Half-marathon victor surprises rest of field

A guy in baggy racing shorts sped past an amazed lead pack with less than a mile to go Saturday morning and held on for an upset victory in the seventh NorthShore Inline Half-Marathon.

A guy in baggy racing shorts sped past an amazed lead pack with less than a mile to go Saturday morning and held on for an upset victory in the seventh NorthShore Inline Half-Marathon.

Former Minnesota Duluth pole vaulter Tim Johnson, 23, of Bloomington, Minn., edged Philip Luckai, 16, of Thunder Bay, Ontario, at the finish alongside the William A. Irvin ore boat. Both were timed in 43 minutes, 52 seconds. Three others were a second behind.

"I wanted to be competitive and get in the top 10," said Johnson, a 2009 UMD graduate now working as a chemist for International Chemtex in Lakeville, Minn. "I started back in the pack and worked my way up, and after going downhill at the Fifth Avenue West exit ramp, that gave me enough glide to take the lead."

The 6-foot-4 Johnson, who had a pole vault best of 14 feet, 2¼ inches, was wearing no technical clothing -- just a long sleeve shirt and long gym shorts. It was his second inline race of 2010 and first career victory. He was in the NorthShore Inline Marathon in 2009.

"This is such a wonderful race; it's sad it goes so quickly," Johnson said.


Tammy Colbeth, 28, of Chanhassen, Minn., led the women's field in 52:59. Hans Anderson, 56, of Proctor was the top finisher from the area, ninth in 46:56.

There were 271 half-marathon finishers.

Diamond ground concrete

NorthShore Inline Marathon executive director Rick Abrahamson and Minnesota Department of Transportation project manager Todd Campbell of Superior skated in Saturday's marathon and experienced new roadway on various parts of the course, including a one-mile stretch of Interstate 35 from 26th Avenue East to Leif Erikson Park. The diamond-ground concrete there has diagonal grooves, which had a slowing effect on skaters.

The grooves are to improve driving traction, reduce traffic noise and provide better water dispersal.

"The road was safe, but it was strange and slow today. Over time the surface will smooth out," said Campbell, who finished in 1:27:03.

Abrahamson, 47, in his first year as executive director, was busy on race day, waking up at 2:15 a.m. and helping to set up the staging areas for the two races. He also had to deal with a pre-race situation as a Canadian National train crashed into an abandoned vehicle in Two Harbors, near the marathon start.

Abrahamson was the second-fastest marathoner from the area, finishing in 1:25:17, behind Geoff Ash, 17, of Duluth in 1:19:49.6. Kirk Vesterstein, 49, of Duluth finished in 1:25:22.3.


Medical tent update

Despite a rainy morning, the finish line medical tent had a typical number of patients, according to race medical director Wade Lillegard, a sports medicine physician with St. Mary's Duluth Clinic.

"When there's rain, people tend to slow down and take it easy," Lillegard said. "Our numbers are almost as expected."

Seventy skaters were treated through 10:30 a.m., primarily for abrasions, while two were transported to hospitals in the area because of a concussion and a thumb injury.

Profiled finishers

A few multi-time finishers in the NorthShore Inline Marathon were profiled in Friday's News Tribune.

Those who have been in all 15 races were -- Jeff Terwilliger, 50, of Edina, Minn., third in the veteran men in 1:17:49.5; and Greta Crowe, 68, of Grand Rapids, fifth among women 65-69 in 2:34:01.6. Duluth native Ted Waldo, 77, of Rochester, Minn., finished a 14th straight race, placing third among men 75-79 in 2:17:48.9. He was joined in the race by his five children and a son-in-law.

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