Hartmark, Koski Win Titles

     The Thunder Bay Chronicle’s story Tuesday on Duluthians Eric Hartmark and Katie Koski winning repeat titles in Monday’s 76th Ten Mile Road Race in Ontario. Oh, the run was delayed mid-race, by a train. Hartmark is pictured below from Thunder Bay News Watch.com:

By Jim Kelly
     The Firefighters Ten Mile Road Race is getting to be a competition between Duluth‘s Eric Hartmark and Jonathan Balabuck of Thunder Bay.
     Hartmark won the latest race Monday with a time of 52:37 with Balabuck almost three minutes in arrears at 55:18.
     Paul Carr of Thunder Bay was third just two seconds behind Balabuck in 55:20.
     Hartmark also won the 2008 race in 51:42.
     Balabuck owned this race coming in first every year from 2003 to 2007.
     Hartmark‘s time of 52:37 could have been even faster had he, Balabuck and a few other elite runners not been delayed by a train for up to two-and-a-half minutes.
     “I felt pretty good today,” Hartmark said after the race. “I definitely felt better than I felt last year so it was a fun race.”
     Watching Hartmark at the halfway point, one would have thought he was just breezing along comfortably on a training run.
     He looked relaxed with a smooth stride and had absolutely no signs of strain on his face. 
     And, there was no sign of anybody behind him.
     Whatever training Hartmark did in preparation for this race certainly paid off as he said he ran the last six miles in a sub five-minute-per-mile pace.
     Hartmark said he and Balabuck ran together for the first couple of miles and then all the lead pack was blocked by the train.
     He ran with a group of runners for a mile or so before taking off on his own.
     Balabuck said he welcomes competitors from out of town like Hartmark. 
     In fact, he‘d like to see financial incentives offered to attract more elite athletes.
     “What I‘d like to see is the faster end of the field grow and develop,” he said.
“So I‘d like to see five or six guys go sub-50 (minutes). “And the only way we‘re going to be able to do that probably is we start creating cash purses.”
     On the women‘s side, it was also no competition as Duluth‘s Katie Koski came first in 59:22.
Nicki Wilberforce and Heather Hillsburg, both of Thunder Bay, were second and third in 61:20 and 64:39, respectively.
     This was Koski‘s seventh first place finish dating back to 1999.
     There may be more victories in her future as she loves coming here every Victoria Day weekend.
“It‘s Thunder Bay, it sort of feels like a home away from home,” Koski said.
“I mean it feels like Duluth and it‘s on the lake and I love coming to the Hoito and just the running community in Thunder Bay, I‘ve made so many friends over the years,” she said. 
      Koski will keep coming back because she still chasing the all-time women‘s record of 57:16 set by Erja Ervonen of Finland in 1994. Koski has come close running 57:50 in 1999.
      Wiberforce didn‘t win the race but if it‘s any consolation she beat her husband Kevin who had a time of 102:19.
      She said she‘s gearing up for Grandma‘s Marathon in Duluth and has been logging between 45 and 60 miles per week in training.
      While there are elite runners every year, this race is more for the recreational runners for whom finishing the race is just as much a victory for them as a trophy is for others.

Eric Hartmark of Duluth captured his second consecutive Firefighters Ten Mile Road Race on Monday,  winning in 52:37.