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Docherty nearly breaks Park Point 5-Miler record

Mike Krebs / mkrebs@duluthnews.com Scott Behling of Duluth and Daniel Docherty of St. Paul contend for the lead during the Park Point 5-Miler on Thursday. Docherty won the race, just eight seconds away from a 42-year-old course record, while Behling finished third. 1 / 2
Mike Krebs / mkrebs@duluthnews.com Daniel Docherty of St. Paul crosses the finish line during the Park Point 5-Miler on Thursday at the Park Point Recreation Area in Duluth. Docherty finished first with a time of 24:24. 2 / 2

Northern Minnesota's oldest road race set a record for participants this year with 765 runners and walkers cramming Park Point.

It's 42-year-old record time, however, still stands.

Daniel Docherty, 27, of St. Paul missed out on Steve Hoag's 1975 record by eight seconds, but still had enough to beat a pair of former champions to win the 46th annual Park Point 5-Miler on a calm and cloudy Thursday at Duluth's Park Point with temperatures in the mid-to-low 50s.

McKenzie Holt, 20, of St. Cloud repeated as the women's champion with a time of 31 minutes, 29 seconds — two seconds off her time a year ago.

Docherty, a first-time 5-Miler participant, crossed the finish line in 24:24 for the second-fastest time in the event. The last time anyone came that close to matching Hoag's record of 24:16 was in 2003 when Jeremy Polson ran it in 24:28.

"There was a guy with me at a mile and we went through it at 4:40, which is pretty quick," Docherty said of his competition during the race. "He pushed a little bit after that, but by two miles I was away from him. I was on my own the rest of the way."

The 2015 winner, Scott Nygaard, 26, finished second in 25:15 while defending champion Scott Behling, 27, finished third in 25:50. Both times for the Duluth residents were significant improvements from their winning times the last two years.

But they couldn't match Docherty, who runs at the Team USA Minnesota distance training center in the Twin Cities. He came to the Park Point 5-Miler because the race — like Grandma's Marathon — was included in this year's Minnesota Distance Running Association Grand Prix.

The MDRA, founded in 1961, has been holding its Grand Prix series since 1977 with 13-14 races. This year's schedule, which runs from January through November, includes 13 events varying from a mile to a marathon and everything in between.

Of the eight Grand Prix races held so far, Docherty has taken part in six and topped the Grand Prix field in all six. The 5-Miler was the just the second time he beat the entire race field.

The two races Docherty missed in the Grand Prix, so far, have been a half marathon and Grandma's Marathon. He said 10 kilometers is his sweet spot for running, though he'd like to start increasing his distances.

On Thursday, everything about the 5-Miler was a sweet spot for Docherty from the weather to the course and especially the fan encouragement.

"The crowd along the way was really nice," said Docherty, who ran competitively in college at NCAA Division I Loyola University in Chicago. "They were cheering the whole way. It was nice having people on the way back, you have all the runners who are going out cheering. It was all-around really nice."

WOMEN

Now a Husky, Holt cruises to title

While Docherty topped the rest of the men's field by 69 seconds, Holt dusted the women's field by a whole two minutes. Sarah Quade, 40, of Superior was second in 33:29.

"I felt really good," said Holt, a former student-athlete at Minnesota Duluth who has since transferred to St. Cloud State. "I thought I might have started a little too hard, then I was like, 'Hold on, hold on, hold on,' the whole time. I ended up being able to make it the whole way and not hit a wall."

Holt was a freshman on the Bulldogs' 2014 cross country squad that won a Central Region title and finished third at the NCAA Division II championships. Later that year, she finished sixth in the 10,000 meters at the NSIC Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Holt left UMD midway through her sophomore year because of a kidney disease that was preventing her body from retaining proteins. She later also tested positive for celiac disease, an allergy to gluten.

She's now just running track and field for the Huskies. She said she had a solid indoor season, but then struggled outdoors.

"It felt good," Holt said of returning to college competition. "I continued to have some health struggles, especially toward the end it was a little rough."

Holt ran Grandma's Marathon and the Park Point 5-Miler last summer as her first two races after her diagnosis. She said she ran three other races after that.

This year she is running a much more aggressive summer schedule that again included Grandma's and the 5-Miler. She'll run a 10K in River Falls, Wis., on Saturday and then the Torchlight 5K in Minneapolis next week.

She hopes to get in a half marathon yet before taking the fall off. She'll run indoor and outdoor track at St. Cloud State.

"I enjoy track more because I'm not much of a grass runner," said Holt, who is three semesters away from a business degree. "In college, I enjoy track more because of the longer distances. I get to do the 10K while cross country is 6K."

PARK POINT 5-MILER

Thursday's Results

Men

1. Daniel Docherty, St. Paul, 24:24; 2. Nick Nygaard, Duluth, 25:15; 3. Scott Behling, Duluth, 25:50; 4. Blake Anderson, Sartell, Minn., 25:57; 5. Jackson Lindquist, Carlton, 26:14; 6. Chris Caron, Ham Lake, Minn., 26:20; 7. Evan Walpole, Superior, 26:41; 8. Mike Ward, Duluth, 26:48; 9. Addison Stansbury, Stillwater, Minn., 27:09; 10. Ethan Olson, Sturgeon Lake, 27:12.

Women

1. McKenzie Holt, St. Cloud, Minn., 31:29; 2. Sarah Quade, Superior, 33:29; 3. Debra Gormley, Plymouth, Minn., 33:53; 4. Lacie Farmer, Superior, 34:47; 5. Alena Toft, Duluth, 34:50; 6. Aurora Kothe, Duluth, 34:55; 7. Nordica Stocker, St. Paul, 35:00; 8. Julie Virkus, St. Louis Park, Minn., 35:03; 9. Sharon Stubler, Minnetonka, Minn., 25:20; 10. Allison Hanig-Landrus, Duluth, 35:25.

2-Mile Walk

Men

1. John Stark, Duluth, 22:20; 2. Herb Dillon, Duluth, 22:23; 3. Francis Held, Duluth, 35:49.

Women

1. Sheila Rukavina, Duluth, 24:26; 2. Debbie Miller, Duluth, 24:56; 3. Tina Farrell, Hermantown, 24:57.

Matt Wellens

College hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune covering the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs men's and women's teams, as well as the NCAA Division III programs at St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior.

(218) 723-5317
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