Ely Marathon draws a crowd

Overall turnout up; runners from 14 states participate

WINNER - Lisa Smith of Hibbing outran the field and set a record en route to victory in the 13.1-mile half marathon. Smith, 35, became the first female to win the half-marathon overall title, taking first in 1:26:50. Photo by Heidi Pinkerton

by Tom Coombe
In its brief existence, the Ely Marathon has quickly carved its niche as one of the area’s largest attractions.
The town was abuzz last weekend and overall turnout was up for the third annual event.
Thanks to a big jump in participation in the Sept. 22 five-kilometer Northern Lights Glow Run, the races had 791 participants and 695 finishers, up from 702 and 614, respectively from 2016.
The numbers included 79 finishers in the 26.2-mile marathon, which crowned a new champion as Hunter Kingston crossed the finish line at Whiteside Park in two hours, 59 minutes, and one second.
The 34-year-old from St. Paul had the only sub-three hour time on a course that started on the Echo Trail and made its way into Ely. The women’s champion came from Minneapolis, as Kathy Provenzano, 43, won in 3:33:36.
Lisa Smith outran the field and set a record en route to victory in the 13.1-mile half marathon.
Smith, 35, became the first female to win the half-marathon overall title, taking first in 1:26:50. She hails from Hibbing.
The half-marathon included 234 finishers, with Michael Eden, 31, of the U.S. Virgin Islands winning the men’s division in 1:32:21.
New to the event this year was the Ely Marathon’s first half-marathon canoe portage.
Three entrants carried a canoe through the entire course, with Elyite Daniel Drehmel, 30, winning in 2:21:02.
While the bulk of the races were Saturday, Ely filled up the night before with the Glow Run, which had 309 finishers.
Jesse Prince, 36, of Bemidji won the event in a breeze. He finished in 18:10, three minutes better than the next closest participant.
The top female finisher in the Glow Run was Elyite Deb Hultman, 56, who won in 22:56.
Marathon weekend in Ely proved to be festive, with predicted thunderstorms missing the area Saturday morning and Whiteside Park filling with racers, their friends and family members and fans.
“The weekend was fabulous,” said event organizer Wendy Lindsay.
Marathon and associated race participants came from Ely, elsewhere in Minnesota and beyond.
Canada and the U.S. Virgin Islands were represented last weekend and race participants came from 14 states and the District of Columbia.
Lindsay said there’s still plenty of room for growth for the event.
“We definitely want to increase numbers,” said Lindsay. “Hearing from other race directors, the third and fourth years are generally quiet as all the local people have done it. Now we’re drawing from those that have to plan a year in advance.”
The races proved popular with members of various running clubs, and Lindsay indicated that the course, which winds down the Echo Trail and goes into Winton before coming into Ely, is a draw.
“They definitely like the beauty of the course, and there were peak colors this year,” said Lindsay.
Participation in the half-marathon was down from a year ago, while the marathon was on par, with the big jump coming in the five-kilometer Glow Run.
The marathon also included a 1.2-mile kids race, as students completed a marathon they finished over many days in physical education classes.
Caid Chittum, 10, was the boys winner in 8:05 while Maya Trujillo, also 10, was the first girl to finish in 9:35.