Oktoberfest Marathon beats the heat

Duncan MacLean • Sep 24, 2017 at 11:35 PM

SPRING LAKE — Uncharacteristic September heat threatened to derail the Mercy Health Oktoberfest Marathon on Saturday, but a resilient group of athletes stuck it out and beat the heat in Spring Lake.

The race went off without a hitch, as 371 runners took on three race courses; a 5k, half-marathon and full marathon, with no major incidents. Despite temperatures upwards of 90 degrees, the race saw increased participation.

“We didn’t have any heat related incidents,” race organizer Ron Knoll said. “And, we had 30 more registered runners this year.”

Competitors ranged from local to far-flung. The men and women’s full marathon champions both were enjoying the Lakeshore on visits for the race.

Peter Hensoldt took home top honors in the men’s marathon, clocking in at 3 hours, 16 minutes and 13 seconds. The 26-year-old ran the race with his roommate, Sean Clifford, who came in just three minutes behind his longtime friend.

The pair picked a tougher than usual New Year’s resolution, agreeing to train for the marathon as they rung in 2017.

“My roommate and I have been training together. It was New Year’s Eve this year and we just kind of had the idea, he asked me, ‘Hey, you wanna run a marathon?’ and I said, ‘Sure.’” Hensoldt said of the inception of their challenge. “We had a 16-week training program, it feels great to be done.”

Now that the journey is complete, Hensoldt isn’t sure if his first full marathon will have been his last, coming in short of the Boston and New York marathon qualifying times, another crack at the standard seemed far-fetched after their first steamy go.

“My roommate and I, we are thinking about now getting into some bigger marathons, maybe making this an annual thing, but right now, the answer is no,” he said after the race. “In two weeks, we are going to revisit it and see how we feel.

“We didn’t go fast enough to qualify this time, you have to run a 3:05. I thought I would be closer, so we might do another one in the spring and see how that goes, but I don’t know. It is fun in the moment and fun to finally be done, but when you are actually out there you question yourself so many times.”

Celebration of the victory for Hensoldt, Clifford and their fans took advantage of the heat that made the 26.1-mile race harder than usual.

“It felt like we were running in a sauna, we were hoping it would be cloudy but no such luck. ” he said. “We are from the east side of the state, so now we get to go the beach at Grand Haven and celebrate.

Thirty three-year-old Erin Reedy paced the women’s marathon field, coming in first in 3:53:51, ahead of Heather Dyke at 4:28:35 and Nicolette Baumgartner at 4:29:46.

Reedy, hailing from Diamondale, is no stranger to the marathon distance with multiple races under her belt. The heat, however, was a new experience.

“Awful, absolutely awful,” she said of the 90-degree finishing temperatures. “I just wanted to be done. It is pretty hard to believe I won, it is so hot.

“I didn’t expect to go this fast in the heat, but it wasn’t my fastest. I wasn’t thinking about winning at all, just finishing

A few unique characteristics about the Spring Lake based race attracted Reedy, who said she enjoys smaller races in pretty places.

“Well, it was supposed to be a cooler one because it is at the end of September,” she joked. “It is a smaller race, which I like, I don’t like big races, they intimidate me. It was a little lonely but a beautiful course.”

The female champion has been doing competitive distance running for two years, competing in three full marathons over that time.

“My sister-in-law does triathlons. One day she asked me to do a half (marathon) with her,” she said. “That was my first race, and I was hooked. I train solo during the weeks and have a weekend training group.”

This year’s race also featured half marathon and 5k races. In the men’s half, Scott Mckeel took a familiar place atop the leaderboard, coming in at 1:17:41. Nick Liversedge followed at 1:20:34 to finish second, ahead of Christopher Gregory in third at 1:23:37.

Courtney Roberts led the way for the female half marathon, clocking in at 1:37:15, narrowly beating out Sarah Zimmerman at 1:38:52. Valerie Petre rounded out the overall podium in third at 1:42:54.

The men’s 5k leaderboard brought the average medalist age down as 30-year-old Joel Wood took home top honors in 15:43 and 44-year old Eddie Ruffing took second in 18:41, edging 13-year-old Ian Hill by just 10 seconds.

Jill Angulian paced the female 5k field, coming in at 23:53 to claim her gold medal. Alexis Pierce followed at 24:49, ahead of Shelley Irwin in third place, coming in at 24:59.

Proceeds from the event go to the mission of the Faith Marie Losee Foundation, a component of the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation.

Faith Marie Losee, infant daughter of Todd and Diane Losee, was stillborn in 2006, due to an umbilical cord complication. Since her passing, Todd and Diane wanted to see that Faith Marie would still make a difference in the world.

The foundation provides medical equipment and supplies to neo-natal hospital units and emergency care providers.

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