July 18, 2009
Five straight wins and a course record
in Park Point Five-Miler
By Kevin Pates
Streaking Jeremy Polson won for the fifth time
in five tries Friday night at the 38th Park Point Five-Miler road
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].”
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,’ ’’
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.”
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.