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Tribune photo by Rand Middleton Starting at the head of the pack where they would finish are Kadie Hokanson (red head band), Mike Heinen (shirtless on March 17) and Kyle Eckhoff at the first St. Patrick's Day Red Beard 7k run. The start was on Kandiyohi County Road 24 paralleling hole No. 1 at the Eagle Creek Golf Club which had opened a day earlier.

Running: Heinen wins inaugural Red Beard road race

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sports Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

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 annual St. Patrick's Day Red Beard 7k (4.23 mile) run held on the city's north flank.

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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, plus a few males with red beards.

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 (28:22, 8th overall).

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 also in the next race in the Glacial Ridge Championship Series, the Minnewaska Half-Marathon at Glenwood on May 5.

Heinen, a project manager for Marcus Construction, is aiming at the 12-mile Tough Mudder, an obstacle race, in Wisconsin on May 19.

Kyle Eckhoff, 25, of Willmar was the early leader but couldn't match Heinen's steady pace (5:49 per mile) and finished second in 25:57. Eckhoff also took the silver medal in the series opener at Spicer on Feb. 4.

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 buffet breakfast in the Oaks 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.

Of the 192 official finishers, 110 were female.

Full results are at Pickleevents.com.

TOP 10 MALE: (1) Mike Heinen, Willmar, 25:15 (2) Kyle Eckhoff, Willmar, 25:57 (3) Klint Van Heuveln, Pennock, 27:22 (4) Hugo Hernandez, Murdock, 28:06 (5) Eric Lewis, Spicer, 28:11 (6) Jamie Haugen, Bird Island, 28:15 (7) Steven Lueders, Kandiyohi, 28:19 (8) Kevin Van Heuveln, Pennock, 28:33 (9) Nathan Hoberg, Danube, 28:43 (10) Jay Grandprey, Windom, 28;45

TOP 10 FEMALE: (1) Kadie Hokanson, Alexandria, 28:22 (2) Tracy Sik, Willmar, 29:59 (3) Beth VanGulijk, New London, 31:32 (4) Alaina Burgess, White Bear Lake, 31:46 (5) Jolene Hebrink, Clara City, 31:50 (6) Kristen Woelfel, Belgrade, 32:06 (7) Jen Rauk, Northfield, 32:23 (8) Polly Ahrens, Renville, 33:14 (9) Alisa Johnson, Pennock, 33:18 (10) Sara Sand, Spicer, 33:26

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