Young runners are top female finishers

The story of the women's side of things during Saturday's Rochester Half Marathon was youth.

Regina Horak, 22, of St. Paul won the race in 1:22.27 while Elisabeth Driscoll, 24, of Rochester was second in 1:23.01 and  15-year-old Mckenzie Holt of St. Cloud third in 1:25.31.

Horak, who went to high school at Brookfield East in Wisconsin and graduated in May of 2010 from St. Thomas University, didn't start serious running until a few months after college.

That's because she played soccer, and was very good at it.

"Soccer is the reason I went to St. Thomas,'' she said.


She earned all-MIAC honorable mention twice while the Tommies made two trips to the NCAA Division III playoffs.

But that was then and this is now.

"There's not a place for a female soccer player after graduation,'' she said, "and I wanted to do something.  So I started to run.''

She didn't run her first competitive race until October of last year and her only other half marathon was one in New Prague, where she finished in 1:26.

"I was so happy to be able to cut four minutes off that time (on Saturday),'' she said. "It was a beautiful day, great for running.

Horak, a biology major at St. Thomas, said she and Driscoll ran together for a good portion of the race, and was finally able to take the lead with about 1 1/2 miles to go.

Her next half marathon will be in Houston in January.

"The Olympic Marathon Trials are the next day,'' she said, "and several of my teammates from the club I run with (Minnesota Red) so I want to go down there to support them and also to run the same course they will use.


"Who knows, maybe I will run marathons some day.

"I was having dinner Friday night and someone asked me what I was going to do the next day and I said go to Rochester and run a half marathon.

"That's crazy, a couple of years ago running that far was the farthest thing from my mind. At the most, I would run for 20 minutes, and that was only to get in shape for soccer.''

Holt, meanwhile, is by far the youngest runner to ever place here. In fact, she ran the Rochester half two years ago at 13.

"We enjoyed the course and the race then and that's why I came back,'' she said. She finished the 2009 race in 1:34.

Holt goes to St. Cloud Christian and runs both cross country and track, and has advanced to the Class A state meet in both.

"But maybe I'm better suited for the longer distance,'' she said.

Her goal on Saturday was to break 1:26.


"I wanted to do that before I turned 16,'' she said.

That will be Oct. 28.

This year she has completed six half marathons and one marathon — Grandma's — where she broke three hours at 2:58.

• There were 409 half marathon finishers, 224 men and 185 women. There were 130 finishing the 5K, 46 men and 84 women. That race was won by  nearly a minute by Robert Mitchell of Rochester in 16:25. Eric Nelsen, also of Rochester, was second in 17:22.

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