Grandma’s Minnesota Mile records set

Taking the recommendations of friends, Kenyan-born Aron Rono of Sante Fe, N.M., and Canadian-born Olympian Carmen Douma-Hussar of Ardmore, Pa., entered the Grandma’s Minnesota Mile for the first time and won Sunday morning’s elite race titles on Superior Street.

Rono, 27, set a course record in 3 minutes, 58.18 seconds in the fourth annual event. He broke the mark of 3:59.69, set last year by Kenyan Haron Lagat, a teammate with the Ameri-Kenyan Running Club. Lagat had encouraged Rono to try the race.

Douma-Hussar, 33, ninth at 1,500 meters in the 2004 Summer Games, smashed the women’s course mark by more than five seconds in 4:35.60. Two-time winner Carrie Vickers of Carbondale, Colo., ran the previous best of 4:40.99 last year. Douma-Hussar was in Duluth after hearing about the race from former Villanova University roommate Carrie Tollefson of St. Paul, who has run the event. The winners each earned $2,000 from a $12,500 prize money purse.

“I want to try to make Kenya’s track team for the 2012 Summer Olympics, and my coach and I are deciding between 5,000 and 10,000 meters,” said Rono, a seven-time NAIA All-American in track and cross country through 2009 at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, Calif. “I have never run under four minutes in the mile and it was very important for me to do that. It shows I have some speed and proves I’m more of a 5K guy.”

Rono, 5-foot-8 and 124 pounds, won two straight NAIA cross country titles and two straight 1,500-meter outdoor track titles as a collegian, and has a track mile best of 4:01.30. He was part of a small group that broke away from a 29-runner elite field at about 800 meters, then tucked in behind with 400 meters to go and stepped out and around a few bodies with 20 meters left. It was his first road mile.

Minnesota native and former Stanford University star Garrett Heath of Palo Alto, Calif., was second, three-tenths of a second behind in 3:58.48, while Kenyan Felix Kiboiywo of Auburn, Ala., was third in 3:59.33. The top Duluthians were Justin Grunewald, 24, who was 17th in 4:15.63 and Jeremy Polson, 32, who was 19th in 4:18.88

“It has been almost a month since my last race (a 1,500 event in France) and this was painful,” said Heath, 24, an eight-time state champion in cross country, track and Nordic skiing at Winona High School. “The last 400 meters was a little out of my comfort zone and I didn’t have that last gear to win, but I couldn’t have run any faster than I did.”

Douma-Hussar has eased her way back into racing after giving birth to her daughter, Pippa, 14 months ago. She was looking to redeem herself after a fourth-place at 1,500 meters in 4:17.79 in the Canadian Championships in July in Toronto. Her most recent road mile was a 4:22.8 to win the 2007 Fifth Avenue Mile in New York City.

“I didn’t really look at who was racing here, but I knew Amy Mortimer was running and I knew this would have to be a hard effort,” said Douma-Hussar, a three-time NCAA Division I champion, including at 1,500 meters outdoors. “It was fun to race here because I felt at home. I have seen all of the Great Lakes now, after seeing Lake Superior, and it’s beautiful.”

Mortimer, 29, from Leonardville, Kan., and a 12-time All-American at Kansas State, was second in 4:36.00 to win $1,250 near the end of a busy racing season. She won the Grand Blue Mile road race in 4:35 on April 20 in Des Moines, Iowa, and was sixth at 1,500 meters in 4:16.89 at the U.S. Championships on June 26 in Des Moines.

Heather Dorniden, 23, of Minneapolis of Team USA Minnesota, was third in 4:39.40 to win $1.000, just two days after being married.

There was a record 532 entrants in four mile events, including the largest elite fields in race history.

“We made a substantial effort to recruit more elite runners and to continue to make this one of the best road mile events in the United States,” said Grandma’s Marathon executive director Scott Keenan.

Winners in the Duluth Mile were Robert Jenson, 20, of Duluth in 4:49 and Katie Lovrien, 36, of St. Louis Park, Minn., in 5:24. Winners in the All City Mile were Tony Moen, 34, of Proctor in 5:29 and Gina Slotness, 29, of Duluth in 6:11.

The point-to-point race went from the Fitger’s Brewery Complex at about 600 East Superior to Fourth Avenue West. The weather was sunny and about 53 degrees.

FOURTH GRANDMA’S MINNESOTA MILE

Sunday’s Results

Elite Mile Men

1. Aron Rono, 27, Sante Fe, N.M., 3:58.18 ($2,000); 2. Garrett Heath, 24, Palo Alto, Calif., 3:58.48 ($1,250); 3. Felix Kiboiywo, 23, Auburn, Ala., 3:59.33 ($1,000); 4. Kevin Chelimo, 27, Eugene, Ore., 3:59.63 ($750); 5. Will Leer, Eugene, Ore., 4:00.13 ($500); 6. Philip Lagat, 27, Toledo, Ohio, 4:01.73 ($250).

Masters — 1 Ovidiu Olteanu, 40, Romania, 4:34.93 ($500).

Women

1. Carmen Douma-Hussar, 33, Ardmore, Pa., 4:35.60 ($2,000); 2. Amy Mortimer, 29, Leonardville, Kan., 4:36.00 ($1,250); 3. Heather Dorniden, 23, Minneapolis, 4:39.40 ($1,000); 4. Gabriele Anderson, 24, Perham, Minn., 4:42.20 ($750); 5. Breeda Willis, 40, Stevens Point, Wis., 4:42.50 ($500); 6. Jamie Cheever, 23, Minneapolis, 4:49.20 ($250).

Masters — 1 Willis, 40, 4:42.50 ($500).

Duluth Mile Men

1. Robert Jenson, 20, Duluth, 4:39; 2. Kyle Smith, 23, Wright, 4:42; 3. David Hyopponen, 30, Duluth, 4:45; 4. Mark Mickow, 20, Duluth, 4:46; 5. Ted Lillie, 25, Bloomington, Minn., 4:47.

Women

1. Kate Lovrien, 36, St. Louis Park, Minn., 5:24; 2. Gabrielle Cyr, 24, Duluth, 5:29; 3. Amanda Lepisto, 28, Duluth, 5:39; 4. Janet Ochocki, 39, Minneapolis, 5:39; 5. Erika Sorgatz, 30, Chicago, 5:45.

All City Mile Men

1. Tony Moen, 34, Proctor, 5:29; 2. Mike Hickey, 47, Duluth, 5:30; 3. Evan Hunter, 22, Duluth, 5:30; 4. Glen Flanagan, 38, Saginaw, 5:31; 5. Thomas Hon, 34, Duluth, 5:31.

Women

1. Gina Slotness, 29, Duluth, 6:11; 2. Jessca Landwehr, 28, Superior, 6:15; 3. Rebekka Stumme, 36, Duluth, 6:17; 4. Marie Van Overmeiren, 42, Superior, 6:25; 5. Tracy Malkovich, 31, Duluth, 6:31.

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