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Five straight wins and a course record in Park Point Five-Miler

Streaking Jeremy Polson won for the fifth time in five tries Friday night at the 38th Park Point Five-Miler road race. Record-setting Jen Houck broke the women's course mark in gaining a second straight victory. The two Duluthians were the star a...

Jen Houck
Houck narrowly missed qualifying for the 2012 U.S. Track and Field Olympic Marathon A-standard by two seconds. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

Streaking Jeremy Polson won for the fifth time in five tries Friday night at the 38th Park Point Five-Miler road race.

Record-setting Jen Houck broke the women's course mark in gaining a second straight victory.

The two Duluthians were the star attractions on an overcast 64-degree night, nearly ideal for running.

Polson, 31, led probably the fastest 1-2-3 finish in race history in 24 minutes, 42 seconds followed by former champion Eric Hartmark, 31, of Duluth in 25:00 and Chris Lundstrom, 33, of Minneapolis in 25:06 in his Park Point debut.

"This is my best racing year so far, and I've run some of my best times," said Polson, an AlBrook High School social studies teacher and track and cross country coach. "If there hadn't been a headwind for the first half [Friday], one of us might've been able to break the course record [24:16 by Steve Hoag in 1975]."

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In 2009, Polson has tied his five-kilometer road best (14:43), while breaking bests at 25K (1:19:51) and 10K (30:20). He previously won Park Point in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2008, and now has run under 25 minutes three times on the course. He had high-powered company Friday as Lundstrom, the top Minnesota resident in the 2009 Grandma's Marathon a month ago, pushed, along with Hartmark.

They went through the first mile in 4:56, the second in 5:07 and the third in 5:08. Then Polson surged and kept throwing in surges until he was alone.

"This is the best competition I've seen here and I just wanted to hold on for as long as I could," Hartmark said. "I was surprised I had as much as I did because I really hadn't done any workouts since the marathon."

Polson was 12th in a warm Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon in 1:09:17 on June 20, while Lundstrom ran 2:24:11 and Hartmark 2:32:21 in Grandma's Marathon. Lundstrom was at his cabin in Floodwood this week and decided to give Park Point a try.

"I wanted to run something and get back on my feet after the marathon. When I saw how cool the temperatures were today, I said, 'I've got to do it,' '' Lundstrom said.

Houck, 25, and her coach, St. Scholastica Nordic ski coach Chad Salmela, projected a women's winning time of 28:30, which was dead on. Houck ran 41 seconds faster than 2008 and broke Kari Robertson's 1997 course record of 28:36. Serena Sullivan, 28, of Hibbing was second in 30:20.

The former St. Scholastica runner also was back in action following the Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon, where she finished 11th in 1:22:08, but wasn't thrilled with her time.

"Ultimately, I don't know what my best distance is yet, but I do like longer races," said Houck, a physical therapist at Villa Maria Health Care Center in Superior. "I'll run a 10-miler next week, and then my first serious marathon in October at Twin Cities."

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Houck had previously won the Fitger's 5K in April and the Brian Kraft Memorial 5K in May in Minneapolis.

There were 466 entrants in the Park Point Five-Miler and 54 in the accompanying two-mile walk, won by Rodger Brannan, 57, in 21:30 and Jill Bianchet, 52, in 23:13. Both are from Duluth.

Proceeds from the races benefit the Young Athletes Foundation, a Grandma's Marathon program focused on the promotion and development of youth athletics.

Jeremy Polson
Jeremy Polson of Duluth crosses the finish line of the Park Point Five Miler on Friday evening. Polson is holding up five fingers representing the five wins he has accumulated, one for each time he has entered the race. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

Related Topics: PARK POINT
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