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Rain doesn’t dampen marathon

by Tom Coombe

On a random winter afternoon, Hudson Kingston predicted the future.

Several months ago, Kingston was one of the random area residents selected by the Ely Echo’s Pam Roberts for her weekly ‘O’Clock Hour,’ feature in the publication.

That’s when Kingston, an avid runner, mused that he would win this year’s Ely Marathon.

Last weekend, Kingston made good on his prediction, topping the field in this year’s race and winning the 26.2-mile trek from the Echo Trail to Whiteside Park.

After previous third and fourth-place finishes, the 40-year-old Kingston was first among 129 participants and 97 finishers with the only sub-three hour time.  Kingston finished in 2:55:51.

Kingston harkened back to his impromptu meeting with Roberts - and the subsequent feature in the Echo - as he spoke this week about his victory.

“I didn’t realize in my long rambling that I said maybe I will win the marathon this year,” said Kingston. “I got a kick out of it.”

While Kingston placed third a year ago, it was his second overall Ely Marathon victory. The attorney and avid runner also won the race in 2017.

The Ely Marathon women’s champion is Crystal (Dusich) Culhane.

Culhane returned home to run her 40th marathon, and she ended up first among all females and third overall.

The 1997 Ely Memorial  High School graduate crossed the finish line in 3:26:51.

Overall, the top-five marathon runners were:

1. Kingston, 2:55:51;

2. Henry Carlson, 33, 3:00:33;

3. Culhane, 3:26:51;

4. Alexander Bialke, 35, 3:28:44;

5. Walter Skahl, 49, 3:29:02.

Hundreds of runners and spectators had to dodge rain drops for part of race day.

Nonetheless, Whiteside Park remained a busy hub as  participants and those who cheered them on gathered under umbrellas and in tents on a festive day.

The Highland Bank Half Marathon featured 333 participants and 268 finishers, with David Hyopponen, 43, winning the event with a time of 1:20:00.

The first female was Bethany Kozak, 27, with a time of 1:29:53.

The top-five half-marathon finishers were:

1. Hyopponen, 1:20;

2. William Sackett, 34, 1:22:30;

3. Kozak, 1:29:53;

4. Nicholas Ongaro, 37, 1:31:21;

5. Sullivan Serena, 42, 1:31:48.

While still less than a decade old, the Ely Marathon has carved a unique niche with its canoe portage division.

Six runners carried a canoe the entire 26.2-mile race, with Jacob Bendel, 32, victorious in 4:36:42.

Nick Gardner, 27, took second in 4:45:42, while Sunshine Gardner, 29, was third in 5:00:57.

Seven teams were part of the marathon relay canoe portage event, with Storm King winning in 4:28:44, while Ely Outfitting Company was second in 4:41:29.

Vanessa Grams won the half-marathon portage division as an individual with a time of 3:17:54, and Mike Smith (3:22:54) was the runner-up.  Six people finished that event.

The half-marathon relay division had two finishers, with the team known as Where Da Water At winning in 2:29:44.

Kids took part in the fun, racing the final 1.2 miles of the marathon course on Saturday morning.

The winner was nine-year-old Geno Ongaro in 8:26, with Caleb Ebert the runner-up in 8:32.

Nolan Niskala (8:51), Fletcher Chopp (8:54) and James Townsend (8:56) were third, fourth and fifth, respectively in the 1.2-mile event.

The race festivities began the night before with the annual Northern Lights 5K Glow Run.

That event had a whopping 401 entrants and 367 finishers, with two 14-year-old Ely runners at the top of the field.

Wyatt Devine won the event in 20:11 and fellow Ely student Grant Chittum was in second place at 20:12.

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