Marathon Sports Open a chance for the future to run

David McCoy

All-American Minnesota men’s cross country runner Andrew Carlson is no stranger to winning awards.

A three-time NCAA Championships competitor, Carlson has been named second-team All-Big Ten twice, Midwest Regional runner of the year and team most valuable runner in his illustrious career.

But even though he’s used to recognition, Carlson must still be pleased with having been named co-Big Ten runner of the week after setting a personal record and taking first in the Jim Drews Invitational in LaCrosse, Wis.

Carlson will have an extra week to enjoy his accomplishment, as he and Minnesota’s other top runners get a chance to rest up this weekend and watch some of their teammates take part in the Marathon Sports Open at Les Bolstad Cross Country Course.

The Marathon Sports Open is an open race in which men and women of many ages from around the state will compete together in two races – a 5K and a 10K.

Minnesota’s women will be competing in the 5K and the men in the 10K.

The Gophers, much like nearly all Big Ten teams, will be resting their best this weekend in preparation for the Big Ten Championships, held Oct. 31 in Iowa City, Iowa.

With that in mind, men’s coach Steve Plasencia and women’s coach Gary Wilson both said this weekend’s race is a chance to see who they’ve got coming up in the program.

“We want to provide them with feedback on how they’re progressing,” Plasencia said. “It gives them something to point to while keeping them sharp.”

Freshman Todd Johnson and Sophomore Tom Schmidt will be the only two Minnesota runners competing as Gophers this weekend.

In addition to Johnson and Schmidt, all of the men’s redshirted runners will run unattached.

Erik Grumstrup, who would have been a senior this year, is redshirting the season because Plasencia said he wants to save him for next year, when the team will be very young.

Grumstrup said he welcomes this weekend’s race as just a chance to compete again.

“It keeps one’s motivation up,” Grumstrup said. “It’s hard to be on the outside looking in because the team is doing so well. But it’s an opportunity to race.”

In contrast to the men, the entire women’s team will be racing, except for the nine who are going to the Big Ten Championships and freshman Gabriele Anderson – in case she is needed to replace someone for the Big Ten meet.

“(Anderson) has run four weekends in a row,” Wilson said. “If we need her for Big Tens, we don’t want her to have this be her fifth (race) this weekend and then sixth at Big Tens.”

Wilson said that although his team’s runners understand they will not be in any more NCAA races this season – barring injuries or illness – the race is still more important than they might realize.

“It tells a lot of stories,” Wilson said. “Let’s see who really wants it and who’s able to stick with it when they already know that, unless there’s something drastic, they won’t be going.

“You find out it separates the wheat from the chaff a little bit.”