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Jesse Prince, Natalie Timmers take first in 10th annual Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon

Runners and their supporters packed the Sanford Center parking lot on Saturday, Oct. 8, as the annual Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon kicked off its 10th anniversary. The first full marathoners to see the winning side of the finish line were Jesse Prince with a time of 2:37:30 and Natalie Timmers at 3:29:23.

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A group runs along the Paul Bunyan Trail on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, during the Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI — Runners and their supporters packed the Sanford Center parking lot on Saturday, Oct. 8, as the annual Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon kicked off its 10th anniversary.

A two-day event that includes runs ranging from fun runs for children to a full marathon for top competitors. Friday played host to kids’ fun runs and 5k and 10k races, while Saturday presented the main events: the half marathon, 26k lake loop and the 26.2-mile full marathon.

Event organizer Phil Knutson was front and center at the starting line Saturday morning as runners lined up for the race. He said his favorite part about the event is hearing why people of all walks (or runs) of life decide to race.

“Listening to all of the different reasons or goals that people are trying to accomplish or overcome through their process of training for an event like this is the best part,” Knutson said. “A lot of times people are overcoming something or coming here for a need, or they're just doing it for fun, a challenge or weight loss. Everybody's got a different story.”

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Steven Light, of Fisher, Minn., runs along the Paul Bunyan State Trail on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, during the Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

The first full marathoners to see the winning side of the finish line were Jesse Prince with a time of 2:37:30 and Natalie Timmers at 3:29:23.

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Hailing from Bemidji, Prince is no stranger to this course — or first-place medals. In 2019, he came in first and on top of that set the Bemidji Blue Ox full marathon course record with a time of 2:35:32 — only a few seconds faster than this year's time.

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Blue Ox Marathon men's division winner Jesse Prince runs along the Paul Bunyan Trail on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Bemidji.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

As for Timmers, cruising past the finish line and taking first place in the female division, came as a total shock.

“I literally cannot believe it,” Timmers said. “I had no idea, I fully expected there to be somebody in front of me. This is a big pinch-me moment.”

This is Timmers' second year running in the Blue Ox marathon and her 18th marathon overall. Her passion for running started at an early age and until today, she had never won a race.

“The Blue Ox is super fun. I ran it last year and loved it so much. I've been running since I was eight years old,” Timmers said. “But, you know, I just turned 40, I have three kids and I went to a new age category. I'm just in such a grateful place.”

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Natalie Timmers, of Nelson, Minn., crosses the finish line to win the Blue Ox Marathon for the women's division on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Bemidji.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Bemidji in its peak fall colors, the sun shining through the clouds and a cool breeze off the lake, a number of runners could be heard telling their supporters how beautiful the course was. Grateful for no snow or flurries this year, Timmers had similar words to describe the scene.

“The course was so great, it was so beautiful and the colors are amazing right now,” Timmers said. “Everyone was so friendly on the course, I was so grateful to be running.”

Although Timmers only runs for fun, she also sets goals for her races. Today, her goal was to finish in under 3 hours and 31 minutes. All the long hours of training and hard work paid off as she beat her goal time by a couple of seconds.

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“I have a really great group of running friends, we go on long runs together every Friday,” Timmers said. “I’ve just been trying to hit my mileage. I run about 40 miles a week when I'm training and mix hills and speed and I just do it because I love it.”

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Runners head northeast along the Paul Bunyan Trail on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, during the Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

On top of winning the race, it's also her husband's birthday this weekend. He participated in the half-marathon and the couple plans to celebrate tonight.

“We thought, 'What better way to celebrate?' I'm gonna eat some pizza, probably drink a beer and go to bed early,” Timmers said with a laugh.

Full Marathon Results

Top 10 Men’s Finishers:

1. Jesse Prince, 2:37:30, Bemidji
2. Andrew Richardson, 2:58:14, Wyoming, Minn.
3. Jacob Roberts, 2:58:26, Ham Lake
4. Matthew Reinders, 3:13:11, Bloomington
5. Nolan Erickson, 3:18:52, St. Joseph
6. Tanner Miest, 3:19:00, Virginia Beach, Va.
7. Jeremy McDonough, 3:24:16, Maple Grove
8. Dan Laplante, 3:29:29, Dayton
9. Tony Loyd, 3:30:21, Little Canada
10. Daniel Frederick, 3:30:46, Webster City, Iowa

Top 10 Women’s Finishers:

  1. Natalie Timmers, 3:29:23, Nelson 
  2. Jill Marble, 3:36:04, Prior Lake
  3. Nicole Gunderson, 3:41:00, Baxter
  4. Emma Jackson, 3:43:37, Lakeville
  5. Sydney Roston, 3:46:34, Minneapolis
  6. Joelle Langworthy, 3:49:36, Hawley
  7. Bobbi Toay, 3:54:46, Sartell
  8. Hannah Van Dyke, 3:54:56, Edgerton
  9. Abbie Christen, 3:55:48, Albany
  10. Wynter Isakson, 3:58:03, Moorhead

To see more results, visit bemidjiblueoxmarathon.com .

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Wynter Isakson, of Moorhead, Minn., runs along the Paul Bunyan State Trail on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, during the Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon runners take off from the starting line on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, near the Sanford Center.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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Tony Loyd, of Little Canada, Minn., runs along the Paul Bunyan State Trail on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, during the Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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Spectators watch runners from a bridge over the Paul Bunyan Trail on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, during the Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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A group runs past the 13-mile marker along the Paul Bunyan Trail on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, during the Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Related Topics: BEMIDJI
Maggi is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer focusing on outdoor and human interest stories. Raised in Aitkin, Minnesota, Maggi is a graduate of Bemidji State University's class of 2022 with a degree in Mass Communication.
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