Tiger Trot and Fountain Lake 5: Run!

Published 5:30 pm Saturday, April 17, 2010

Blair Bonnerup was the first person to sign up for the Tiger Trot, a 5-kilometer run that serves as a fundraiser for Southwest Middle School.

On Saturday, he was the first to cross the finish line, too.

“It feels good,” the soft-spoken Albert Lea eighth-grader said.

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Before the race, he seemed eager to go, standing quietly near the front of the pack while other participants chatted. He said he likes running because the athletes focus on a single task — running — rather than many tasks.

“This one is simple. You see the finish line. You see other runners,” he said.

Bonnerup, 14, ran with the varsity cross country team last fall. He said he has been running since fifth grade and said he mother was in cross country in high school.

Eleven-year-old Sam Chalmers was happy to run the Tiger Trot faster than his mother, Jen.

“She thought she was going to beat me, but I beat her,” Sam said happily.

Afterward, he wasn’t going to rest. He was headed to play hockey.

Thirty-five-year-old Brian Lynch of Rochester won the Fountain Lake 5, which is a 5-mile race around the lake. He, Jeff Miller and defending champ Jeshua Erickson vied for the lead. Miller, 45, led for the last two miles.

“I was lucky enough to hang on behind him and pass him at the end,” Lynch said.

Results for the two races will appear on an upcoming Sports page of the Albert Lea Tribune.

The way the routes of the two races work, the Tiger Trot runners, many of whom are children, finish their race at the same place as the Fountain Lake 5 runners and about the same time. Lynch said having children run alongside him as he nears a finish motivates him.

“It was cool to see 9- and 10-year-old sprinting to keep up,” he said.

He attended Luther College with Erickson, so the two have run in the event for three years. Lynch said he likes that the event has races for his sons and for him.

Isaac, 11, ran in the Tiger Trot. Peter, 7, ran in the third event — a half-mile fun run.

Albert Lea resident Lynn Hestness, 54, wanted to get back into running at the urging of two friends, Scott Woitas, 49, and Gene Pacovsky, 64.

“I’ve never run in anything like this in my entire life!” she exclaimed Saturday before the race.

Was she in the Tiger Trot? The half-mile fun run? Neither. Hestness was going for the Fountain Lake 5. She said she used to be able to run around the lake in her 20s.

“Even if I could make it three or four miles, that would be fantastic,” she said.

Woitas, who won his age category last year, predicted he would be on the slow end. He has advice for people wanting to run: “Only run as fast as you feel good.”

The Fountain Lake 5 is a fundraiser for the Family Y. The Tiger Trot is a fundraiser for Southwest Middle School. The two collaborate their events. Southwest Principal Marsha Langseth said the funds go toward the transportation on exploratory trips, such as taking students to go bowling, to play archery or to visit the Family Y. They also help fund a seventh-grade trip to the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and an eighth-grade esteem-building event called Courage Retreat at the United Methodist Church across U.S. Highway 69 from the school.

The Tiger Trot started four years ago, she said, as part of the Albert Lea School District’s health and wellness policy.

She said 260 people were registered this year, and with walk-ups, organizers were hoping to top 300 for the first time. There were about 280 participants last year.

Connor Larson, 12, said participates because he likes to run, this being his second year in the Tiger Trot. He said the longest he has ever run is 10 miles in practice.

Mike Mack, 26, said he knows the Fountain Lake 5 is more competitive, so he ran the Tiger Trot.

“It’s more fun to do well,” he said with a smile.

Fourteen-year-olds Christina Schmidt and Annika Pederson ran in the Tiger Trot for fun, they said. Their goal was the stay together.

“I just like getting out and running with friends,” Schmidt said.

A group of sixth-grade boys was talking in a circle prior to the start of the race. One of them was Owen Stuart, 12.

“My sister was doing it, so I figured I’d do it just to have fun,” he said.

Related story

See last year’s story.

About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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