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A Cardinal Day: MDRA’s Ron Daws 25K

Perched above the course, confidently viewing the racing below. Photo Wayne Kryduba

Perched above the course, confidently viewing the racing below. Photo Wayne Kryduba

A spring blizzard pounded the Twin Cities Friday with northern suburbs counting a new foot of accumulation, putting the Saturday race conditions in doubt. Yet, snow stopped like on a clock, the sun bursting bright. Saturday, April 5, dawned clear, cool and charming. A showy Cardinal monitored the start and signaled an okay in the more southerly, less snowy Hopkins, all captured in an image by MDRA photographer Wayne Kryduba.

Brian Davenport all by himself at the finish line. Photo by Wayne Kryduba

Brian Davenport all by himself at the finish line. Photo by Wayne Kryduba

Brian Davenport paced all 164 finishers, conquering the 25 km finish in 1:34:25. As the only 25 km certified road race in the state, the option for this distance is now limited to the Ron Daws race. The Jeff Winter City of Lakes adopted a half-marathon distance from its historic 25 km to tackle the high costs of the race’s Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun locations. “I’m training for Boston,” he told me, leaving nothing to chance as that historic finish line is now his Facebook cover photo. Asking if he was cold after finishing just standing there talking with me, he kindly shrugged that off. “The people who are back in the pack are the ones who really have to work since they’re out there much longer.” He noted the fourth time up the curve-to-the-left Dominick Drive hill, just leaving Shady Oak Lake, got long-in-the-tooth by the end of the race.

From the start down the frontage road from the Cross of Glory Church–just a few hundred yards into the race–the pack split into two arms, merging together on the curving sidewalk to Shady Oak Road.

That's Brian Davenport leading the left wing while Melissa Gacek paces the right. Photo by Wayne Kryduba

That’s Brian Davenport leading the left-wing while Melissa Gacek paces the right. Photo by Wayne Kryduba

Leading the high road, Melissa Gacek captured another win for the women’s class, an eighth overall. The stellar athlete admitted to first wanting to stop. “I just wanted to quit,” but an observation picked up her pace and spirits. “I realized I wasn’t picking up my feet on hills,” thinking maybe that habit developed from a winter’s training on a treadmill. “I just got back from Las Vegas where I ran the 8 km Celebrate Education race.” Though suffering an ailment, Gacek won there in 30:26, good enough for sixth overall.

Melissa Gacek with her trademark smile winning the class. Photo by Wayne Kruduba

Melissa Gacek with her trademark smile winning the class. Photo by Wayne Kryduba

Joanna Masloski cornered second, her first time at this race. She noted “the great training hills,” then heard the big one is quietly recognized as Puke’s Peak. Anja Standly completed the women’s podium with the bronze finish.

Tying for second in the men’s class at 1:37:51, affable training partners Gregg Robertson and David Hyopponen were up at 4:30 for the drive from their Duluth home base. Hyopponen is training for June’s Grandmas Marathon while Robertson has Boston in his sights.

Others in the finisher’s list include USSSA National Championship Race snowshoer Rob Class in the 12 spot while recovering from a tendon challenge. “The snow doesn’t hurt as much.” John Storkamp, a regular competitor here, took time off from his race director duties for the Zumbro 100-mile endurance race next weekend April 11 recording a nice 1:44. Steve and Molly Young finished together at 2:07, while Diana and Grace Hogan came in at 2:18. Megan Cahill nabbed the last women’s finisher slot.

Stephanie Johnson-Hoff blazing brightly the Ron Daws road course. Photo by Wayne Kryduba

Stephanie Johnson-Hoff blazing brightly the Ron Daws road course. Photo by Wayne Kryduba

A different Phil, 73-year-old Phil Erickson, took the honors as this year’s final finisher. If you wonder what that is about, revisit the 2013 finisher’s list.

Norm Champ with behind-the-scenes help from Heidi Keller Miler staged a grand race with their volunteer crew.

“It was a great day to hammer some hills and enjoy a longer early morning run-race. Some parts of the course were a bit of a challenge due to the Friday snow, but in the spirit of a hard Ron Daws’ type of training run, no one let that bother them.” The course description “tough hilly course provides a great training experience for those running Boston or other spring marathons” held true in 2014.

Truly classic photos are always a trademark of Wayne Kryduba; having access to his work is a privilege of writing.

David Hyopponen (L) and Gregg Robertson talk with me while Davenport walked behind, the only time he was in that position all day. Photo by Wayne Kryduba

David Hyopponen (L) and Gregg Robertson talk with me while Davenport walked behind, the only time he was in that place all day. Photo by Wayne Kryduba

The Ron Daws 25K is not only a throwback race, The Ron Daws 25K is a bargain. As the entry info indicates, the cash register only tallies $1 per 5k. Additionally, Great Harvest cookies come with your finish; a few of those are worth more than the five bucks entry. 2015’s race will be Saturday, April 4. Enter it on your calendar now; it rates as a Cardinal rule.

Connect: Phillip@ultrasuperior.com

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