In a typical year, the Lake Region Run marks the unofficial start of the competitive run season in Fergus Falls and the surrounding area. However, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s version held Saturday saw a bit of a facelift including a slight name change from the classic Lake Region Run enthusiasts know the event by, to the Lake Region Virtual Run, complete with staggered start times for participants, as well as a later start in the year from the first week of June to October.
Run director Karoline Gustafson elaborated on some of the changes that were made for the health and safety of participants.
“Saturday went great. We did 20-person heats 15 minutes apart from each other. All runners got COVID-19 screened before they were allowed a race bib. The atmosphere of the race was much different than the past but the energy level was the same,” Gustafson said. “We had an MC instead of a live band and spectators were not allowed at the start/finish line in NP Park. All the runners were so excited to be a part of the event. Normally we run between 800-1,000 participants and, due to the restrictions, we ran about 200 people this year.”
Gustafson added there were a fair amount of out-of-town entrants and that for most runners Saturday’s event was their first in-person race of the year.
The 10-mile run portion of the event saw 35 runners (17 men, 18 women) complete the course in an average of 1:35:44.
Taking the top three spots in the men’s division was Michael Thorsgaard in first with a time of 1:06:17, followed by Michael Brown (1:08:21) and Brad Christenson (1:09:56).
For the women, Emily Tomalla (1:08:57) finished first followed by Caitlin Hayes (1:14:22) and Emily Kern (1:15:21).
The 5K portion of the event saw 42 participants (14 men, 28 women) complete the course in an average time of 35:51.
All proceeds from Saturday’s event go toward the Lake Region Healthcare Cancer Care & Research Center which is celebrating 10 years of cancer care in Fergus Falls. If interested in making a donation visit lrhc.org/forms/online-donation.
“I cannot thank our sponsors, staff, volunteers, racers and community members enough for helping us with this great event,” Gustafson said.