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Teens take over the half marathon

Phoebe Koski runs the 2013 half marathon. (Photo submitted)1 / 3
Hannah Peterson competes in a 2013 cross country race. (Photos submitted)2 / 3
Ava Meyer races in a 2014 track meet.3 / 3

It may be Grandma’s Marathon, but in 2013 only 98 out of 5,620 total finishers were actual grandmothers. With 367 teenagers registered for the 2014 race, the newer, shorter Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon is growing in popularity for the younger crowd.

Notable area high school runners such as 16-year-olds Phoebe Koski and Ava Meyer and 17-year-old Hannah Peterson are excited to participate.

“This is my second year running Grandma’s half marathon,” said Koski. “The celebration and the excitement that comes with it is fun. It’s such a big deal in Duluth, the whole weekend is about Grandma’s and it’s just kind of exciting.”

Koski has some pretty big running shoes to fill. Her mother, Katie McGee, is a local elite runner, who most recently won the Fitger’s 5K in April.

“My mom has gone to the Olympic trials multiple times,” said Koski. “She has won many local races and races around Minnesota as well.”

As one of the top runners at East High School, Koski has already proved her talent many times. During only her second year of cross country, Koski went to sections and qualified for state. She ran in the middle of the race, which is a huge accomplishment. However, Koski hasn’t always embraced her natural gifts.

“My parents always forced me to run and do races and after a while I just accepted it and started to like it,” said Koski.

As a teen running the half, Koski has some good advice for other runners.

“You definitely need to train for it,” said Koski. “Younger people could get really injured from it if they don’t train.”

As a year-round athlete, Koski keeps in shape for the marathon with cross country in the fall, nordic skiing in the winter and track in the spring.

Another local area runner gearing up for the half is East High School junior Ava Meyer. As a two-year state qualifier in the 4x4 relay, Meyer is ready to make the change from running short distances in track to the 13.1 miles of the half marathon.

“It will be my second time running Grandma’s half marathon this year,” said Meyer. “I run for fun but I’m racing my older brother this year.”

Although the rainy weather for last summer’s marathon was less than ideal, EHS runner Peterson is still excited to have another go at the course.

“Some friends and I ran the half for fun last summer,” said Peterson. “It was raining out but it was a really good experience.”

The full marathon is a race that Peterson isn’t interested in running, feeling strongly that the half marathon is a better choice for teens.

“I probably wouldn’t run the full marathon at this age because your body isn’t fully matured yet,” said Peterson. “I just feel like it would be kind of dangerous for someone our age to run it.”

According to a 2001 report from the International Marathon Medical Directors Association, only runners ages 18 years or older should be running full marathons.

Training for the half is a point Peterson would like to emphasize.

“I do lots of 10-mile runs and I’ve also done one 12-mile,” said Peterson. “Make sure you train a little bit because one of my friends didn’t train at all and then she got a stress fracture when she ran the half marathon.”