'Running with Legends'
Fifteen years ago, the first Dick Beardsley Run was held in Detroit Lakes to honor the former DL resident and marathon running legend.
But it also had a dual purpose: The event was a perfect tuneup for the Twin Cities Marathon, held every October.
Since then, the event has become a tradition in its own right, drawing well over a thousand runners to Detroit Lakes every year on the second Saturday in September. (This year's event is set for Sept. 11.)
"We should break the 2,000 (participating runners) mark this year," says race director Brent Wolf, who has served in that capacity since the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center took over management of the event five years ago (Wolf is also program director at the DLCCC).
"We will also have over 100 volunteers," Wolf added, noting that they assist with everything from runner registration and setup before the race, to corner patrol, water stops and medical assistance during the event, to handing out medals and tearing down everything they helped to set up just a few hours earlier.
"Community support is essential, and has helped this race grow into what it is," said Wolf, adding that support comes not only in the form of volunteers, but also the local businesses who sponsor the race, and the crowds who come out to cheer on the runners.
"Any form of entertainment or cheering makes the course more enjoyable for the runners," said Wolf, noting that many musicians come out and perform along the course, and some people even decorate their front lawns to greet the runners as they go by.
"Some of them put out their sprinklers so the runners can run through them," Wolf added, noting that it can help refresh them on a warm day.
"Even if you don't live on the course, you can bring out your lawn chairs and come cheer them on," he said. "Or you can go to the start or finish line and give them encouragement."
The more things they have out there to entertain and encourage them along the way, "the more memorable the experience will be for them," Wolf explained.
The race includes three different categories: The half marathon, the half marathon relay (two-person teams), and the 5K run/walk, which all get underway at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11 in front of the Detroit Lakes Pavilion.
Besides half marathon and 5K categories, are also gender (male/female) and age divisions: 14 and under; 15-19; 20-24; 25-29; 30-34; 35-39; 40-44; 45-49; 50-54; 55-59; 60-64; 65-69; and 70 plus. Winners will be declared in all age categories, as well as a wheelchair division.
The two-person relay race will also have winners in the following divisions: male/male, male/female and female/female teams.
In addition, there will be a kids' run starting at 11 a.m., Wolf added. The event is open to all children age 12 and under.
In what has also become a local tradition, Beardsley himself will not only participate in the race, but will also be the guest speaker at a spaghetti feed for the runners on Friday, Sept. 10 in the DLCCC's Holmes Theatre Ballroom.
Beardsley and fellow distance running legend Kathrine Switzer are the joint speakers for the Sept. 10 event. Serving starts at 6 p.m., with the Beardsley-Switzer presentation to start at 7:30.
Beardsley's qualifications are well known, including two Grandma's Marathon titles (where he also holds the course record at 2:09:37), as well as championships at the Napa Valley Marathon (also the course record holder at 2:16:30) and the London Marathon. But he is perhaps best known for his second place finish at the 1982 Boston Marathon, dubbed the "Duel in the Sun."
Switzer first gained fame for her participation in the 1967 Boston Marathon, at a time before women were officially allowed to enter. She has since earned acclaim as the winner of the 1974 New York City Marathon, as an Emmy Award-winning television commentator, and as an inductee into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame, to name a few.
She and Beardsley will both be taking part in the half marathon on Saturday.
Wolf also said that because the marathon is going to be held on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, there will be a special "Stretch of Silence" set up along the course, where area veterans and military servicemen will be holding flags along both sides of the route.
For more information, or to register, call the DLCCC at 218-844-4221, or visit the website at dickbeardsleyrun.com.