A group of 15 local runners kept busy over the weekend, traveling to the annual Eau Claire Marathon on May 4.
Hailing from Waconia, Cologne, Chanhassen, Carver, Victoria, and Deephaven, this group has been training specifically for the Eau Claire Marathon for 20 weeks. Interchangeably known as Team Chan and the Waconia Run Club (WRC), the group has between 30 and 50 runners who have been running together for years and meet every Saturday for long runs and meet twice a week at 5:30 a.m. for speed and hill sessions.
Despite the brutal winter, the WRC members continued to train outside, according to member Kristin Weinzierl.
“We all just bared the elements, dressed appropriately and went outside for the majority of our weekly runs,” she said.
While part of the group stayed back in Minnesota last week to run the Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon, 15 members headed east to Eau Claire.
In Eau Claire, Weinzierl was a marathon champion, winning the women’s marathon and the female age 30-39 division with a time of 3 hours, 9 minutes, and 16 seconds, pacing a 7:14 mile. Her twin sister, Kelli Daly of Deephaven, finished second overall for the women in 03:22:12. Both are 2001 Waconia High School graduates.
“My goal was to be a contender, and I won,” Weinzierl said. “Very happy!”
Weinzierl received $500 in prize money and plans to use it to pay for other upcoming races, including the Waconia Triathlon and Lola’s Lake Waconia Half Marathon.
An avid runner, Weinzierl had run four marathons before but never won. Before Eau Claire last weekend, the last marathon Weinzierl had run was in Boston in 2011.
“I took a break, had a baby and trained hard for two years to get back into it and get stronger,” she said. “I decided to take running/racing a bit more serious and see what I could do with it.”
Weinzierl attributes some of her success at Eau Claire to the “amazing” pacer leading her on bicycle, clearing a way through the half marathon runners. Weinzierl said she was feeling good until she felt “the wall” about mile 20, and said it was a mental game to the finish.
“I saw my husband at this point and he gave me a ton of encouragement,” she said. “I put one foot in front of the other and held on for dear life for the last six miles…the finish felt amazing.”
Next up for Weinzierl is hopefully to run a sub-3 hour marathon.
“With a little more training I am confident it can be done!” she said.
Other members of Team Chan/WRC also fared well at Eau Claire’s events. Michael Schwartz, of Cologne, competed in the men’s full marathon, finishing 13th overall of 167 finishers in 03:10:16. He was tenth in his division, men ages 20-29 and set a pace of 7:16 per mile.
Waconia’s Bob Wolter also ran the full marathon and was in third place, when he took a wrong turn at mile 21 and was disqualified, according to Weinzierl.
Victoria resident Joseph McShane finished the full marathon in 04:30:25, pacing at 10:20 a mile.
Jake Majerus, of Waconia, represented the group in the half marathon, finishing in 02:03:13.
The rest of the Team Chan/WRC members at Eau Claire also finished their respected races, including Dan Blake (Chanhassen), who ran the full marathon in 03:52:34, Julie Currie of Chanhassen (full marathon: 03:43:03), Kelly Handegard of Carver (full marathon in 03:52:35), and Sally Knapp of Carver (half marathon: 02:02:07).
“We are one big family, our camaraderie is amazing,” Weinzierl said.
Contact Melissa Marohl at [email protected]