Jacobsen to run Twin Cities Marathon
Van Jacobsen has completed several endurance races before, from a distance ranging from 50 to 100 miles.
But all of them have come while riding on a horse. He is endorsed by the American Endurance Ride Conference, which sponsors these types of races.
Sunday he will attempt another endurance test, but this time with no horse; it will be on foot. The 58-year-old Jacobsen will be at the starting line for the 34th annual Twin Cities Marathon, which is his first running venture at 26.2 miles.
"If you had told me a few years ago that I would be running a marathon, I would have said absolutely not," he said. "But here I am.''
It's not that easy, of course. Jacobsen had never pretended to be a runner — "I'm not one of those tall and skinny runners, I weight 180 pounds on a 5-10 body '' — but a few years ago he tried a few 5Ks (3.1 miles).
"I was hoping to keep some weight off,'' he said.
Those 5Ks soon blossomed into a 10K and in 2012 his son, Evan, suggested they run the Med-City Marathon half-marathon together.
Turned out to be a good experience.
This year daughter, Natalie, wanted to join in on the fun so they all entered the Med-City half.
"Evan then talked about running a full marathon,'' Jacobsen said, "and he said why don't we both do the Twin Cities Marathon.''
At first Jacobsen thought his son was crazy.
"It was a real accomplishment for me to finish a half-marathon,'' Jacobsen said. "I also didn't know how any one could put two of those halves together into a full marathon.''
"I thought why not? At least I was in good enough shape to complete a half marathon, so I had that going for me.''
Takes training seriously
Jacobsen has been training like crazy, religiously following a marathon training regimen.
"I'm on the road a lot with work,'' he said, "so it hasn't been easy but it's important to get in one long run a week and I have been doing that.
"I doubt that I would ever run 22 miles on a Saturday had I not been training to run a marathon.''
Jacobson graduated from Olivia (Minn.) High School, and attended both the University of Minnesota and the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul. Ironically, he will run past the William Mitchell school on one of the final legs of the Twin Cities Marathon, which goes up Summit Avenue.
He moved to Rochester in 1982 and has worked for the same firm — now Bird, Jacobsen & Stevens — since.
Jacobsen enjoys running but he truly loves horses. His love came early, in elementary school.
And after law school, he started to race horses for endurance, and now has over 2,600 miles (races of either 50 or 100 miles) to his credit.
One of the most challenging has been the Tevis Cup Endurance, an 100-mile race said to be the most arduous in the world. It starts in Lake Tahoe and finishes in Auburn, Calif., and much of the trail is unforgiving, accessible only on foot, horseback or by helicopter.
In part, the website says "the mountains, although beautiful, are relentless in their challenge and unforgiving to the ill-prepared.''
In fact, more than half of the starters don't finish, but Jacobsen did, in 22 hours, 50 minutes, or 73rd overall, out of 250 who started the race.
Also shows, judges horses
When not racing endurance, Jacobsen, who lives on a ranch outside of Pine Island, also shows and judges horses. At the end of the month, in fact, he will judge a competition in South Africa for the second straight year. He's also judged in Australia, Canada and throughout the United States.
Now, riding a horse for 100 miles and close to 24 hours along some of the most rugged terrain out there is not easy, but then again, running a marathon is not easy, either.
On top of that, Jacobsen has been battling a sore hip which he developed the last few days.
Still, "I'll line up on Sunday, and plan to finish,'' he said. "At this point, that's all I can do. I'm confident that I can finish, but that's a lot of miles between the start and finish.''
And when he does finish?
"I'll be able to cross completing a marathon off my bucket list,'' he said. "I'm always up for a good challenge and this is a challenge, that's for sure.''