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Hometown flavor

Record number of entries expected for Sunday's race

By Paul Christian

pchristian@postbulletin.com

The New York City and Chicago Marathons are two of the biggest in the world, each attracting over 30,000 runners.

In comparison, and closer to home, Grandma's Marathon in Duluth and the Twin Cities Marathon have around 8,000 runners.

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Rochester's Med-City Relays and Marathon has a capacity of 1,000 runners, although that number won't be reached Sunday for the seventh annual race.

"We'll get between 425 and 450,'' said Wally Arnold, who has been co-directing the race with his wife Peg since the beginning. "We have enough numbers for 1,000 but maybe that's too many. We're slowly building toward that number but if we get too many, that means more streets have to be opened and we can't take advantage of all our bike paths that we do right now.''

Counting the two relays and the fifth annual Conoco Kids Classic, there will be a record number for Sunday's race.

The four-person relay closed more than a month ago, limiting the field to 100 teams. For the first time the two-person relay is also expected to fill, and that includes 175 teams.

The Conoco Kids Classic is expected to attract nearly 500 students so if you add 'em, that's around 1700 runners. That would be a record.

"We're pleased as punch with the number we get right now,'' said Arnold. "It's workable and that's the main thing. We don't want it to become so big that runners don't feel comfortable.

"We pride ourselves as a hometown marathon and will do anything within reason to make sure the runners are treated properly.''

Arnold said the course will remain the same except for one small detour by County Road 8 and 25. A new bridge is being built and one portion of the bike path is torn up.

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"We'll continue to the intersection instead of catching the bike path at the normal spot,'' said Arnold, "and then we'll loop back and get on the trail. It's not much different and the mileage stays the same.''

In last year's race, around the three-hour mark, a Dakota, Minnesota &; Eastern Railroad train cut through the race course on the tracks just north of Mayo Field. Runners who had circled Silver Lake heading south on the bike path were forced to stop and wait for the delay, estimated at around six minutes.

Peg Arnold, the other race co-director, said she had received assurances from DM&E; that the trains were to stay outside the city limits of Rochester until 12:15 p.m.

Defending men's champion Jerry Wille won't defend his title because of injury but four-time women's winner Kathy Waldron of Green Bay, Wis., is back.

She set a course record a year ago, finishing in 2:57.15.

"I have the Weather Channel on every night,'' said Arnold, "and from what I hear it's really going to be nice.

"In six years we've hit about all the conditions possible, from cold and rain to hot and humid.''

BOX: MED CITY MARATHON - 2001 top finishers

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OVERALL

MALE -- Jerry Wille, Rochester, 2:46.28

FEMALE -- Kathy Waldron, Green Bay, 2:57.15

RELAYS

(One individual name listed)

FOUR-PERSON MALE -- Peter Franta, La Crescent, 2:52.55

FOUR-PERSON FEMALE -- Cheryl Franta, La Crescent, 2:58.35

TWO-PERSON MALE -- Jim Hannon, Rochester, 2:30.23

TWO-PERSON FEMALE -- Allison Ciota, Albert Lea, 3:21.31

FOUR-PERSON CORPORATION -- Brian Purrington, Oronoco, 2:53.09

TWO-PERSON CORPORATION -- Suzanne LePalm, Rochester, 4:02.51

FOUR-PERSON CO-ED -- Katie Zuehlke, Annandale, 2:41.26

TWO-PERSON CO-ED -- Paul Plinske, Holeman, 2:56.09

BOX; Past champions

2001

Jerry Wille ; ; Rochester ; 2:46.28 Kathy Waldron ; Green Bay ; 2:57.15

2000

Bill Field ; Faribault ; 2:33.07

Kathy Waldron ; Green Bay ; 3:02.13

1999

Terry Tupy ; ; St. Paul ; 2:51.09

Kathy Waldron ; Green Bay ; 2:59.28

; 1998

Jerry Wille ; Rochester ; 2:47.50

Kathy Waldron ; Green Bay ; 2:59.58

; 1997

Dan Frusher ; Rochester ; 2:29.40

; Benita Amundson ; Rochester ; 3:07.44

1996

Todd Sperling ; Goodhue ; 2:35.16

Paulette Dow ; St. Paul ; 3:06.42

;

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