The distance of a marathon is 26 miles and 385 yards.

The question has often been asked, why the 385 yards?

According to accounts, in the 1908 London Olympics, the course was laid out from Windsor Castle to White City stadium, a distance of 26 miles.

However, to locate the finish line in front of the royal family’s viewing box, an extra 385 yards were added inside the stadium.

So fast forward to Sunday’s 25th running of the Med-City Marathon. If the race was 26 miles, your winner would be Mike Walentiny of LewIston.

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But it wasn’t. The winner of the race was Levi Severson of Edina. Severson passed Walentiny at the 26-mile mark and won by just .15 of a second.

It was the closest finish in the 25-year history of the race.

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

“There wasn’t much I could do. He just flew past me.”

The marathon finishes behind Mayo Civic Center Arena. The 26-mile mark is on the Third Avenue bridge in front of the arena. From there, the runners take the bike path to the back of the arena.

Anthony Schramm of Minneapolis is cheered on by a volunteer while running a half-marathon during the Med City Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, near Zumbro South Park in Rochester. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
Anthony Schramm of Minneapolis is cheered on by a volunteer while running a half-marathon during the Med City Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, near Zumbro South Park in Rochester. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

That path measures some 385 yards.

“I didn’t know if I could catch him,” Severson said. “I had him in my sight at the 20-mile mark, but he had a pretty good lead, I would say about 40 seconds.

“My goal was not to lose any more ground and to just cut the distance between me and the leader. I knew I couldn’t do it all at once.

“At the 23-mile mark, I felt I had a chance.”

20th time for Severson

Severson, 41, grew up in Plainview, moved to Waseca for high school and then served in the Air Force for eight years. He’s lived in the Twin Cities area for 11 years.

This was Severson’s 20th marathon, but his first Med-City. His parents, Jim and Cindy, live in Rochester, so he used the Med-City as a chance to visit and to run a competitive race.The Seversons have two children.

“I’m happy with my time,” he said. “Except for that hill (West Circle Drive), I enjoyed the course. The fact that it was two laps didn’t bother me at all.”

Walentiny really struggled at the end.

“That hill got me,” he said. “The last five miles were tough. I cramped up and had some stomach problems as well. The end was tough.

“It wasn’t pretty.”

This was Walentiny’s second runner-up finish in the last three weeks in Rochester. He was also second in the Scheels Healthy Human Race.

He plans to run the Twin Cities Marathon in three weeks and his goal remains to run a 2:35 marathon.

Jeremy McJunkin of Rochester finished third in 2:52.21. Other Rochester runners in the top 10 were Alexander Von Bormann, fifth in 2:57.22; Tim Deutsch, eighth in 3:07.40; and Eric Wheeler, 10th in 3:14.22.

• There were 218 marathon finishers, 139 men and 79 women. There were 480 half-marathon finishers, 281 women and 199 women. That race was won by Isaac Boedigheimer (Cloquet) in 1:15.36. Jeffrey Jeltema (Rochester) was second in 1:16.55, while Adam Tuma (Faribault) was third in 1:17.05.

Rosalie Waller (Rochester) was the women’s winner in 1:27.45. Jessica Rollie of Rochester, who won the 2018 marathon, was second in 1:32.01 and McKenzie Buck (Farmington) was third in 1:33.51.

• The 20-mile event drew 47 finishers, 26 women and 21 men.Saturday’s 5K had 194 finishers, 134 women and 60 men. It was won by Antonio Judson (16.50), while Shannon Strickland was the women’s winner in 21.53. Judson is from Pine Island, while Strickland is from Rochester.

For complete results, go to pickleevents.com.