5K has big turnout

This year’s Rum River Festival 5K run/walk (3.1 miles) had one of the biggest turnouts of participants at 189, according to organizer Deb Ulm.

Many of the runners talked to profess a love for running, many talking about it giving them a “high.”

About a half dozen of the participants were walkers and some of them pushed strollers in the beautiful but slightly warm weather for the race this past Saturday morning. Lee Dettmer, who ran it with his wife Shirley, said he had expected that there would be some breeze in the flats along the golf course but instead the air was still. Up on the higher ground and where trees didn’t block air movement, a refreshing breeze came from the northwest.

The race began at 8:30 a.m. on Fourth Avenue South next to the Princeton Area Library and went south past the golf course to near the city’s wastewater treatment plant property. From there the route doubled back to finish where the race began.

It was 17-year-old, Ryan Yonak, of Princeton, who arrived at the finish line first, with a time of 18:13, to also capture the title for the men’s 18 and under category. Yonak, who will be a senior at Princeton High School this coming fall, has participated in track and cross country at PHS. He plans to do “fun runs during the summer” and  will be training for cross country next school year, he said. Winning the festival 5K “is really good for the start of my workout this summer,” he added.

Shaelin Lekatz, 15, of Princeton, won the women’s 18 and under, coming in at 20:59. She will be a sophomore at PHS in the fall. This is her second time of running in the festival 5K.

Looking at this year’s results, Lekatz said she wishes she had sprinted to move up a notch in the race overall.

“I like the feeling afterward,” Lekatz said about running, “and the free feeling when I run, and just pushing myself.”

Daniel Scheff, 31, of Greely, Colo., winner of the men’s 19-34 category, is a native of Harris, Minn. Scheff, who posted a time of 18:57, is a graduate student at the University of Northern Colorado, where he is also a cross country and track and field coach.

Scheff says he has completed 40 marathons and that his personal best time for a marathon is 3:10:07. He twice qualified for the Boston Marathon, and was running in the festival 5K as training for this coming weekend’s Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth. The 5K went well, he said, calling it a “good speed day,” and that it was a faster pace than he would run in a marathon.

Heidi Schroeder, 23, of Milaca, who is a professional care assistant for handicapped children and aged adults, won in the women’s 19-34 bracket with a time of 20:15.

Schroeder’s running experience includes the festival 5K three years ago when she also took first in women’s. She has also run twice (this year and last) in Milaca’s Runnin’ in the Ruff 10K, which is over trails. She came in first for women, coming in just five seconds behind first place this year, she said. She has also run in Cambridge’s 5K Renegade Run, winning both times in the women’s.

Schroeder started running four years ago, trying a 5K run in Milaca. “I thought I would give it a try and beat all the girls there,” she said.

Did Schroeder have a secret weapon in her father Gerald? Heidi noted that her father has a candy treats business and that she ate one of his cotton candies about a half hour before the race. That gave her a “sugar burst” of energy, she said.

Schroeder says that running helps her study at college. She is attending Anoka Ramsey Community College and hopes to enroll in a nursing studies program.

Jason Belair, 35, a Princeton native, lives in Elk River. His time of 20:15 made him the champ in the men’s 35-49 category. He is a field technician who samples groundwater. The festival 5K was his first 5K ever and his first competitive race since track at PHS. His goal now is to run in more 5K runs.

Lisa Swedzinski, 48, of the Princeton-Zimmerman area, came in at 22:51 to take the women’s 35-49 category. She ran with her daughter Samantha, 12, who came in third in the women’s 18 & under with a time of 22:50. Samantha asked Lisa to run in the festival 5K and asked if she could cross the finish line before Lisa and she did.

Lisa was Lisa Herman at PHS, where she ran in track and cross country and still holds the best time at PHS for the women’s 3200 meter. Lisa says she usually runs a lot of 5Ks (about 15) but not so much in recent time, because of keeping busy with children ages 12 and 14. Lisa has also run about four 10K races and ran when she was at Golden Valley Lutheran College.

“I just enjoy running every day,” she said. “It’s a passion I have.” It’s also fun to be a part of the group sharing that passion, she added.

Lisa is clearly proud of Samantha, noting that her daughter was all-conference as a seventh grade runner this past school year, taking first in track in cross country, and was first in the middle school’s 1600 meter.

Gary Wernersbach, 54, of Zimmerman, had a time of 24:11 to win the men’s 50 and over in the 5K. He owns and operates The Small Engine Shop in Zimmerman, and has been a veteran runner since he decided at age 49 to run to lose weight. He was in track and field in his school days in Burnsville.

Since starting running, he has participated in 5Ks to 50Ks, and has run four marathons and four Half Iron Mans. The Half Iron Man, also known as the Iron Man 70.3, involves a distance of 70.3 miles. It consists of swimming 1.2 miles, bicycling 56 miles and running 13.1 miles. He does the Twin City Marathons because it fits his schedule, he said. Wernersbach calls his running a “hobby,” and “just a way to relax,” saying it “clears the mind.”

He often runs on Sherburne County Road 45 and sometimes takes his dogs on the runs. If he and the dogs come into a town then the pace gets slower because the dogs want to sniff and socialize, he notes.

His first race was the festival 5K some time ago. He remembers how proud he was to get the race’s T-shirt and then felt bad getting it stained while staining a picnic table. Now, he says, he has a closet full of those T-shirts.

Sue Rivera, 53, of Zimmerman, took the women’s 50 & over category with a time of 28:56. Rivera is a director of field services for Integra Telecom out of Golden Valley. She started running two years ago, participating in the 5K Lupus charity run in the Twin Cities and the Orono Firemen’s 5K. She credits her personal trainer Brenda Cowles with giving  her “inspiration, support and guidance to get the best results.”

Why does Rivera run? “The enjoyment and high I get,” she said. She called her finish in the festival 5K one of her best times ever.