Healthy St. Paul Runs TCM

This year, for the first time, Healthy Saint Paul sponsored a team in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon (TCM). The Corporate Team Challenge is designed to get employees of all ages and abilities moving.

By joining the City team, employees can enjoy extra perks and amenities on race day like use of a heated tent with a changing area at the finish line along with special food, massage, and door prizes. If you choose to pack a gym bag in advance with dry clothing, they will also make sure it is in the tent for you at the end of the race.
The creation of the City of Saint Paul team happened somewhat late in the game this year though we were able to sign up six team members. We know there are more City employees who ran this race and want to encourage you or other first time TCM runners to be part of this team in 2018. Regular, single registration rates apply but there is no cost to be part of the team. The City’s team came in 19 out of 29 using age-graded scoring – a good showing considering this our first year with few members. Recognition is also awarded to the top three teams with the greatest number of runners – we hope to have a shot at that award next year. Watch for more information on joining the City of Saint Paul TCM 2018 team in February when registration opens.

Team members included one who has run every TCM since its beginning to a first time marathoner. They came from various departments: Dave Gontarek, PED; John McCarthy, OFS; Amanda Feist, Library; Alice Messer, Parks; Bridget Morales, OFS; and Joe Ellickson, PW. Despite the differences in their marathon running experience, the team members’ personal experiences for this marathon were similar. First of all, they all said they had a great time, which was a primary goal. The TCM is known as the most beautiful marathon in the US, to which they all agreed. They all were so grateful and amazed at the support and encouragement the cheering crowd provided. Also, enjoying the benefit of the heated tent that is only available to corporate team members made a big difference. Joe compared that end of race experience to like being bumped up to first class on a long flight. Those on this year’s team who decide to run it next year will definitely join the City of Saint Paul team.

Below is more about each of the runners.

Dave Gontarek

Dave is by far the most experienced TCM runner, being 1 of only 22 runners who have run every TCM since its inception 36 years ago. Despite his extensive experience, he learns something new each time. This year he learned that even if no rain is forecast, he should bring a garbage bag to the starting line to use as a cover, just in case. As it turned out, it rained quite hard at the starting line and again at the end so he was soaked. He still had a fabulous time.
Dave admits he isn’t as driven to run as hard as he did in his earlier days. He is slower than when he was younger, but runs it for the enjoyment. His goal is just to run the whole race and not walk. He is okay with that. He likes to say that “without the back of the pack there can’t be a front of the pack.”
The benefit of the heated tent at the end of the race was great as he could warm up, change out of his wet clothes, and get food. He will be running next year’s marathon. Dave quoted a runner who said “In running, as in life, you can’t fail as long as you keep moving”. Anyone who intends to run it next year should spend some time talking with Dave about all he has learned over the years of running this beautiful marathon.

John Mccarthy

This was John’s fourth TCM and fifth marathon overall. John’s father was a marathon runner and got him into running at an early age. He lives along the course so most years participates in one of the sponsored events along with his wife. John really pushed it this year, and it turned out to be his best time yet, qualifying him for the Boston Marathon next year. While at the end he felt the consequences of pushing himself so hard, he learned from that and will not make the same mistakes next year. He thinks the TCM is the most well organized race he has done. He recognizes this happens as the result of a number of City employees from Police and Fire that work to keep it running smoothly and safely. The cheering crowd is also so motivating in helping to keep runners going.
As for being part of the Corporate team, he got to know a few people in the City he didn’t know before, and it was nice for the camaraderie. In the future, he sees joining the team as another way to network and connect with other City employees in a more social way.

Bridget Morales

This was Bridget’s second marathon and her best, despite the rain, wind and development of some foot issues during the race. She finds the crowd support so helpful. She saw several City workers and friends along the way who cheered her on. At the end, Bridget was most grateful for the warm tent as a place to comfortably sit down, warm up and get food and drinks like hot soup, sandwiches and Gatorade without having to walk much further. The changing tent and massage were also a big plus. Bridget advises anyone contemplating a marathon to start by finding and following one of the many training programs that are available online or join a running group. It is a lot of training to do but you will find that you can do so much more than you thought you could.

Amanda Feist

This year’s TCM was Amanda’s first marathon. She started running about 2 years ago after she bought a jogging stroller for her children. Before this year, she had only run a few 5Ks. Amanda knew other people who were going to be running the TCM this year so decided to sign up for it in April. She combined a couple training programs to keep her on track and help with her nutrition as well. Though she admits the weather was crummy, and she suffered an injury at Mile 15, she thought it was fun. Her training is what helped her power through her struggles to the end. Also, there was so much good energy from the crowd that helped keep her going. She is contemplating participating next year and sees the benefit of being part of the City team. She sees it as motivational as it provides a sense of running for something bigger than yourself. Training runs together would be great. It would also be nice to have time to get together with team members before the race. As a selling point also for running a marathon, she sees it as really good experience for anyone who has project management in their job responsibilities as you have to be committed to it. it is not something you can do on a whim.

Alice Messer

Alice’s first marathon was Grandma’s in 2004. That was before she had children so since then, she has been running one or two ½ marathons a year which involves less training time than a full marathon Alice takes advantage of her lunch break to run during the week, using Saturday mornings for her longer runs. She decided to run TCM this year after a friend asked her to join her. There were so many people out there cheering everyone on. While the weather was a bit cold at the end, she thought it was a great experience. She met her goals of having fun and not walking and beat her previous time. If she decides to do it again next year, she will definitely join the City team.

Joe Ellickson

Joe is an experienced marathon runner, having run six in the past along with other long distance races. By far, he thinks the TCM is the most beautiful of all. He reiterated what the other team members had said about the crowd being so encouraging along the way. For any runners out there contemplating a marathon, he highly recommends choosing this one. Joe was so thankful for getting to be part of the Saint Paul team which provided the use of the heated tent. It made so much difference to the end of this race experience compared to other races he has finished. He felt like he had been bumped up to first class on an airline seat. From entering the warm tent, he was greeted by the volunteers and given the opportunity to enter a drawing – in which he won a great prize. There was hot soup and coffee, sandwiches, and other treats. Because the heated tent is only provided to corporate team members, he didn’t have to wait long to get a massage and, best of all, no long lines at the toilets. He encourages any City employee who plans on running next year to become part of the City team.