by Rachel Finkbeiner, Special to the Star News
About 100 eager runners took part in the Bigtooth Sweet Tooth 5K and 1K at Woodland Trails on Saturday.
“It promotes running and draws and interest to cross country and the Woodland Trails park,” said organizer Mike Niziolek, Elk cross country coach about the event that reached its 15th year Saturday.
Running is simply a part of life, according to the winners of both the male and female groups.
“It’s a stress relief and helps me relax,” said John Kallemeyn.
“Running is such a wonderful activity. I’m so happy to still be able to do it,” said Kate Tavakley.
Tavakley and Kallemeyn are Elk River graduates, 1993 and 2004, respectively. Both also ran cross country at Minnesota-Duluth. Both have been back to this race many times to see old friends and Niziolek. There were 16 former Elks in this year’s race.
Kallemeyn has won the race numerous times, although Tyler Stevens, Class of 2010, was right on his heels this year. Kallemeyn is assistant Nordic Ski coach for Elk River and will be doing some triathlons this summer.
After the 5K, eight kids ran in a modified 1K. Joel Bouley, 8, claimed the first place prize. It was his fourth time running this race and first win.He said he woke up just knowing he was going to win. The rest of his day was set, he said: “I’m going to walk around and rest my legs.”
The name for the race was a combined effort by Niziolek and Brad Wick. (Wick, former Elk, currently Boise State cross country coach, originated the event 15 years ago.) A portion of Woodland Trails is already called Big Tooth, after the big hills. The word “sweet” was added to give the race a clever title.”And of course, everyone likes food,” stated Niziolek.
The race had numerous sponsors with every participant receiving bread from Diamond City Bakery and $500 worth of door prizes was handed out.
The 15th Bigtooth was one of the best, weather-wise, with cooler temperature and a clear sky. Niziolek said usually it’s hot, and the flies are bad. One year it was pouring rain and thundering so bad they almost had to cancel it.The weather this year was more in keeping with a fall cross country race. The Bigtooth Sweet Tooth is run on trails like a cross country race, Niziolek said, as opposed to road races like most 5K’s or 10Ks.
The most unique thing about this race is the difficult hills.
“Mile two is absolutely horrible,” said Tavakley. “It’s all up and down, up and down.”
Kallemeyn enjoys the challenging course: “The hills are excellent.”
Top ten — (1) John Kallemeyn 17:13 (2) Tyler Stevens 17:28 (3) Lucas Trapp 17:40 (4) Cole Konczal 17:41 (5) Ryan Trapp 18:13 (6) Nate Webster 19:04 (7) Jeremy Hanson 19:05 (8) Eric Stevens 19:06 (9) Breck Hickman 19:10 (10) Denny Green 19:21
Age group winners — 16-20: L. Trapp … 21-24: T. Stevens … 25-34: Kallemeyn … 35-44: Green … 45-54: Dave Cowles 22:30 … 55-up: Greg Stewart 23:54
Top eight — (1) Kate Tavakley 21:56 (2) Theresa Lensing 22:08 (3) Kim Nygaard 22:15 (4) Kayla Zimmerman 22:24 (5) Anna Haugen 23:33 (6) Gabriella Jung 23:34 (7) Kailey Erdahl 23:35 (8) Kari Radke 23:36
Age group winners — 16-20: Zimmerman … 21-24: Rachel Gates 29:25 … 35-44: Tavakley … 45-54: Nygaard