Turkey Day 10K: Road race events are family affairs

BY LES KNUTSON The Globe WORTHINGTON -- Saturday's King Turkey Day two road races and the popular 5K walk were indeed family affairs, involving numerous combinations of parents with sons or daughters, siblings, husbands and wives, as well as gran...

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A thunder storm moves though Worthington at the start of the King Turkey Day 10K run Saturday morning. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)



The Globe

WORTHINGTON -- Saturday’s King Turkey Day two road races and the popular 5K walk were indeed family affairs, involving numerous combinations of parents with sons or daughters, siblings, husbands and wives, as well as grandparents with grandchildren.

Beginning with 115 finishers in morning’s first event, a 5K run, Worthington’s downtown 10th street was filled with participants as a cold front moved through the area, changing the weather from the previous week’s heat and humidity to a cool and comfortable day for running.


A downpour during the first 10 minutes of the 10K may have slowed some of the times of that event and likely changed the minds of several of the registered participants, as only 198 runners completed the full circuit, which covered 6.2 miles.

“Despite the rain at the start of the 10K, the events went well,” summed up Jenna Bents, one of the lead organizers of the YMCA-sponsored races. “One of the reasons for including a 5K this year was to make things more family-oriented and that was certainly true, as families really participated in all three of the events.”

Between the two races, there were 315 walkers who completed the same course covered by the 5K runners, a distance of 3.1 miles, giving the three events a total of 628 finishing participants.

“It was a busy morning, that’s for sure,” Bents said. “Overall, the cooler weather helped, but the heavy rain right before the start of the 10K must have deterred some of the potential runners, as we had only 198 finishers after having almost 250 signed up.”

With the rain falling down steadily, the trio of Todd Vlieger, Barry Fischer and Adam Koller took the lead early in the 10K and stretched the distance on the rest of the field, while Jennifer Vander Vegt (Sioux Center, Iowa) ran near the front and won her second women’s 10K title in the past three years.

Vlieger, a former collegiate cross country runner (2005-2009) at South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D. and the son of Steve Vlieger (Mitchell, S.D.) who has ran in all 38 Turkey Day 10Ks, pulled away and clocked a winning time Saturday of 35:27, averaging 5:43 per mile.

“It was pouring rain, so I decided to move a bit faster,” said Vlieger, who lives and works in Aurora, Nebraska. “I began breaking away during the second and third miles which was about the time the rain let up and then stopped.”

Fischer, who won the men’s 40-49 age group, finished second with a time of 36:29, while the 15-year-old Koller, a sophomore cross country runner for Worthington High School, finished third with his time of 36:38 (5:54 per mile), which was 86 seconds faster than his eighth-place time of 38:04 a year ago. In 2015, Koller ran the course in 39:42 and finished 10th.


Vander Vegt finished eighth overall with a time of 40:55 (6:55 per mile). She was the first women’s finisher in 2015 and was second last year (10th overall) with identical times of 39:26.

Women’s age-group winners included Kate Ling (Minneapolis), 14 and under, 1:02:09; Seni Uli (Worthington), 15-19, 44:25; Kaitlin Gerber (Owatonna), 20-29, 44:25; Erica Prins (Kenneth), 30-39, 49:29; Vander Vegt, 40-49; Lynette Faragher, 50-59, 54:33; and Joan Schafer (Rosemount), 60-69, 54:59.

Uli and Gerber (16th overall) tied for second place in the women’s division. Uli is Worthington High School’s best female cross country runner, while Gerber held that same distinction a decade ago.

Men’s age group winners were Alec Langerud (Worthington), 14 and under, 45:24; Koller, 15-19; Tim Bierma (Sioux Center, Iowa), 20-29, 38:17;  Vlieger, 30-39; Fischer, 40-49; Mark Kocak (Jackson), 50-59, 41:23; Wayne Drealan (Fulda), 60-69, 47:45; and Sherwood Sagedahl (Fairmont), 70-79, 47:53.

Moore, Solheid win 5Ks; Hinkeldey runs both races Worthington’s Davis Moore was the first overall finisher in the 5K, clocking a time of 20:43, followed by Rushmore’s Grant Peterson (20:55) and Worthington’s Jake Ahrenstorff (21:17).

Jenika Solheid of St. James finished sixth overall and was the first women’s finisher with her time of 23:26, followed closely by Courtney Van Beek of Sanborn, Iowa (23:28). Johanna Artiga Nunez of Worthington was the third female finisher in the 5K with a time of 24:48.

Kim Hinkeldey of Jackson finished both races Saturday, clocking a time of 26:24 in the 5K (19th overall, second in the women’s 40 and older age group) before running the 10K  course in 57:44 (fourth, women’s 50-59 age group, 108th overall).

Complete results for both the 5K and 10K are posted at



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