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Bob Conner of Bemidji has become an a icon in International Falls for running in all 30 years of the 10k Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run. Submitted Photo

Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run: Bemidji man honored for 30 years in competition

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Runner Bob Conner of Bemidji is well known in International Falls as the only person to compete in all 30 years of the Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run.

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The race was held last weekend with about 270 other runners participating in the 10k run whose motto is "Only the Bold Run in the Cold."

Conner, 52, finished in 60 minutes and a few odd seconds wearing bib No. 30.

"It was a beautiful day," he said. "I really needed that. I tore a tendon in my hip in August, and I was unsure how I would do if it was nasty."

His accomplishment has not gone unnoticed. For the 25th annual race he was featured in the Running Times magazine.

"It's been neat," Conner said. "Before the race starts, they call me up front and recognize me. Now, they hold out the bib for which number of years I've run. It helps me keep track when I look back at old photos."

He said his toughest weather year was the second year with minus-78 wind chill. He said organizers would have cancelled except they were pressured by a Winnipeg running club to hold the race.

Conner suffered a heart condition in December 2006, passing out in his kitchen, breaking a rib and being hospitalized for cardiac surgery. He received an OK from his doctor to walk the race.

"I had to keep the string going," said Conner. "A lot of friends, runners, kept an eye on me that year."

His support folks call themselves "Team Bob on a Stick." Dolls place on sticks with "Bob" written on them line the course.

"What was neat this year, they put together a display of T-shirts of all 30 years," he said. "They contacted me and I supplied them with four of the early years."

How many years does Conner hope to run the Gizzard Blizzard? "I'm shooting for 31, one year at a time, as long as my health holds up."

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