Denfeld News

April 19, 2009
Duluth News Tribune

Polson wins Fitger's 5K

After Friday’s temperatures climbed into the 70s, Duluth native Jeremy Polson felt right at home in the more seasonable 40-degree temperatures that greeted runners at the start of the 20th annual Fitger’s 5K on Saturday.

“Some runners had tights on, but I guess they’re not used to it,” Polson said. “The weather was perfect.”

Polson, 31, responded by turning in a dominating performance, breezing to victory in 15 minutes, 29 seconds — 28 seconds ahead of runner-up Matt Kramer of Cloquet. Amy Lyons of Mounds View, Minn., who, like Polson, runs with St. Paul-based Team Run N Fun, took the women’s title in 17:32, 12 seconds ahead of defending champion Jen Houck of Duluth.

“The course makes a hairpin turn at about the 2-mile mark, and I saw [Houck] wasn’t far behind,” said Lyons, 23. “That helped me run faster.”

Duluth’s Herb Dillon (34:09) and Ely’s Robbie Zbacnik (36:31) won the men’s and women’s walk, respectively.

A record 1,561 people registered and 1,358 finished (1,245 runners, 113 walkers) the event that kicks off the local road race season. That is four times the number of entries from just eight years ago, when 372 took part in the 3.1-mile race through downtown Duluth.

Polson, a 1996 Duluth Denfeld graduate and former University of Minnesota runner, helped bolster the men’s field, which had nine runners break 17 minutes.

Three-time defending champion Mike Benchina wound up eighth in 16:42, more than a minute off Polson’s blistering 4:59 per-mile pace.

Polson took off at the start and never looked back. After crossing the finish line, he quickly returned to the course to cheer on other runners. Polson set the course record of 15:07 in winning the Fitger’s 5K in 2002, the only other time he has raced it.

Polson said the race usually doesn’t fit his training schedule, but this year he used it as a tune-up for next weekend’s 10K state championship in Minneapolis. He felt he had plenty in reserve after Saturday to run the same pace next week.

“I used this as a workout. That was the plan, and it worked out great,” Polson said. “The big goal for me right now is the 10K.”

Lyons also plans on racing the 10K next weekend. While she has battled hamstring issues and was well off her personal best of 16:19, she was still strong enough to hold off Houck. Lyons has raced the event four times, winning in 2005 and 2006 and finishing second in 2004. All proceeds from the Fitger’s 5K benefit the Young Athletes Foundation, a Grandma’s Marathon youth athletics program.

“I’ve always liked this race,” said Lyons, who has never raced Grandma’s. “Maybe when I’m older I’ll get into marathons, but right now, I don’t want to do anything above 15K because I don’t want to ruin myself for the shorter distances. I want to keep my speed.”

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