Payne’s gains bring title

Med-City men’s winner shows hard work pays off

By Guy N. Limbeck

Nick Payne received a home-crowd welcome as he raced to the finish line Sunday morning to win the 12th annual Med-City Marathon.

The 37-year-old is a 1989 Stewartville graduate who has lived in Rochester for the past 15 years. He cruised to victory on Sunday in the 26.2-mile race that began in Byron and ended in Rochester. He beat runner-up Brett Evans, the 2006 winner, by more than a mile. Payne had a time of 2:41.15 during the cool morning, while Evans was second in 2:47.45.


"I was hoping for a little better time, but under the conditions (it wasn’t bad)," Payne said, referring to the hills and wind. "But anytime you can win in your own backyard that is (great)."

He said his goal was to finish in 2:37.

"Around mile 18 or 19, I knew that was going to be difficult," Payne said.

Mazeppa’s Tamara Berg-Beniak was the women’s overall winner with a time of 3:14.10, nearly eight minutes ahead of Jennifer Halverson of West St. Paul.

This was Payne’s third Med-City and his fourth marathon overall. He gave credit to Pete Gilman, a two-time winner of the Rochester marathon.

"This year I had the opportunity to train with Pete Gilman, and I thought that went well," Payne said. "Pete has really improved my training."

Payne ran his fastest marathon ever. His previous best had been on a flat course at the Chicago Marathon. His time there was around 2:42. He proved too quick for the rest of the field Sunday.

"On the switch backs I saw (Payne) was quite a bit ahead of me," said Rochester’s Steve Hanke, who placed third. "I knew I wasn’t going to get him."


Hanke, one of nearly 400 runners in the marathon, finished in 2:51.40.

For Payne, it was his first marathon victory and showed his hard works has paid off. He has been training by running at least 65 miles per week, with a peak of 90 miles. He was not a track athlete while in high school, but has steadily increased his workload over the years.

"I actually just picked up running about 15 years ago to get in shape," he said. "And I had some cholesterol issues."

He is now 30 pounds lighter. He credits Rochester friend Ron Giles for helping him begin running longer distances.

"He really got me started in the marathons," Payne said. "We still get together and run."

Payne sees plenty of marathons in his near future. He has already signed up for the Twin Cities Marathon in October and also plans on running in the prestigious Boston Marathon next spring.

"I’d still like to break 2:30, 2:31," Payne said. "It’s something to shoot for."

• More marathon coverage, D4-5

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