BEMIDJI-Each time she runs a marathon, Amy Will writes a Bible verse on her hand as a reminder to keep going. On Saturday Will, the winner of the women's Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon, chose Psalm 119:18, "Open my eyes to see the wondrous things of your law."

For the three hours, 25 minutes and 36 seconds it took Will to cross the finish line, those words-and knowing that her two sons were waiting for her-motivated her to keep running.

"I was just thinking about these guys and all that God made," Will said. "It's a gift to be able to run."

The 29-year-old runner from Stephen, Minn., beat second-place finisher Carrie Miller, 33, of Minneapolis by 6:53 and was surprised by her win. She said she expected the Blue Ox Marathon to be a recovery run, as she had competed in a marathon in Grand Forks, N.D., just two weeks ago. Third-place finisher Jess Gowan, 26, of Manvel, N.D., finished with a time of 3:32:47.

"I'm not usually first," Will said. "Kind of stupid to run two marathons in a row, I suppose."

She said she knew she had a chance after about the sixth mile when she realized she was behind the bicycle that keeps pace with the race's leader.

"I was behind that bike and I'm going, 'Oh, I was just going to try to run to just get another marathon under my belt,'" Will said. "But once the chance to win was there I'm like, 'Can't miss out on that.'"

This was Will's second Blue Ox Marathon. She competed in the 2013 race just seven months after her son, Eli, was born.

"I think it was much harder to run after having a baby than it was after running another marathon," Will said.

As she sat on the parking lot pavement to rest after her finish, Will's sons ran over to congratulate her.

"I have the best cheering squad ever," she said.

Half-Marathon

Andrea Nelson, 43, of Bemidji, finished first in Saturday's half-marathon with a time of 1:31:49. Coming in second was Logan Opsahl, 22, of Forest Lake, Minn. with a time of 1:32:02, followed by Lindsey Green, 32, of Winnipeg, Man., at 1:33:59.

Loop the Lake

In Saturday's 26K Loop the Lake, Jessica Lovering, 28, of Eden Prairie, Minn., finished first with a time of 1:55:09. Finishing second was Mandy Elseth, 34, of Fargo, in 1:56:54, followed by Kari Brown, 39, of Garfield, Minn., with a time of 2:08:52.

For complete results, visit www.bemidjiblueoxmarathon.com