Mankato Marathon draws thousands of people

Professors and students at MSU speak on their experience running

Andrew Neururer
Sports Editor

The Mankato Marathon is a nationally known event and arguably the biggest thing attached to the cities name. The marathon was first created in 2009 and sets as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon, an even bigger event.

It was a perfect day for the event, as the sun was shining and Minnesota allowed for a warm 73 degree fall day. There were thousands of people participating on the side and in the race. Groups from Minnesota State University, Mankato, were also present.

There were 379 entries in the marathon, but there are other races for people to participate in if they want to be a part of this big day. There is the 10K (803 entries), Half Marathon (1,111), Marathon Relay (37), Pork Power 5K (699), diaper dash, KidsK and Toddler Trot.

Shane Bowyer, a professor at MNSU, decided to run the marathon for the first time. The road to get to this point has a lot of significance for him. 10 years ago, he helped Visit Mankato and thought to himself that one day he would like to be one of the runners.

The reason run it grew bigger a few years ago, he said, “I said I will do a marathon for my dad’s twin brother who passed away from cancer. I would take a breaks and run while spending time at the hospital and said someday for Uncle Don.”

He went on further to say, “Then I ended up having a couple knee surgeries and thought it may never happened. I started running again and felt good, then in August I decided now is the time.”

Preparing for the marathon, a 26.2-mile run, is not an easy thing. For Bowyer, he’s always jogged, but didn’t know how to get ready for something like this. He designed workouts based off questions he asked his friends who have done marathons before, as well as doing cross training and long and fast short runs.

Bowyer said the people cheering, especially his family and friends helped motivate him. By the end of the race he mentioned that he found himself running faster feeding off the crowd cheering. During the race he saved podcasts to listen to and that helped him take his mind off running. One podcast in particular helped him the most.

Bowyer said, “One podcast I saved for a few months to play for the first time during the marathon was the NPR broadcast of Dan and Angie Bastian building BoomChickaPop. I didn’t know if they would talk about my Uncle Don, but I thought they might as he worked for them. It helped remind me of his last week at the hospital.”

Bowyer wasn’t feeling tired, but it was a relief mentally to finish the race. Knowing the goal he accomplished was exhilarating. 

“Seeing my family there was great. Kissed my wife and said it’s done,” Bowyer said after completing the race.

Heather Camp is also a professor at MNSU and finished fourth among women in the marathon. 

Camp wanted to run in the marathon because she’s from the Mankato area and wanted to represent her hometown. She wanted to celebrate the day and to also recognize how fortunate we are to be living in this town.

She notes that she has great support from her running group and that helps her train. Physical wise, she uses track workouts, tempo, long and recovery runs. 

In order to finish as one of the top racers, Camp said on how she stays motivated, “Crowd support is a powerful motivator. At the Mankato Marathon, runners benefited from MSU’s fantastic Sports Psych Cheer Teams and enthusiastic community volunteers and spectators.” 

She said that the encouraging words were awesome and helped her run faster.

By the end of it, she was exhausted and elated at the finish line. But mentions she was, “so grateful for good health, gorgeous weather, and the prospect of a hot shower in my near future. It was a memorable day.

Ashley Grengs, a student at MNSU, participated in the half marathon. 

Grengs said on why she wanted to participate, “I’ve been running 5k road races since I was 9 years old and in that time, I did 5k and 10k road races. Along with running varsity cross country and track. It’s always been a goal of mine to run a half marathon and ultimately a full marathon one day.”

Eventually she would like to run in the Boston Marathon and believes that running the half marathon is a good steppingstone to eventually doing that.

Grengs prepared for the half marathon by training since March. In that long span of time, she would do a variety of run workouts, cross training and maintain a healthy diet. 

It’s not easy to stay motivated when you’re running or feeling tired for that matter, but she has a clever way of staying in the right mindset.  From her time in cross country, they would write down something on their hand to keep them motivated. 

That thing for Grengs on Saturday was herself, family, friends and getting one race closer to her goal of the Boston Marathon. 

Grengs said on how she felt when crossing the finish line, “Wow, I made it and I’m ready to pass out on the finish line.”

Riley Fazio, a senior at MNSU as well, participated in the 10K.

Fazio said he didn’t prepare well enough for his race, saying that he ran two miles each time he’d go out.

As for wanting to participate, he said, “My mom and I participate in the race every year and by the end of it, you get a commemorative free beer.”

Much like the reason he wanted to participate in race, his answer of staying positive had a similar response. He said, “The fans on the sides cheering you on is motivation enough but getting the free beer and snacks after completing the race also helps with that.”

But by the end of the race, Fazio was feeling dead, but the happiness of completing it outweighed how tired he was.

Another student to run the half marathon was senior Joelle Anderson.

Anderson did well in preparing for her half marathon, as she would get ready for her big race by running twice a week and doing plenty hill workouts. 

Anderson has run in the race the last two years, but this year was even bigger because her brother wanted to join her in running. Much like Fazio, the fans were a huge motivational factor while she was on her quest to finish the race. But the race added a virtual race element as well.

In Mario Kart, when a driver would get a mushroom, it would cause the character to get a boost. In the Mankato Marathon, there was a mushroom button that helped Anderson and other racers get a sense of a boost as they would smash the button.

By the end of the race she said, “I was happy to be done, but completing the race was such a rewarding feeling.”

There were thousands of people that were present at the Mankato marathon and with it being such a beautiful day, it only enhanced the races flare.

Header photo: Participants run through the countryside during the 2019 Mankato Marathon Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019 in Mankato, Minn. (Mansoor Ahmad/MSU Reporter)

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