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Summer Run hits course July 30

FAIRMONT – The Fairmont Summer Run has been known by a couple of different names, has featured a variety of race distances, and been held in four different locations during its 38 years of existence.

Despite the changes in the oldest continuous run in south central Minnesota, two aspects of the event have remained constant – quality competition blended with family-like camaraderie.

The long-running annual event, which features four different distances, begins at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, July 30, at Bob Bonk Track on the Fairmont High School grounds.

“It’s been an interesting evolving transformation throughout the years for those of us who have been involved with this event since its inception,” said long-time Fairmont cross country and track & field coach Bob Bonk, who was one of the run’s founding members. “It originally was held in Gomsrud Park during the mid- to late-1970s when the first running boom hit the country.”

Fairmonters and their fellow Minnesotans laced up their adidas, Nike and Converse running shoes in hopes of emulating legendary USA long-distance standout Frank Shorter after he captured the gold medal in the Olympic marathon race in 1972 before running to silver in 1976.

“He (Shorter) truly inspired the long-distance running trend,” said Bonk.

The original Fairmont Run was a 10K race – 6.2 miles – that included venturing along the bike trail to the Martin County fairgrounds, but due to a lack of shade and limited supporters along the route, it lasted only three or four years, according to Bonk.

The run switched venues for its 10K competition, racing from Gomsrud Park to Lincoln Park to the bike trail, while the 5K run circled Budd Lake.

“The number of entrants in the 10K eventually dwindled, so we (race organizers) eliminated it,” said Bonk. “In the early ’90s, the race had moved to Cedar Creek Park, and we had switched the distances to 5 and 2 miles.

“Cedar Creek Park was a good venue for both the runners and fans during our high school cross country season, so people were familiar with the facility.”

After 15 years at that locale, the Fairmont Cedar Creek Park Run evolved into the Fairmont Summer Run when it moved to the high school campus 4 years ago.

“The park was holding a multi-state disc golf tournament during the same weekend as the run, and unfortunately, it wasn’t big enough from a parking and an overall spatial standpoint. Those factors precipitated the move to the high school after talking to the administration about it,” said Bonk.

After the first year at FHS, the Summer Run’s organizers surveyed the competitors and found out that 4-to-1 runners preferred the relatively flat course that extended down Albion Avenue and back to Bonk Track.

“The parking and fieldhouse at the school are safer and superior to our previous locations, and I think people like starting and finishing on the track. It’s a takeoff on the Olympic marathon,” said Bonk. “Personally, I like the fact that you can see who’s in front and behind you, and overall, it’s more spectator-friendly.

“I would love to see more spectators on Albion Avenue supporting the runners this year.”

Nine course records were established during the 2015 Summer Run, including a family rarity in the 2-mile race. USATF Masters record-holder Sherwood Sagedahl and his son, Joel, each etched their names in the record books during the 37th event. Sherwood Sagedahl shattered the 70-plus division’s best-ever time by pacing a 14 minute, 25-second showing, while Joel Sagedahl crossed the finish line in 13:16 in the 40-49 division.

Ironically, Sherwood Sagedahl also holds the Summer Run’s course record in the 70-plus 5-mile run with a time of 39:27.

“The unique aspect of this event is that it features a real family atmosphere,” said Bonk. “We also take pride in the quality runners who have competed here throughout the years, and how they keep coming back because they enjoy it.”

Jennifer (Feely) Bromeland still holds an incredible three 5-mile records in the 19-25 bracket (30:39), 26-32 division (33:40) and currently, the 33-39 class (32:36).

From another family perspective, siblings Isaiah Peters and Hadassah Peters hold the 2-mile marks in the 20-29 division, with Hadassah sharing the women’s record with Kaia Jones.

Ironically, Mark Peters – the father of Isaiah and Hadassah – holds the 60-69 bracket’s 2-mile run record.

“It’s like being a part of one big family when you run this event,” said Bonk. “It’s one of the few places where kids (age 13 and under) run for free, there’s a water stop at every mile, the dry-fit shirts for competing are excellent, a generous amount of awards are given out, and there’s a team competition.”

The 5-mile run kicks off the Summer Run at 8:30 a.m. July 30 at Bonk Track, followed by the 2-mile run/walk at 9:30 a.m. The quarter-mile run for ages 9 and under takes place at 10 a.m., the half-mile run for ages 13 and under follows at 10:05 a.m., with the awards program at 10:15 a.m. or so.

“It lives up to its name – it’s a lot of fun for runners and spectators alike,” said Bonk.

Runners can register online at: fairmontareaschools.portal.rschooltoday.com, click ‘Webstore’ and then Community Education and Recreation.

Registration forms also are available at the CER Office at 714 Victoria St. in Fairmont.

The pre-registration deadline is noon Tuesday, July 26. Race-day registration starts at 7:30 a.m. July 30 at Fairmont High School, and closes 10 minutes prior to each race.