1st Red Beard 7k run draws 200
WILLMAR -- It was not a typical mid-March morning in Minnesota nor were the nearly 200 runners in ordinary gear.
The event was the 1st Red Beard 7k (4.23 mile) run held on the city's north flank.
The mercury already was pushing 60 degrees at the 9 a.m. start under a bright sky.
The St. Patrick's Day decorations included socks, shorts, tops and hats in Irish green.
The start/finish was at the Oaks restaurant at Eagle Creek Golf Club.
The winning times were turned in by Mike Heinen, 28, of Willmar (25:15) and Kadie Hokanson, 31, of Alexandria. Heinen is a marathoner who ran a 2:46.59 in California already this year. Hokanson is a former standout for the Alexandria Cardinals cross-country team, coach by her father Mark Nelson. She plans to run the next race in the Glacial Ridge Championship Series, the Minnewaska Half-Marathon at Glenwood on May 5.
Kyle Eckhoff, 25, of Willmar was the early leader and finished second in 25:57. Klint VanHeuveln, 19, a Ridgewater College wrestler from Pennock was third and Hugo Hernandez, 30, of Murdock fourth.
Tracy Sik of Willmar was the second woman followed by Beth Van Gulijk of New London-Spicer, Alaina (Eckhoff) Burgess of White Bear Lake and Jolene Hebrink of Clara City.
The course has more climbs than any of the short races in the Glacial Lakes Series. After starting on county roads the course makes a loop through the Eagles Landing neighborhood, north of the front nine, and then back to the clubhouse parking lot and a finish just 100-feet from the No. 18 green.
Participants were rewarded with a free buffet breakfast as well as a St. Patrick's Day green running jersey. Age group awards were handed out in the post-race ceremony at the Oaks.
Photographer Fernando Alvarado was reported by a family member to be recovering at home Saturday afternoon after an incident as the race was concluding. The Willmar man was taking photos near the finish when he complained of a severe headache, which felled him to the curb where he was attended by police and an EMT, who had run in the race, until an ambulance reached the scene.