Up North: Malenius Endures Storm, Terrain Change to Win Virtual Last Runner Standing

Alicia Tipcke
Updated: June 10, 2020 10:41 PM

At 10 a.m. Saturday morning Hermantown's Josh Malenius took off for a run, but it wasn't for a typical jog. He was competing in the Last Runner Standing endurance competition. 

"Initially, for the first I would say 50 miles, I felt really good. I mean it was a much slower pace than I was typically used to training," said Josh Malenius on participating in his first Last Runner Standing race.

The third annual event was anything but typical. Usually held at Spirit Mountain's Grand Avenue Chalet, organizers revamped it for the virtual world. The new platform allowed around 180 runners from across the world to join the race.

"We have runners from Norway, Great Britain, Australia, [and] Singapore, so it's pretty fun. We have a Zoom meeting setup. We have 80 people on it right now and we're able to watch everybody running it from wherever they are," said race director Andy Holak while running Saturday's race.

Finding a loop in Fredenberg, Malenius logged into the Zoom and ran 4.17 miles every hour on the hour. He continued for 29 hours and around 121 miles, learning on his final lap he was the last runner standing.

"When I was coming in I saw everyone. All my in-laws, all my family that was at the at the hangout, they were all out in the field so I kind of figured something was going on," said Malenius on winning the race.

The meals of the champion included peanut butter sandwiches, coffee, almonds, and even chicken casserole. It kept him going strong for 50 miles, but around the 75 mile mark Malenius said he started to feel pain and bruising on his feet. That didn't stop him, but late night storms almost did.

"I was going to quit actually. I was going to quit because of safety, but where I was running they had a treadmill and I remember that the rules said you could switch to a treadmill if you needed to. So I went in and ran four races on the treadmill."

Malenius added, "if the storm didn't clear I don't know if I would have kept running. It was a tough transition into the treadmill but when I got off and back onto the trail, it seemed so much easier."

In-person or online, the race draws people back in. Malenius plans to also run the postponed event in November, while the 2019 champion, Brandon Johnson, returned for the virtual run.

"It brings a lot of people together and running communities are really good communities, so it's nice to have that feeling even though you can't all be physically together," said Brandon Johnson while running the virtual race at Spirit Mountain. 

The original in-person event was postponed to November 14 and registration is still available


Alicia Tipcke

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