Kiptoo, Kongin among elite pack racing to repeat as Grandma's Marathon champions |

Kiptoo, Kongin among elite pack racing to repeat as Grandma's Marathon champions

Updated: June 18, 2021 09:34 PM
Created: June 18, 2021 08:03 PM

Racers pour into Duluth from near and far for the opportunity to run in Grandma's Marathon.

For Minnesota native Tyler Jermann, it's special to represent his home state in the 45th annual race.

"We live in St. Paul so it's a two hour drive, but even coming up here, we come up here so often it feels like a home town race," Jermann said. "I've actually run it four times. Once in the [Garry Bjorklund] half, so I know the course. It's always fun being up here, it's a fast course, and it means a lot to me."

This marks Jermann's third Grandma's Marathon. He could become the first Minnesotan to win the race since Dick Beardsly. 

He'll have a tough pack to compete against including C.J. Albertson, a seventh place finisher in the U.S. Olympic trials, and 2019 Grandma's Marathon winner Boniface Kongin.

"In 2019 I was fresh from [racing in] Pittsburgh, came back here, did some running, but this year I need something," Kongin explained. "So we're going to see tomorrow."

"I'm just trying to get a good race in and just feel competitive again," Albertson said.

Kongin added that after having a great year in 2019 he's excited to be back and hopes to repeat as the champion. 

For the wheelers division, James Senbeta is representing the elite field. Entering his 8th Grandma's Marathon, he has his sights set on his second title, but first since 2016.

Speaking of repeat champions, Sarah Kiptoo has returned to the elite women's field.

The two time Grandma's Marathon champion also picked up her last title in 2016. Coming into her first race since October of 2019, Kiptoo said racing alongside other competitors will be a welcome change from her training.

Known to push the pace, she's confident she can keep up other elite athletes, including Texan Kelsey Bruce, and the 2019 Minnesota Runner of the Year Dakotah Lindwurm. 

"I always feel confident leaving the starting line, and I'll feel more happy if I cross the finish line leading," Kiptoo said.

"Of course I would like to win, but I can't control how these other women run if they have incredible days," Lindwurm said. "That's awesome for them and I'm going to be happy, but I am going to get my nose out and be out there to win."

Lindwurm competed in the 2020 Olympic trials in Atlanta, calling it her best marathon. Interestingly enough, she also has experience training with the Olympic hockey players during her decade as a goalie.

Mild weather is predicted for Saturday, so it could be anyone's race.

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