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Runners shatter course records in Minnesota Mile (w/ video)

Craig Miller (1), of Boulder, Colo.; Jack Bolas (6) of Greenville, S.C.; and Ben Blankenship of Stillwater, Minn., surge through the finish line of the Minnesota Mile in Duluth on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013. Blankenship won the race with a course-record time of 3 minutes, 52.7 seconds. (Clint Austin / / 3
Gabriele Anderson, of Minneapolis, celebrates at the finish line of the Minnesota Mile in Duluth on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013. Anderson won the women's race with a time of 4 minutes, 21.3 seconds. (Clint Austin / / 3

On Friday night, Gabriele Anderson ran on the world stage at a track meet in Belgium.

On Sunday morning, she cruised down Superior Street to claim the women's title at the seventh annual Grandma's Minnesota Mile in downtown Duluth.

With a northeast wind at their backs and fans lining Superior Street to cheer them on, runners shattered the course records for the race that started near Fitger's and ended near Fourth Avenue West on a morning that saw temperatures in the low 60s.

Anderson, 27, of Minneapolis won in 4:21.3, beating defending champion and former University of Minnesota teammate Heather Kampf, 26, of Minneapolis by 5.8 seconds.

Last year, Anderson finished second to Kampf. This year, Anderson and Kampf both finished ahead of the previous women's record, 4:35.6, set by Carmen Douma-Hussar in 2010.

"I just completed my professional track season on Friday night in Brussels, Belgium, on the Diamond League circuit, competing against the best women in the world," Anderson said. She arrived back in Minnesota on Saturday evening, then drove to Duluth. "I think the jet lag helped. ... It's easier on the way back, because my body thinks that it's early evening right now, rather than morning, and I think that's a little easier."

Ben Blankenship, 23, a native of Stillwater, Minn., won the men's race in 3 minutes, 52.7 seconds -- edging two-time defending champion Craig Miller, 26, of Boulder, Colo., by just four-tenths of a second. Jack Bolas, 25, of Greenville, S.C., took third place in 3:53.5, and Diriba Degefa Yigezu, a native of Ethiopia now living in New York, was a close fourth in 3:54.1.

The top seven men's runners all finished ahead of the previous men's course record of 3:58.18, set by Aron Rono in 2010.

"Craig Miller and I have been racing together for a long time," said Blankenship, who ran for the University of Minnesota and now runs for the Oregon Track Club, training in Eugene. "He went to the University of Wisconsin, so we were in the Big Ten together. We raced a lot this summer, and kept the fight going here in Duluth. He brought it down to the wire, and I had to run all that I could on that last 100 meters."

Blankenship and Anderson each received $3,000 for the win.

Blankenship said he chose to run in Duluth in part because it was close to his hometown, and his family was able to drive up to see him compete. His time Sunday would be a personal best for a road mile -- his previous best was 3:54 -- with the caveats of the tailwind and the fact that it's a net downhill course.

Anderson, a native of Perham, Minn., trains with Minneapolis-based Team USA Minnesota and competes for Brooks Running. It was her fourth time competing in the Minnesota Mile, but her first win.

"During my track season I run a few road miles a year," she said. "I have never won a road mile until today, and I'm so happy to do it in my home state, in front of a great crowd. I love Duluth, I love Minnesota, so it was a special day for me. ...

"I did notice that there was kind of a nice tailwind today, and this is a net downhill course; it starts off with a pretty good downhill for the first half of the race. ... I wanted to go out fast, and take advantage of the downhill as well as the tailwind."

Anderson said it was also a PR for her, beating her previous road mile best of 4:26.

Sarah Kiptoo, 24, of Kenya, who won Grandma's Marathon in a course record time in June, finished 10th in Sunday's women's race with a time of 4:50.

Other races

The morning of racing on Superior Street also featured the Duluth Mile for semi-elite runners, the All City Mile for recreational runners and the Verizon Kids Mile. In total, 571 competitors registered for the runs from near Fitger's to Fourth Avenue West.

Other winners included:

* Duluth Mile men: Aaron Gorman, 24, Brooklyn Park, Minn., 4:34

* Duluth Mile women: Kailee Kiminski, 17, Esko, 5:22

* All City Mile men: Ethan Skelton, 25, Duluth, 5:02

* All City Mile women: Lisa Hirsch, 31, Duluth, 5:39 (repeat champion)

* Verizon Kids Mile boys: John Schwinghamer, 14, Mora, Minn., 5:18

* Verizon Kids Mile girls: Kelly Lorenz, 12, Carlton, 6:19


7th Minnesota Mile

On Superior Street, Duluth

Sunday's Top Finishers

Minnesota Mile


1. Ben Blankenship, 23, Stillwater, Minn., 3 minutes, 52.7 seconds ($3,000); 2. Craig Miller, 26, Boulder, Colo., 3:53.1 ($2,000); 3. Jack Bolas, 25, Greenville, S.C., 3:53.5 ($1,500); 4. Diriba Degefa Yigezu, 25, Ethiopia, 3:54.1 ($1,000); 5. Nathan Brannen, 31, Canada, 3:55.0 ($800).


1. Gabriele Anderson, 27, Minneapolis, 4:21.3 ($3,000); 2. Heather Kampf, 26, Minneapolis, 4:27.1 ($2,000); 3. Sara Vaughn, 27, Centennial, Colo., 4:38.9 ($1,500); 4. Kellyn Johnson, 27, Flagstaff, Ariz., 4:40.2 ($1,000); 5. Elizabeth Yetzer, 25, Lakeville, Minn., 4:41.7 ($800).

Duluth Mile


1. Aaron Gorman, 24, Brooklyn Park, Minn., 4:34; 2. Paul Kimpling, 25, Duluth, 4:36; 3. Kelly Mortenson, 42, St. Paul, 4:39; 4. Jacob Bocht, 19, Duluth, 4:48; 5. Brian St. George, 37, Mountain Iron, 4:49.


1. Kailee Kiminski, 17, Esko, 5:22; 2. Anja Maijala, 14, Wrenshall, 5:31; 3. Phoebe Koski, 15, Duluth, 5:36; 4. Debra Gormley, 47, Plymouth, Minn., 5:37; 5. Molly Pennings, 38, Culver, 5:45.

All City Mile


1. Ethan Skelton, 25, Duluth, 5:03; 2. James Lane, 47, Superior, 5:08; 3. Jared Eickhoff, 22, Duluth, 5:13; 4. Jamie Otterblad, 32, Two Harbors, 5:16; 5. Daniel Duff, 48, Duluth, 5:16.


1. Lisa Hirsch, 31, Duluth, 5:39; 2. Annamarie Strehlow, 32, Duluth, 5:52; 3. Amber Hardwig, 38, Duluth, 5:57; 4. Hannah Peterson, 16, Duluth, 6:08; 5. Brenda Swanson, 43, Two Harbors, 6:22.