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New and familiar faces take titles in Park Point 5-Miler

Alec Olson needed less than a year to find out how much running meant to the Boston community. As a freshman at Boston University, the 19-year-old native of Excelsior, Minn., stood at the 25-mile marker of the Boston Marathon last April cheering ...

Katie McGee
Katie McGee of Duluth won the women's title at the Park Point 5-Miler on Friday, July 19, 2013. (Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com)

Alec Olson needed less than a year to find out how much running meant to the Boston community.

As a freshman at Boston University, the 19-year-old native of Excelsior, Minn., stood at the 25-mile marker of the Boston Marathon last April cheering on competitors.

He and a friend left around the 3-hour mark, not realizing a pair of deadly bombs went off at the finish line until they had returned to their dorm rooms.

"It was shocking and I couldn't believe it had happened," said Olson, winner of the 42nd Park Point 5-Miler on Friday. "It didn't sink in that much until they closed down the campus on lockdown when they were trying to find (the Tsarnaev brothers). It was hard to focus at school that week."

Since then, the Chanhassen (Minn.) High School graduate has seen Bostonians rally around runners.

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"BostonStrong is a huge thing out there right now," he said. "If they see you running, they will cheer you on or say, 'Good job.'"

Olson did a good job on Park Point, winning the race in his first attempt in 25 minutes, 47 seconds. After running with two others, Olson and three-time champion Eric Hartmark pulled away from the field of 190 men. Olson then distanced himself from Duluth's Hartmark, who won the race in 2007, 2010 and 2011. Hartmark was second in 26:08, while Duluthians Scott Behling and Adam Swank were third and fourth, respectively.

"I took off at about the halfway point, or maybe closer to three miles," said Olson, who runs cross country in the fall and track in the winter and spring at Boston U. "I wasn't trying to go super hard because I don't want to get burned up before the (fall) season."

Olson specialized in the 800, 1,500 and 3,200 in high school and now is a steeplechase runner in college. He recently earned an athletic scholarship and, though undecided on his major, is taking pre-med classes.

Olson said he chose to run at Park Point because he and three running friends are headed to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

WOMEN

McGee captures sixth title

Katie McGee first enjoyed victory at Park Point as a 21-year-old in 1994.

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She accomplished the feat for a record sixth time 19 years later, winning the 5-Miler by more than a minute in 32:08.

Though now 40 and officially a masters runner, the Duluthian still believes she can run with that younger McGee -- if healthy. A left hamstring injury has impaired her running for at least a year, McGee said.

"I don't think you have to slow down when you turn 40," she said. "I'm still planning on running some of my best times when I get healthy."

McGee, a longtime teacher at Hibbing Community College, dropped out of last month's Grandma's Marathon at the 25-mile mark after slowing her pace nearly 10 miles earlier.

"In the last year, it's gotten to be debilitating to my training," she said of the injury. "I have to rest and not run anything fast. I'm receiving treatment for it, so it's just a matter of giving it some time. When I turned 40, I just wanted to race like crazy. I just wasn't healed up and I prolonged (the injury)."

McGee, who also won in 1995, 2000, 2004 and last year, hopes to be fully healed by Grandma's next year. Her long-range goal is to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials for a fourth time.

Kelsi Upmann and Emily Matack -- both of Duluth -- were second and third in 33:52 and 34:10, respectively.

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Related Topics: PARK POINT
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