Amidst a melting pot of participants that included 40-year-old top male finisher, Mbarak Hussein (2:18:28), 29-year-old top female finisher Nicole Ash (2:40:21), former Viking and current Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page, and runners dressed in superhero costumes, there were numerous runners with distinct ties to St. Olaf college. Several students, including Jenna Barke '06 and Thomas Rusert '06, a few coaches and a handful of alumni joined the crowd to participate in what has been deemed The Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America.
The starting gun went off at 8 a.m. on Sunday outside the Dome. The course wound through the streets of both Minneapolis and St. Paul, concluding at the State Capitol Building in St. Paul.
Sunday's comfortable weather was ideal for the runners, who were treated to a diverse and scenic path of lakes, rivers and trees along the lengthy route.
Rusert, St. Olaf SGA President, ran the marathon for the first time Sunday and said that the scenery affected his decision to run.
"I chose to race in the TCM because I heard it was the most beautiful metro marathon in the country," Rusert said. "I was witness to this claim for four straight hours." Rusert's appreciation of the metro area's picturesque surroundings was just one of the many reasons for Ole participation. A large percentage of runners engaged in the Twin Cities Marathon for reasons beyond simply staying in shape.
Jenna Barke '06, a former St. Olaf cross country and track and field athlete, had extra motivation to run: "My aunt is a marathon-running queen," Barke said. "She has run at least one marathon a year for as long as I've been alive, and she always does the Twin Cities. Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to be a marathon runner like my aunt."
Barke and her aunt and uncle, Sue and Peter Hayes of St. Paul, ran the marathon together. "We ran the marathon completely for fun," Barke said. "We didn't care about what our times were or where we finished."
Also running the race was women's assistant cross country and track and field coach Sarah Deeb Patterson.
"I chose the Twin Cities Marathon because it is a beautiful marathon, Patterson said. I have always wanted to do a marathon as one of my lifes accomplishments."
Despite the beautiful scenery and incredible feeling of completing the marathon, the Oles admitted that the race took a heavy toll on their bodies.
"There is nothing like 26.2 miles of running to make you feel alive and dead at the same moment," Rusert said. "I wasn't sure if I'd finish in under four hours or end up hobbling to the finish line. My quads and hamstrings were knotted up like shoe laces and my right calf muscle felt like it was torn open. My right foot was aching from the constant pounding on the stubborn pavement."
Ruserts experience certainly wasn't pleasant in terms of the physical pain he endured. However, Rusert and his fellow Oles credit the thousands of fans along the side of the trail for spurring them on in moments of weakness.
"I didn't think I could take it any longer until I heard the bagpipes calling "Amazing Grace" and the fans cheering me on to the next aid station," Rusert said.
"It was great to have all the fans out there cheering the whole time," Patterson said.
Barke also appreciated the support offered by the nearly 250,000 spectators present along the course on Sunday.
"The crowd was so kind and supportive," Barke said.
Wearing a shirt that read "JENNA" across the front and "FIRST-TIMER" on the back, Barke received the cheers of numerous fans.
"I got a lot of people yelling my name and yelling, 'Good luck on your first marathon!'" Barke said. "It was was a huge ego boost."
In the end, the St. Olaf marathon runners who made the arduous trek through the cities shared a common goal - - crossing the finish line.
"We just wanted to finish and have fun doing it!" Barke said.
A large number of St. Olaf students, faculty, sfaff and alumni participated in Sunday's 24th annual Twin Cities Marathon. Below are just a few of them, with finishing times in parentheses:
Jenna Barke '06 (4:59.21)
Thomas Rusert '06 (4:06.34)
Nicole Wendt '08 (5:10.59)
Jenna Boren '99 (2:51.23)
Christina Vetter '00 (3:10.57)
Susanna DePaulo '01 (3:30.49)
April Graves '05 (3:37.16)
Jaci Butala '04 (3:39.50)
Megan Daymont Thomas '03 (3:48.58)
Kris Hup '03 (3:51.15)
Sara Daymont '01 (3:52.07)
Karen Larsen Twedt '01 (4:07.16)
Nancy Moe '73 (4:10.17)
Traci Bartz '03 (4:11.53)
Becky Peterson Ruud '04 (4:29.39)
Charlie Ruud '04 (4:29.40)
Anne Jolivette '03 (4:33.40)
Sonja Moe '05 (4:38.51)
Kristy Larson '05 (4:45.38)
Katie Jacobson '05 (4:49.01)
Bryn Geffert (3:26.34)
Dick Daymont (3:42.41)
Kathy Shea (4:03.37)
Sarah Deeb Patterson (4:45.10)