading off each finisher’s bib number as they approached the end of their 10,000 meter or 6.2 mile run.
The facial expressions and body language — along with a few verbal comments — varied from finisher to finisher throughout the more than hour-long process.
That’s right, it was 73 minutes and eight seconds from first to last as a grand total of 499 — 254 females and 245 males — completed the trek down 10th Street, around Lake Okabena and back up 10th to the Third Avenue finish.
Some runners had a “kick” left in their “tank,” while most just crossed the line at about the same pace that carried them the distance.
Many displayed their joy with a smile or a victory shout, while others crossed with grim determination.
But all 499 were winners.
Completing a six-mile plus run is an accomplishment, no matter how fast.
So, I would like to offer my congratulations to all 499 of this year’s Turkey Day 10K finishers. Well done, athletes.
Lots of families run
As usual, there were many families who participated, including all five of the Wilson’s — John, Lynn, Josh, Mathias and Rachel — from rural Round Lake. Josh, who is a cancer survivor, claimed family “bragging rights” with a fine run of 48:52, finishing in the top 100 overall and 12th in his age group (men’s 35-39).
It’s hard to believe that Josh, a Worthington pharmacist, is already 35. He’s doing well as Saturday’s performance indicates.
The three Klumper kids — Dan, Tresse Evenson and Joe —all ran together, honoring their father, Wayne, who just came home last week after being hospitalized for 79 days with serious injuries from a June 25 motorcycle accident.
Judge Gordon Moore, his wife Jane (a writer for the Daily Globe) and daughter, Meredith, all ran the course Saturday. Meredith, a top-notch high school cross country runner for the Trojans, was the first Moore to cross, covering the distance in 46:20 and winning her age group (women’s 15-19) by 34 seconds.
“I’m just glad there were some people behind me,” joked Jane at the popular post-race picnic afterwards. “I know there were a lot in front of me.”
Yes, Jane, there were runners behind you — more than half of them.
Finishing 243rd overall, Jane ran the course in 56:24, averaging 9:05 per mile, and placed ninth in her age group (women’s 45-49) out of 23 finishers. So, Jane, there were 14 runners in your age group behind you and a total of 256 in the whole race.
The judge, however, was one of those in front. Gordon clocked a time of 54:15, placing 198th overall and 11th out of 25 in the men’s 50-54 age group.
Wagner sisters are
The post-race picnic is where I “ran into” a lot of the runners, who I “missed” as they crossed the line.
Sisters LeNae Polz and LaNette Horkey of Prior Lake, the daughters of Jerry and Carol Wagner of Heron Lake, crossed together and were having a good time at the picnic.
Both former students of mine at Heron Lake-Okabena, these two travel — with their husbands — all over the country competing in different events.
“We’ve done the ‘tough mudder’ in Las Vegas, which is really fun,” exclaimed LeNae, a 1987 HL-O graduate. “We just love going to events like this. We came here today because Hairball (a popular band which plays 1980s music) is in town tonight.”
So, LeNae and LaNette made a whole day of it Worthington Saturday.
LaNette’s husband, Donny, was a big-time Scarlet Knight’s athlete in the late 80s, excelling in football, basketball and track and field.
“So, a 157-foot discus thrower can run six miles,” I said to Don when I saw him at the picnic. Horkey did, completing the distance in 52:54.
“We’ve done lots of these, including the ‘tough mudder’ in Vegas which is a real challenge,“ he told me. “We stay in shape and travel together.”
It seems the “tough mudder” is an obstacle course race which has been dubbed as the “toughest event on the planet,” a hardcore endurance event which tests strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie to the “max.”
And LeNae, who did not like running the mile in physical education class 28 years ago, thinks that’s fun!
Lots of brother-brother, sister-sister, father-son, mother-daughter and vise versa combinations ran together Saturday, including Michael (43) and Payton Marquardt (13) of Worthington.
Eight-year-old Pierce Hetland of Spirit Lake must have run with dad, Brett (42), and eight-year-old Miles Fischer of Worthington cruised with his mom, Kathleen (36).
There were many other similar combinations, including 11-year-old Regan Feit of Luverne, the youngest female runner who earned the third-place medal in her age group (women’s 14 and under) with a fine time of 54:49, accompanied by mother Amy (33).
have jogged long
routes to prepare
Two of the most interesting talks that I had at the picnic were with Steve Ruthenbeck and Fritz Korthals, who have both done some very long training runs to prepare.
Ruthenbeck, 39, works out often in the Wellness Center at the Southwest Star Concept High School in Okabena. Saturday was his first Turkey Day 10K.
On August 10, Ruthenbeck did his longest run ever, running a full marathon distance (26.2 miles) by running almost seven laps around his section.
“I didn’t want to get too far from home in case something happened,” explained Ruthenbeck about his repeat four-mile laps.
Korthals, who has run in lots of Turkey Day 10Ks, has a couple of different long-run routes.
“I have jogged as many as six laps around the lake (Lake Okabena),” he told me. “But, I have also jogged from Worthington to Reading down to Rushmore and then back to Worthington.”
Both of those are 30-mile runs. That’s a long way.
But, as Korthals puts it:
“I have a lot of great memories from my jogging experiences. I have jogged enough miles in my life to go across the United States and back two-and-a-half times.”
No wonder, Saturday’s 10K was a just a short jog for the 77-year-old retired furniture dealer and father of Daily Globe photographer, Brian. Fritz has stayed in remarkable shape by jogging and biking.