Clare Kazmierczak picks up speed in the Park Point Five-Miler, a Grandma’s Marathon event. She’s running past women doing the two-mile walk-run.

Clare Kazmierczak is accustomed to high finishes in road races of all distances. But finishing first in a group of several hundred runners recently was pretty special.

The 42-year-old White Bear Lake teacher was the women’s champion in the 48th annual Park Point Five-Miler in Duluth on July 18. Her time was 34 minutes and four seconds on a flat course in 87-degree heat.

“I don’t remember the last time I won a race. I wasn’t expecting this,” she said. “I was thinking maybe top five or top 10, so to win was really a surprise.”

The runners endured heat unusual for Duluth. Kazmierczak said her main strategy was running through as many sprinklers as she could.

She finished 37 seconds ahead of the female runner-up in a total field of 626 runners. The men’s winner was Nick Nygaard of St. Michael in 26:27.

It was Kazmierczak’s first time running this five-miler, which is hosted by the Grandma’s Marathon organization. She has previously run their other races — the marathon (“at least a half-dozen times”), the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, and the William Irvin 5K.

Two career highlights came in 2011, when she placed seventh the Bjorklund half-marathon with 1:21:37 and notched her personal-best marathon of 2:41 in Phoenix. Last September, she placed 31st of 630 women in the Jeff Winter Memorial City of Lakes Half Marathon in Minneapolis.

Kazmierczak was a cross country and track athlete at Chisago Lakes High School and North Dakota State University. “I’ve been running for 27 years. I started running road races at age 15,” she said. A mother of three, Kazmierczak teaches English as a Second Language.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.