Posted at: 10/16/2012 8:47 PM
Updated at: 10/17/2012 10:46 PM
By: Laura Kennedy
Saturday brought crisp, fall weather to the Whistlestop Marathon, ideal for runners who worked together over the 26 mile trek.
Ryan Ping of Winona was this year's champion, finishing in two hours, 39 minutes, 23 seconds.
"It was emotional," Ping said. "Especially to come around the corner and see my kids there. It was a lot of fun."
In just her second marathon, Jenelle Deatherage of St. Louis Park not only won the women's division, she broke a record set at the first Whistlestop race.
"That was kind of my goal, "Deatherage said. "I thought if I could get under my personal best, then I could get under the record and it would be a good day."
Even a mid-race mishap couldn't slow her down.
"About mile 14, my shoe came untied," Deatherage said. "I think it's because it was cold and wet and my shoelace slipped. Thankfully, it was at a water station and there was a volunteer. She saved me. Otherwise, I'd probably still be there trying to tie my shoe."
Some of these elite athletes have run in some of the top marathons around the United States. But the Whistlestop race, which ends in Ashland, has a certain small town charm they love.
"I've done Chicago, which is crazy because you've got hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of people watching," Ping said. "Boston Marathon is the same thing, huge crowd, fast downhill course. But this is for a running purist. You don't need a huge crowd. We like this race a lot."
This race may be smaller in numbers, but these runners will tell you it has as much heart as any other.