Katy Jermann was running against more than the 7,491 other finishers of Saturday’s Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon.
With ideal running conditions along the North Shore of Lake Superior, the resident of Burnsville, Minn., had her sights set on a personal record, the $3,000 first-place prize and her husband, Tyler, who was also running the race.
“We normally do a time comparison,” Jermann said of her and her husband of a year. “I think I get a 35-second-a-mile advantage.”
The 27-year-old Jermann checked off all three boxes Saturday, crossing the finish line in Canal Park in 1 hour, 10 minutes and 27 seconds to finish first among the 4,619 women.
Panuel Mkungo repeated as the men’s champion, ending the 13.1-mile race in 1:02:37.
Jermann edged Bethany Sachtleben, 27, of Fairfax, Va., by 16 seconds, while Mkungo outran a pack of five men who all finished within 70 seconds of him. That pack included 26-year-old Tyler Jermann, who was fourth in 1:03:31 — or 1:11:09.5 if you tack on that 35-second advantage Katy gets.
Members of Team USA Minnesota and graduates of Iowa State, the newlywed Jermanns run all the same races together.
Tyler grew up in the Chicago area — Naperville, Ill. — and is currently pursuing a masters degree. Katy is from the “very small farm town” of Fairbank in Northeastern Iowa. She teaches part-time at Level Up Academy in White Bear Lake, is an assistant coach at Minneapolis Washburn High School and works at the TC Running Company.
Katy Jermann is gearing up for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in February. Saturday was her last race until the fall when she’ll run the USA Track and Field 20-kilometer Championship in Connecticut, the TC 10 Mile as part of the Twin Cities Marathon weekend and a yet-to-be-determined marathon.
Back in January, Katy Jermann finished ninth in the Houston Marathon with a personal-best 2:33:41 and in May was fifth in the Pittsburgh Half Marathon with a then personal-best 1:12:11.
After running so well on the “very hilly” course in Pittsburgh, Jermann said she expected to PR on a flatter course Saturday. But beating her previous best by nearly two minutes was more than she could have imagined.
“The whole time there was just so much support on the course," she said. "It's like a hometown race. So many people come up to watch. I think that's what's special about the course that helps push me through is smiling the whole way.”
Mkungo, 25, of Kenya, fell short of his personal-best of 1:01:51 set in March in Nairobi, Kenya, but he was able to top last year’s winning time of 1:02:49 by 12 seconds, and his winning time of 1:03:20 in the Freedom Fest 5000 half marathon in Indiana.
Mkungo said he broke off by himself around the third mile and knew he could win by the eighth mile, but could feel the pack of five runners chasing him the entire time. He finished 29 seconds ahead of second-place Alan Peterson, 27, of Chicago.
“I love this course, it’s a really nice course,” said Mkungo, who is eyeing a jump to Grandma’s Marathon in the future after back-to-back wins in the Bjorklund. “That's why most of the time we want to come to run this course and support this race. I knew I could do something great today.”