Close call in 2021 Med City Marathon was one for the record books

The closest finish in the 27-year history of the Med City Marathon occurred in 2021, thanks to an added 385 yards at the end of the course.

Levi Severson of Edina crosses finish line to win the Med City Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Rochester. Severson finished with a time of 2:41:19.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin file photo
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If we’re talking close finishes, last year’s Med City Marathon was one for the record book. Chances are we’re never going to see a closer finish.

A look back.

The marathon is 26 miles and 385 yards — which is a long way — and the eventual winner, Levi Severson of Edina, needed every one of those yards in order to win.

Severson was clocked in 2:41.19, just ahead of Mike Walentiny of Lewiston.

Yes, it was that close, just 15 seconds separating the top two finishers.


Walentiny was leading for most of the race, until Severson passed him with about 385 yards left.

“I really never saw him,” Walentiny said, “and by the time I did, he was past me and no matter what I did, didn’t have enough left.”

Jeremy McJunkin of Rochester finished third but minutes behind in 2:52.21.

Madison Hirsch of Rochester also had a close race in winning the women’s race. She finished in 3:12.18 while Arianna Whitney of Chatfield second in 3:20.21.

Walentiny is one of the early entries for Sunday’s marathon.

The All-Med City Club

This will be the 27th running of the marathon. Six are listed as having run them all, including Allen Holtz, , Nels Pierson, Pete Martin, Tom Perri and Ward Lenius.

Miller, from Albert Lea, has three thirds and a second but has never won. He suffered an injury last November and his status for Sunday is unknown.

Jeff Miller, of Albert Lea,
Albert Lea's Jeff Miller is among a select group of runners who has competed in every Med City Marathon to date.
Post Bulletin file photo


Race history

Pete Gilman is the course record holder, having run a 2:25.4 in 2005. He is a three-time champion and currently serves as boys and girls cross country coach at Rochester Lourdes. Kathy Neises of Madison, S.D., is the women’s record holder, 2:56.30, set in 2002. There been five, sub-three-hour marathons for the women.

Wally and Peg Arnold started the marathon in 1996. With the exception of last year — when the COVID pandemic caused it to be postponed and it was held on Sept. 11 — the marathon has always been held on the Memorial Day weekend.

Going with the wind

Weather forecast? The forecast calls for a temperature of 62 degrees at the start and going up to 78, with a 60 percent chance of rain. Winds are from the south at 5-10 miles per hour, which, if true, means runners will have the wind at their collective backs for at least the first half of the race.

Speaking of weather, it has been all over the board and, in fact, the 2018 race was cancelled because of the excessive heat. At least the marathon was called off; they still ran the half.
In 2006, race organizers closed the race after three hours because of the heat. The following year, the start was moved up an hour to 7 a.m.



Saturday, May 28


11 a.m. — Ronald McDonald House Walk.

2-8 p.m. — TerraLoco Health and Fitness Expo. May Civic Center. Race registration, and packet pickup.

5:30 p.m. — GLK Orthodontics Kids Run.

6:30 p.m. — Altra Federal Credit Union 5 K.

6:30-8:30 p.m. — Finish Line Festival. Mayo Civic Center.

• • • • •

Sunday, May 29

5:20 a.m. — Race shuttles to start line from downtown Rochester.

5:30 a.m. — Orange Theory packet pickup, at start line.

7 a.m. — Med City full marathon, relay, 20-mile and Gillette Pepsi Half Marathon. At Rochester International Events Center.

9 a.m. — Kids Play Zone, at finish line area.

9 a.m. — Finish Line Festival.

10 a.m. — Live music by Loud Mouth Brass, at finish line area.

3 p.m. — Race festivities conclude.

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