Teacher with great running past celebrates 50th by setting, reaching big goal
by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Tina Ostroot, Elk River first-grade teacher who was a two-time state cross county champion in high school, has resumed serious running at age 50.
This summer, Ostroot qualified for next year’s Boston Marathon, running a 3:47:20 at Grandma’s Marathon, beating the four-hour standard for her age/gender to qualify for Boston.
This was her sixth Grandma’s — and the fourth decade in which she’s run the Duluth race. The others were in 1978, 1979, 1995, 2000, and 2001.
“My first marathon was when I was 16 years old and Grandma’s was just in it’s second year,” she said. “In all my previous marathons, my goal was always just to finish the race. My times were all around four hours.”
This time Ostroot had a specific goal.
“I turned 50 last November and decided that I was going to run another marathon and try to qualify for Boston,” said Ostroot, who undertook a training program to focus on a sub four.
Boston is the oldest marathon in the United States. She’ll run it for the first time on April 15.
“I am very thankful for a supportive family and great friends. I am looking forward to a fun weekend in Boston!”
She was Tina Bahr, of International Falls, when she won the Class AA titles in the first two years a state girls race was held, 1978 and 1979. Along with a girlfriend, she had joined the boys team in the fall of 1977.
“We were thankful for the opportunity.”
At Idaho State, she made All-America in cross country. She was inducted into the ISU Hall of Fame in 1995.
“After college I have not raced competitively,” said Ostroot. “I run for the pure joy of running and meeting personal goals.”
Ostroot, who teaches at Lincoln Elementary, has lived in Elk River since 1986. Her son Collin played hockey for the Elks.
She regards her adopted hometown as a special place for runners.
“Elk River is a great location to train, with many rural roads and a great trail system,” said Ostroot. “There are a number of runners in Elk River who have qualified for Boston and run much faster times than mine.”
Mike Niziolek, the Elks longtime cross country coach, has qualified for Boston 20 times. His volunteer assistant Jill Varty has also qualified, for the first time.