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Running: Great grandma sets pace

Joyce Van Heuveln, son Kevin and grandson Klinton each won their respective age group on Saturday at the Pillsbury Push in Kerkhoven. Joyce, 74, did the 5k, while Kevin, 51, and Klinton, 20, each ran the 10k course. Joyce was one of only two women 50-or-over in the 5k. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton.

KERKHOVEN — Joyce Van Heuveln is 74 years old and a regular in recent years on the area 5k circuit.”

“I don’t run for the awards,” she makes clear during an interview following the Pillsbury Push on a cool, sunny Saturday morning at Town and Country Days.

“I just started running (at age 69) because it was something I thought I could do; at least I thought I could walk three miles.”

Of the 55 females finishing the 5k, Joyce was the only one over 60. Thirty-two females ran the 10k, including Wendy Nelsen, 60, of Willmar and Vickie Cyr, 64, of Willmar.

Joyce is joined at many events by son Kevin and his son, Klinton, who both ran the 10k. All three Van Heuvelns compete on the Glacial Lakes Championship circuit. Another grandson, Karter, 14, Klinton’s younger brother, ran Saturday’s 5k.

Kevin started running coming off a broken left leg suffered in a manure pit cave-in on May 3, 2009. He was buried up to his ears and easily might have died but the family skillfully dug him out using backhoes.

He began running, or something like it, on crutches and just kept it up. This was his fourth year at the Pillsbury.

Klinton, one of five brothers who are or have wrestled for the Fighting Saints, won over 160 matches at KMS and had two outstanding seasons at Ridgewater College under Tom Beyer. He has enrolled at Jamestown, N.D., College and will compete in both cross country and wrestling for the Jimmies.

Joyce and Kenneth Van Heuveln raised four children. “We have 20 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren — the oldest is eight,” she said.

Athletically, this is about the first thing she has done in life. “I was a pretty husky girl and we were busy with the children and the business.”

Joyce was in her teens when she married, Kenneth, two years older. Kenneth had a couple of jobs, including a plumber’s assistant, before he starting to install farm tiling. He’s still doing it. Kevin said the business, Van Heuveln Farm Drainage, is going so well he seldom takes a holiday. The boys also work installing the long tubes of plastic tile.

“I hated to run in high school,” said Kevin, who graduated in 1980 and wrestled, at 155 pounds, for Lyndon Nelson. “Now it’s an outlet. I don’t drink, smoke, hunt or smoke.”

At age 51, he has the physique of a middleweight boxer and weighs three pounds less than when he graduated.

Joyce was asked if she follows a training schedule for these races.

“No,” she says. “I don’t run. I mow the grass, with a push mower. I mow the rental property we have in town and then our house outside town. It’s a total of 2½ hours. I mow the rest of the yard with a riding mower.”

And on Saturday, she runs.

Burgett sets 10k record

Ben Burgett, the Willmar Community Christian high school junior from Spicer, posted the best time ever in the 10k Push run. His time of 35:50 is 27 seconds under Austin Hinrichs’ former record of 36:17, set in 2009 when the then 20-year-old from Clara City was running at Bethel University.

Showing excellent mid-summer conditioning for the fall cross country season, high school runners won the other three races, too: Samantha Hanson, 16, the female 10k; her younger sister, Jessa, 14, the female 5k; and Sam Anez, 17, the male 5k. All three run Willmar Cardinals cross country and track.

This was the 13th run at Kerkhoven, originally called the Town and Country 5k. The 10k was added in 2007 and named the event renamed the Pillsbury Push, after the park on the east side where the race is headquartered.

Burgett won the Foot Lake 4 in June, placed second in the Green Lake 12 two weeks later and then won the Lake Ripley 4 on July 13. As soon as the race ended, a friend said the Burgett family set off for Greeley, Colo., for a running camp.

While the course is uncertified, it wasn’t short. One runner said his GPS showed the long run actually was 10.1 kilometers.

Perhaps boosted by the ideal weather, the event attracted a record 188 timed finishers, up 21 from a year ago.    

Pillsbury Push

Result Saturday

At Kerkhoven

106 5k timed finishers

82 10k timed finishers

Complete results

5k top 10 males

Sam Anez, 17, Willmar, 17:56; Ezra Lametot, 19, Sunburg, 19:27; Joshua Bailey, 14, Benson, 19:44; Samuel Rosemeier, 15, Murdock, 20:18; Spencer Almen, 23, New York, N.Y., 20:44; Ron Guetter, 53, Willmar, 21:18; Kris Kolstad, 55, Willmar, 21:21; Harley Anez, 12, Willmar, 21:41; Eric Tollefson, 41, Sunburg, 21:41; Cody Peters, 17, Kerkhoven, 23:24

5k top 10 females

Jessa Hanson, 14, Spicer, 20:45; Leah Tessem, 17, Benson, 21:17; Savannah Anez, 14, Willmar, 21:29; Ashley Just, 15, Kerkhoven, 23:32; Chelsea Voorhees, 24, Benson, 24:17; Kaylee Voorhees, 21, Benson, 24:17; Kierra Finstrom, 13, Bloomington, 25:41; Libby Peters, 14, Kerkhoven, 25:48; Serenity Driscoll, 14, Kerkhoven, 25:48; Kelly Saunders, 17, Benson, 25:56 

10k top 10 males

(1) Ben Burgett, 17, Spicer, 35:50; Jamie Martinez, 32, Willmar, 38:29; Klinton VanHeuveln, 20, Pennock, 38:36; Michael May, 33, Willmar, 40:13; Kevin Van Heuveln, 51, Pennock, 40:24; Mick Quinn, 39, Willmar, 40:26; David Haase, 34, Kerkhoven, 40:30; James Watt, 46, Litchfield, 40:48; Marty Janning, 48, Willmar, 41:22; Mike Sondrol, 33, Willmar, 41:55 

10k top 10 females

Samantha Hanson, 16, Spicer, 42:00; Tracy Sik, 43, Willmar, 42:36; Roxanne Lorenz, 33, Benson, 44:08; Stacie Lienemann, 36, Cottonwood, 46:23; Brenda Peterson, 38, Granite Falls, 48:17; Jen Rauk, 39, Northfield, 48:37; Dawn Lagergren, 42, Litchfield, 50:20; Deb Hoberg, 47, Danube, 50:25; Katie Swenson, 40, Willmar, 51:05; Sheri Bundy, 42, Willmar, 51:15

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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