Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Koski to Teach On-Line Marathoning Course

Two Harbors resident Katie Koski, the seventh place finisher at the 2005 Grandma's Marathon and one of the country's most intriguing ultra-marathoning prospects, will teach an on-line class geared for participants in June's Grandma's Marathon and Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon.

The course, offered via Lake Superior College, is available in both for-credit or not-for-credit forms. Additional information on the class, which begins March 20th, can be found here.

"I would like students in the class to be able to share in my many experiences running and training for Grandma's," Koski told DtB. "I believe I can be a mentor to the beginning runner and a sounding board and running pal to the advanced runner."

Koski has run eight Grandma's Marathons, twice qualifying for the Olympic Trials at the event. The North Shore has been good to her in a longer event too. In her only ultra, Koski won the 2005 Edmund Fitzgerald 100K race (and finished third overall) with the 9th fastest U.S. women's 100K mark all-time of 8:00:23. The effort earned Koski a spot on the USA team for the World 100K Championships in South Korea last fall, although she was forced to withdraw due to injury.

Koski is currently training for the 2007 Grandma's Marathon. (Full disclosure: I am her coach.)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Collegiate Athletes of the Week

I'm guessing the MIAC would love to name someone other than Amanda Weinmann (pictured) as their women's field eventer of the week. Amanda, however, just won't let them!

The St. Mary's senior earned the honor again this week for a third straight time because she keeps throwing heavy things farther and farther. She broke her school shot put and weight throw records by more than a foot each at the Blizzard Open at UW - Superior on Saturday. She put the shot 44-2 and tossed the 20-pound weight 52-4 3/4. She's currently ranked #5 in both events for NCAA Division III.

Also honored by the MIAC, Macalester hurdler Kaela Schramm and Carleton middle distance runner (whom I have the pleasure of coaching) Ryan Martinez.

In the NCC, Mankato high jumper Jim Dilling earned his third straight AOW honor as well. He was joined by teammates Jesse Merkel, a distance runner, and pole vaulter Katelin Rains among Minnesotans honored by the conference this week. Dilling jumped 7-6 1/2 at the Wisconsin Elite Invitational, the top mark in the U.S. this season, according to the NCC.

The NSIC announces their AOWs a bit later than the others. Until they're released, here are their top-10 performers this season for men and women.

Update: Winona State's Emily King and Bemidji State's Joe Remitz are the Minnesotan's named Athlete of the Week in the NSIC. King leads NCAA Division II in the 20-poiund wieght throw with a 61-7 toss. Remitz is 5th on the DII shot list with a 55-11 put.

Photos courtesy of St. Mary's University.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Garrett Heath Talks About Last Weekend's Fast DMR and 3000m in Seattle

We tracked down former Winona High School star Garrett Heath, now a red-shirt sophomore at Stanford, after last weekend's successes at the UW Invite in Seattle. Heath split 2:56 on the 1200 meter leg of Stanford's meet-winning and NCAA Indoor automatic qualifying 9:33.16 distance medly relay team and followed up the next afternoon with an NCAA provisional qualifying mark of 8:01.96 for 3000m.

"I really didn’t know what to expect as my legs were pretty tired from the day before going in," Heath said of the 3000. "I knew that I could run around 8:00 when I was fresh, but after the 1200 on Friday and being a little tired coming in I wasn’t really sure. I really was aiming for anything around the provisional time of 8:05 or faster."

The former MSHSL state cross country, nordic skiing, and track champion plans to race the mile in either Arkansas or Seattle in two weeks and then, depending on that outcome, run either another mile or 3000 in preparation for what he hopes will be a busy and successful NCAAs.

"I would also like to run another 1200m leg at some point this season to get used to the distance a little more, as doing well as a team in the DMR is what I really want to focus on this indoor season," Heath said.

Last year, with Heath anchoring on the mile leg, the Cardinal DMR finished 8th in 9:41.91.

Photo courtesy of Stanford University.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Jenna Boren: "I had two voices in my head ... "

Jenna Boren, who lopped big chunks of time off her marathon PR in her last two outings, was recently featured on Chad Austin's fine Running Minnesota blog. The St. Olaf grad ran an impressive 2:45:51 at the sticky 2006 Grandma's Marathon and topped that a few weeks ago running 2:42:39 at the Chevron Houston Marathon.

My favorite Boren quote from Chad's piece: "I had two voices in my head; one telling me to hold back and the other telling me to go. I listened to the "hold back” voice through mile 25 because I was SO afraid of blowing up. I was in a bit of shock that my legs felt as good as they did, but I didn't trust myself either. I never really felt bad or on the edge. I was more afraid of my past tendencies to explode in the marathon."

At the top of Running Minnesota page now is an interview with Run N Fun's Erin Ward, a Minnesota runner not unfamiliar, as you'll read, with big PRs herself.

Photo by Todd Sheldon: Boren at the 2005 Twin Cities Marathon

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Short-Cut: Weekend Results for January 26-28

Quick links to results from this weekend's important events:

Gustavus & St. Thomas @ St. Olaf: Men/Women
Update: Katie Theisen, St. Thomas, jumps 17-2; Joe DeFrance, St. Thomas, runs 22.72

Carleton Open: Men/Professors' Mile
Update: Steve White 15-7, Pat Lehmann 1:56.17, Jon Stoltman4:19.76, Ryan Martinez 4:19.95

Washington Invitational (Seattle): Men & Women
Update: Leer 14:32, Vega 14:40, Puhl 14:41; Gopher DMR 9:58.30

Norwich Union International (Glasgow) Men & Women
Update: Potter 4th, 48.40; USA, Great Britain, and Germany tie

Reebok Boston Indoor Games: Men & Women
Update: Deatherage 8th in 4:40.43

Washington Invitational (Seattle): Men's & Women's Live Results
Update: Wetsch (Ore) 5:02.19; Heath (Stan) 8:01, Torchia 8:16, Rombough 8:17

Adidas Classic (Lincoln, Ne): Men & Women
Update: The Aarons -- Buzard "provos" 47.20, Studt puts 56-5 1/4

UNI Invite: Women
Update: Danielle Larson: 5-3

Wisconsin Elite: Men/Women
Update: Jim Dilling high jumps 7-6 1/2; Katelin Rains vaults 12-11 1/2

Securian Frozen Events: Half Marathon
Update: Pat Russell 1:09.56, TC Lumbar 1:09:57

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Former Gopher Mitch Potter to Represent USA in Scotland

2003 Pan-American Games 400 meter champion Mitch Potter will represent the USA tomorrow in the Norwich Union International meet in Glasgow, Scotland. The former Gopher star was the 25th fastest quarter-miler in the world last year with a 45.06 clocking outdoors. Potter has a personal best of 44.58 from his junior year at Minnesota.

The Glasgow meet features teams from the USA, Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, and the British Commonwealth. Click here for details on the USA squad.

Gopher Distance Runners Eye Seattle Meet

If you've examined results from the two University of Minnesota men's meets, you've noticed that Gopher long distance star Chris Rombough (pictured) hasn't raced longer than 800 meters.

The sophomore, who came into his own last fall winning the Big Ten cross country title and finishing 14th at NCAAs, has run a pair of 800s -- clocking 1:55.84 in the faster of the two -- and a 4 x 400 leg. This weekend, though, he'll run one of his main events, the 3000 meters, at the Washington Invitational in Seattle.

"He has been 'training long and racing short,' at this early preparatory date in the season," Gopher distance coach Steve Plascencia explained in an e-mail exchange with DtB. "With this season really still in its infancy, we look to maintain a good training regimen with periodic racing. We will find out where he currently is in terms of race fitness at a relevant distance in Seattle."

The Gopher's star freshman Mike Torchia will also race 3000m in Seattle. He ran unattached in the mile at the Northwest Open, clocking a modest 4:18.80, but will don the maroon and gold this weekend for his first official race as a Gopher trackster.

Plascencia reports that his distance crew is largely healthy "and working hard right now."

"We hope to see good results in the upcoming weeks," he said.

Update: The heat sheets are up for the meet. Rombough is joined in Saturday's fast first section of the 3000m by former Winona HS star Garrett Heath of Stanford and former Stillwater HS and William & Mary star Sean Graham. Torchia runs in the third section. Antonio Vega of the Gophers is matched up tonight with Minnetonka HS grad Will Lear of Pomona-Pitzer in the 5000.

Also, Bria Wetsch opens her Oregon career in the Mile at the meet.

Photo courtesy of the U of M.

Deatherage to Run Reebok Boston Indoor Games Mile

Team USA Minnesota's Jenelle Deatherage will open her indoor season Saturday at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games. Deatherage, who started her 2006 campaign at the same meet with an eighth place 4:37.86, has a mile best of 4:31.58.

Lining up with Deatherage are 2006 Reebok Boston mile champ Carmen Douma-Hussar of Canada, U.S. Olympian Shayne Culpepper, fellow American Sara Hall, Australian record-holder Sarah Jamieson, and Ethiopian stars Meskerem Legesse and Mestawot Tadesse.

Headliners for this loaded meet include Ethiopians Tirunesh Dibaba, Meseret Defar, and Gebre Gebremariam; American miler Alan Webb, Australian Craig Mottram, and U.S. sprint star Shawn Crawford.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Gopher Lizzes Named Big Ten Athletes of the Week

A pair of Gopher women -- both named Liz -- swept Athlete of the Week honors in the Big Ten.

Roehrig, the winner the pentathlon at the Jack Johnson Minnesota Classic last weekend with an NCAA automatic qualifying score of 4,120, was the conference's track athlete of the week. Liz Alabi (pictured), who had two NCAA provisional qualifying marks in the shot put and 20-pound weight throw at the meet, was named the week's top field eventer.

Roehrig won all five events of the pentathlon and her high jump of 5-10 was, itself, an NCAA provisional qualifying mark. The junior's score set a new school, meet and field house record. Alabi, a senior,
took first in the weight throw with a meet record distance of 63-5 1/2 and placed second in the shot put at 50-1 3/4.

Read more on the Gopher Women's Track web-site.

Photo courtesy of the Big Ten.

TCM's Virginia Brophy Achman Elected Running USA Vice President

Twin Cities Marathon Executive Director Virginia Brophy Achman was recently named co-vice president of Running USA's Board of Directors. Brophy Achman (pictured) was elected to a two-year term.

Fellow officers include president, Allan Steinfeld of the ING New York City Marathon, co-vice president Doug Kaplan, Gen-A Media & Marketing, secretary, Tracey Russell, Atlanta Track Club, and treasurer, Bruce Franke, MarathonFoto.

"The opportunity to work with so many leaders in the running community means we can collaborate ideas and efforts to further promote the sport of running," Achman said in a media release.

Achman has been the TCM Executive Director since 2004.

Running USA, founded in 1999, is a non-profit association devoted to improving the status of road racing and long distance running in the United States. Its event members represent over 500 U.S. races.

Last fall, I interviewed Brophy Achman prior to the 2006 edition of her race for this issue of the Running USA Wire.

Photo courtesy of Twin Cities Marathon.

New Face at Life Time Fitness Running Club

Life Time Fitness National Running Club Manager Dan Finanger recently announced that Rebekah Mayer has been hired as the new Running Club Coordinator at the LTF St. Louis Park club.

Running as Rebekah Walter, Mayer was a 6-time All-American and a member of the 2003 NCAA Division II cross country championship team at Adams State College. Originally from Bemidji, Mayer gravitated to the steeplechase at Adams State, eventually holding the school record. Recently, Mayer has been competing for Run N Fun in local races.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Collegiate Athletes of the Week

It's Tuesday, and the college conference media mills have stamped out another shining set of Athletes of the Week.

The MIAC recognized Hamline distance runner Brandon Gleason (pictured) and St. Thomas long jumper James Ewer on the men's side along with St. Thomas quarter-miler Christina Chapman and Saint Mary's thrower Amanda Weinmann for the women. Weinmann is a repeat AOW from last week.

Two Minnesota State Mankato athletes were recognized this week by the NCC. High jumper Jim Dilling repeats from last week and is joined by pole vaulter and fellow Maverick Katelin Rains.

Addition: In the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, sprinter Kawaskii Bacon of Concordia (St. Paul) and pole vaulter/jumper/sprinter Jennifer Hensel of Minnesota State Moorhead were the honored atheltes from Minnesota schools.

Photo courtesy of Hamline University

Monday, January 22, 2007

MEADP Grant Winners Announced

The Minnesota Elite Athlete Development Program awarded its 2007 stipends at Saturday's MDRA Annual Party. Offered grants for "reaching their fullest potential" were:

Team USA Minnesota's Kristen Nicolini (pictured)- $1,500
Run N Fun's Erin Ward - $500
GEAR's Pete Gilman - $1,000
Team USA Minnesota's Brad Lowery - $500
Team USA Minnesota's Ryan Kleimenhagen - $500

The grants awarded to the state's promising distance runners by MEADP -- a partnership of Grandma's Marathon, the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathons, MDRA, and Austin-Jarrow Sports -- are unique and generous. The USA Track & Field Foundation, by comparison, granted just five $3000 stipends nation-wide to track and field athletes this year.

Thanks to Grandma's PR Director Bob Gustafson for MEADP details.

Photo courtesy of Team USA Minnesota.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Gophers Roll at Jack Johnson Invite

The Minnesota men's track and field team won five events and Gopher women broke three school or meet records at the Jack Johnson Minnesota Invitational Saturday.

The Gopher men had victors in the triple jump (Derek Gearman), 600 meters (Walter Langkau), 800m (Eddie Kibira), 3000m (Ben Puhl), and Heptathlon (Dave Meissner).

For the Gopher gals, Dawn Solberg set a school record in the 60m hurdles with an 8.67 clocking, Heather Dorniden established a school school record in the 600m running 1:29:31, and Liz Alabi broke former Gopher Aubrey Schmitt's meet record in the 20-pound weight with a toss of 63-5 1/2.

Ink: Out There in the Cold

Today's edition of the Star Tribune has a feature on winter running by Stephen Regenold. The article includes quotes from Minnesota running fixtures Kurt Decker, Heidi Keller Miler, Paula Vicker and Brian McCollor. Believe it or not, people actually run outside in the winter.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Short-Cut: Weekend Results for January 19-21

This and every Friday ... short-cuts to the weekend's results:

Jack Johnson Minnesota Pentathlon (U of M): Women
Update: Liz Roehrig wins with fieldhouse and team record 4120.

Iowa State Open (Day 1): Men/Women
Update: St. Thomas' James Ewer wins long jump with 23-2 leap.

St. Olaf Invitational: Women
Update: St. Olaf's Stacy Griffin throws the weight 15.66/51-4 1/2.

Jack Johnson Minnesota Invitational (U 0f M): Men/Women
Update: Team USA's Lowery miles 4:03.47.
Update: Heather Dorniden runs school record 1:29.31 600m.

Carleton, Hamline, and St. Olaf: Men
Update: Hamline's Brandon Gleason opens with 8:33.51 3000m.

Iowa State Open (Day 2): Men/Women
Update: St. Thomas' Brian Sames clocks 1:55.39 800m.

The Frigid 5: Men & Women

Grandma's Marathon Registration Opens

If you ran in either of the last two Grandma's Marathons or have already requested an entry to this year's event, look to your mailbox for registration materials.

(If your name is Halina Karnatsevich, um, don't expect an entry.)

Beginning Monday, January 22, printable versions fo the entry form for the June 16 race will be available to download by visiting the race web-site. Entry forms are also available at Wells Fargo Bank Duluth, Duluth area Target Stores, Austin-Jarrow, and many other sporting goods stores and fitness centers throughout the Duluth area.

The race is limited to 9,500 entrants and has filled to capacity in each of the last twelve years. Grandma's is the 13th largest marathon in the U.S.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Kleimenhagen, Lowery Eye Slack's U of M Fieldhouse Record

Team USA Minnesota milers Ryan Kleimenhagen and Brad Lowery will have their eyes on Minnesota Track and Field Hall of Famer Mike Slack's 1977 U of M fieldhouse record of 4:02.3 when they open their indoor campaigns this weekend at the Jack Johnson Minnesota Classic.

Kleimenhagen, who ran a 3:59.00 mile last January at the Boston Indoor Games, and Lowery, who has a 4:01.67 lifetime-best in the event, are also shooting for the 4:01.20 standard which would qualify them for the AT&T USA Indoor Championships to be held February 24-25 in Boston.

Competition at the meet begins at 10:00 a.m.; the gun for the Men's Mile fires at noon.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Robertz Resigns from USATF Post

USATF Minnnesota's Managing Director Janet Robertz has resigned from her position with the organization. Robertz will be moving to Florida, where her husband Scott has accepted a job opportunity.

The USATF Minnesota board has begun an evaluation of the position and a search for a replacement. Robertz will not be leaving immediately, allowing for a period of training and transition. For more information on the position, contact USATF Minnesota Vice President Chris Kartschoke at

Collegiate Athletes of the Week

Come mid-week, the collegiate conferences busy themselves naming their best athletes from the weekend prior. Here's this week's run-down:

The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference named St. Thomas pole vaulter Matt Schroeder, St. Mary's thrower Amanda Weinmann, and St. Olaf distance runner Jenna Carlson and thrower Stacy Griffin, their Athletes of the Week.

Likewise, shot putter Amanda Kunkel of St. Cloud State and pole vaulter Katelin Rains and high jumper Jim Dilling (pictured) of Minnesota State Mankato were named the North Central Conference Athletes of the Week.

Update: Dilling's leap of 7-3 3/4 last weekend tops the 2007 U.S. list in the high jump, according to USA Track & Field.

Photo courtesy of the NCC.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Spend your Saturday with MDRA

The Minnesota Distance Running Association has a full day of events planned for Saturday, January 20th. The day kicks off with the MDRA Race Director's Conference from 8:00 to Noon, promising "everything you need to know to put on a successful event." The MDRA Annual Party runs from 11:30 to 2:00, with free pizza for MDRA members, an awards program and more.

"I started feeling really good around six miles."

Andrew Carlson comments on his 1:02:44, 4th place, performance at the USA Half Marathon Championship in the latest news release from Team USA Minnesota. It appears Carlson's time puts him just outside the top-50 U.S. half marathoners all-time, according to this list complied by the Association of Road Racing Statisticians.

Also noted in the Team USA release is Katie McGregor's 34:01 win at the Bermuda International 10K.

You can read summaries of other events held last weekend by clicking the links below:

Northwest Open Women

Northwest Open Men

Matt Hooley's Olympic Trails Qualifier at Houston

Katie McGregor wins Bermuda International 10K

Monday, January 15, 2007

150 Laps Later ...

... Randy Peterson defended his Zoom Yah! Yah! Indoor Marathon title and established a new course/track record of 3:03:35, bettering his old mark of 3:07:50. Dan Casper was the runner-up at 3:13:22. Both Peterson and Casper are Northfield residents.

Amy Wolf of Faribault, the first-ever female finisher of the "Zoom," established a women's record of 4:27:52 with her win. Shannyn Magee of St. Paul was second at 4:50:55.

Thanks to Dick Daymont for sending along results.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Results Short-Cut: January 13-14

Here, in what we hope will be a helpful regular feature on DTB, are some quick links to results for the weekend's important events.


Northwest Open (U of M): Men/ Women
(And ... check out Chad Austin's interview with just-retired (sort of) Gopher women's coach Gary Wilson.)

Update: Division III Champ, 'Tonka grad, Will Lear miles 4:07

Update: Gopher Liz Alabi shot puts 50-7 1/4

MSU-Mankato: Men/Women

Update: Division II Champ Jim Dilling high jumps 7-3 3/4

Bison Open (NDSU): Men/Women


USA Half Marathon Championships: Men & Women

Update: Andrew Carlson, 4th, 1:02:44; Jason Lehmkuhle, 5th, 1:02:51

Update: Anne Bersagel, 19th, 1:17:36

Update: Kevin Haas, 2nd master, 1st in age group, 1:13:27

Houston Marathon: Men & Women

Update: Jenna Boren, 5th, 2:42:39; Mike Reneau 2:17:46

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Houston: The Marathoners

It's not only the USA Half Marathon that they're holding in Houston this weekend. Events there also include the Chevron Houston Marathon which, thanks to a unique athlete support program and a fast course (but, perehaps, muggy conditions), has drawn a number of Olympic Marathon Trails hopefuls... many of them Minnesotans!

Serious post-collegiate distance running at levels below that of, say, Team USA Minnesota or Michigan's Hanson's Brooks Distance Project can be a lonely pursuit. I've always had a special respect for these lone athletes chasing an Olympic — or at least Olympic Trials — dream. I'm glad to see the Houston folks stepping up for them in the way they are.

Among the large group of such runners toeing the line in Houston are: former Carleton College star Matt Hooley, former Gopher and 2004 Trials qualifier Eric Hartmark of Hanson's Brooks, Austin-Jarrow's Brandy Erholtz, and Run N Fun's Erin Ward, Angie Voight, and Melissa Gacek.

Michael Reneau and Jenna Boren, who've already punched Trails tickets for 2008 will also compete.

Reneau told DTB today that he and his already-qualified Hudson High School teammate Ryan Meissen are planning to run 5:15 to 5:18 miles (2:18-ish pace) together. They hope to then witness fellow prep teammate Jason Finch of RNF cross the line with his own OT qualifier there as well.

Addition: Some other marathons are offering Trials incentives and support as well.

I'm Getting Dizzy Just Thinking About It!

Those crazy kids from the Band of 10,000 Aches running club are staging the second annual Zoom! Yah! Yah! Indoor Marathon at St. Olaf College in Northfield on Saturday, January 14th. The marathon will be 150 laps on the 282 meter upstairs running track in the Tostrud Field House.

There are various reasons for doing a marathon on a 282 meter track and most of them are covered in this PiPress story by Richard Chin.

The biggest perk is that you get your own member of the St. Olaf College women's track and field team to count your laps and cheer you on. Proceeds from the race benefit the team.

The course record is 3:07:50 by Randy Peterson in last year's inaugural race. The women's course record has not been established. Unfortunately, the IAAF and USATF don't seem to recognize the indoor marathon for record purposes.

A quick Google search located few hits for other indoor marathons. However, some fast times were recorded at the LGA Indoor Marathon in Nuremberg, Germany, on October 30th of last year. Hannes Schmidt won in 2:56, while Elke Streicher ran 3:46 to lead the women.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

USATF Minnesota Meeting - Sunday, 1/14

The regular monthly meeting of the USATF Minnesota board of directors is this Sunday, January 14th, 6:30 PM at the Courage Center in Golden Valley. All USATF members are welcome to attend and participate. Why should you go? The board will be approving the association's 2007 budget. If you want to know how your membership dollars are spent, this is the place to find out.

Rick Recker is back at the helm after his election as association President at the September annual meeting. Chris Kartschoke is serving as Vice President, Chris Dallager as Secretary and Craig Yotter as Treasurer.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

2007 USATF Minnesota Team Circuit Announced

The Long Distance Running Committee of USA Track & Field Minnesota recently announced the events that will make up the 2007 Team Circuit. The Circuit schedule has remained pretty stable in recent years. However, the addition of the Rice Street Mile is a notable departure from the usual events:

2007 USATF Minnesota Team Circuit
March 18 - The Human Race 8 km
April 28 - Get In Gear 10 km
May 12 - New Prague Half Marathon
May 28 - Brian Kraft Memorial 5 km
June 16 - Grandma's Marathon
July 28 - Rice Street Mile
August 12 - MDRA Minnesota 15 km
September 9 - City of Lakes 25 km

Six of the eight events are USATF Minnesota championships, with Grandma's and Rice Street being the only non-championship races.

Oslo to Houston to Oslo: Bersagel Returns to USA to Defend Half Marathon Title

2006 USA Half-Marathon Champions Annie Bersagel of Team USA Minnesota will travel all the way from Oslo, Norway, where she is studying political science as a Fullbright Scholar, to defend her title at the USA Half-Marathon Championships this Sunday at the Aramco Houston Half-Marathon. Bersagel won the 2006 USA Women's Half Marathon Championship in Kansas City last June with a debut mark of 1:14:36. Since then, she has represented the United States in the 2006 IAAF World Road Racing Championships in Hungary and been honored as the NCAA's Woman of the Year for 2006.

In men's competition, Team USA Minnesota's Andrew Carlson, Jason Lehmkuhle and Chris Lundstrom return to the USA Half for further glory as well -- Carlson was fifth in last year's event, Lehmkuhle finished third in the 2005 championship while Lundstrom was 13th in 2005 and 19th in 2006.

Olympic Marathon silver medalist Meb Keflezighi (one of the sport's friendliest people!) headlines the men's field; two-time Olympian Elva Dryer may be toughest to beat for Bersagel and the rest of the women's field.

Other Minnesota folk lining up include Desiree Budd, former MSU-Mankato All-American Marty Rosendahl , and masters ace Kevin Haas.

Welcome to Down The Backstretch

Hello! Welcome to our blog -- Down the Backstretch -- brought to you by Pete Miller and Charlie Mahler. (You may know us as two of the people who put together Minnesota Running & Track for USA Track & Field Minnesota .)

In this independent effort, we hope to offer a great "first stop" for information, results, insights, and comments about what's going on in track and field and running in Minnesota. We intend to keep a close eye on the wide variety of athletics that make up the sport -- from the Olympic hopefuls at Team USA Minnesota and the Big Ten Champions at the University of Minnesota to masters running and age-group track and field. From sprinting to ultras, from throws to jumps we think you'll find something interesting here.

We hope you enjoy Down the Backstretch. Please write us with suggestions, news tips, and ideas, and please feel free to comment on our posts for others to read.