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Grandma's weekend runs have begun: Kutz recovers from wrong turn to win Irvin 5K

Runners leave the starting line for the start of the William A. Irvin 5K race Friday in Canal Park. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

The William A. Irvin 5K follows a winding course around the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center and along Railroad Street, with a couple of hairpin turns that can confuse people who aren't familiar with it.

Like Sean Kutz of Grantsburg, Wis.

"He was supposed to do a 180-degree turn," fellow competitor Ryan Kromer said. "Instead, he did a 90."

Kutz recovered in time to win the 19th annual event on Friday, covering five kilometers, or about 3.1 miles, in 15 minutes, 54 seconds, four seconds ahead of Kromer. Kathleen Monaghan of Duluth won the women's race in 19:08 on a sunny day where the temperature climbed to 81 degrees. Former Duluth Central runner Amanda Bowman was second in 19:36.

It was Kutz's race to lose, and he nearly did about a half mile from the finish.

"It was my own fault. I ran through some cones and didn't know where I was going," Kutz said. "I lost the lead and just tried to catch right back up to (Kromer). I don't normally have a kick like that, but I had some added motivation."

Kutz, 22, ran the William Irvin when he was in high school. He begins his senior year at

Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the fall, where he has been a NCAA Division III cross country All-American and has also run track. He had a calf injury that sidelined him this spring. He has completed 5,000 meters in less than 15 minutes on the track and 15:30 on road courses, but he hadn't raced since cross country nationals in November. His younger brother, Brendan, got 18th.

"I registered for the William Irvin a while ago, but my training hasn't been very good," Kutz said. "I figured, if I already paid for it, I might as well run it. I'm pretty happy with my time considering I'm not in my best shape. Not even close."

Kromer, meanwhile, a junior at Hudson (Wis.) High School, is near his peak after the 17-year-old took second at the Wisconsin Division I state track and field championships two weeks ago in 9:19.23. Another 17-year-old, Proctor High School's Matt Welch, took fourth in 16:14. Welch took second in the Minnesota Class A 3,200 meters last week.

"I had the lead for two to three hundred meters," Kromer said of taking the lead after Kutz's mishap. "Then were neck and neck along the bay, but once we turned that corner (onto Harbor Drive), he just took off."

It was also family outing for the Kromers, with brothers Dan and Joel, and father, John, finishing 27th, 39th and 66th, respectively, among men's finishers before heading up the North Shore for a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

"That's about how I figured we'd end up, too," said John Kromer, begrudgingly celebrating his 50th birthday.

Monaghan, 44, took the lead in the women's field about a mile into the race and literally never looked back in coasting to victory over the 19-year-old Bowman.

Monaghan works as a general surgeon for Essentia Health. The former Montana State runner has lived in Duluth the past 11 years and has run about a half-dozen Grandma's Marathons. She has a top marathon time of 2:53 and finished third in the 2010 William A. Irvin 5K. She had minor injuries that kept her from training for the longer race, but she showed no ill effects on Friday.

"It was hot, but I like running in the warm weather," Monaghan said. "I used to run in Eastern Montana at noon in 100-degree weather, so this didn't bother me at all. It was a great day for me."

-- In all, there were an unofficial 1,617 finishers, including 1,012 in the women's division, with a record 1,939 registered for the event. Full results will be in Sunday's News Tribune.

-- Two-time defending William Irvin men's champion Scott Behling of Duluth will run the USA Half Marathon Championships today, while defending women's champion Heidi Peterson of Sartell, Minn., is running the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon.

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