Despite high early morning temperatures and humidity, nearly 400 runners (393) showed up to compete in the annual Riverfest 5k.
None of them competed quite as well as Phil LaVallee.
LaVallee, a now-former Magic running star, turned in a time of 16:07.83 to finish nearly 14 seconds ahead of his closest competitor. Not bad for a young man who shortly before the race told his high school coach and 5k organizer (Dave Wik) that he hadn’t been running well at all.
“I didn’t even really want to run,” LaVallee admitted to the Times a couple of days after the race.
LaVallee is set to go to South Dakota State University this fall where he will compete for both the cross country and track and field teams. Therefore, after taking just over a week off after track season, he has been back at it, following a strict college training program.
Until Saturday morning, he hadn’t felt great about his times, or the way things were headed. Saturday morning, that changed.
“I guess all I needed is some competition,” said LaVallee.
And he got plenty of that, as some of the top runners from around the area showed up to compete in the 5k.
One alum was Hunter Kopff, a strong Monticello runner that just graduated last year. He finished third on Saturday. Cyrus Mason, another recent alum, came in 11th in the male division with a sprint down the home stretch.
And then there were high school kids, both local (Derek Secord, who finished ninth) and from surrounding towns, including second-place finisher Brendan Sage, from St. Michael, who is just 16 years old.
“He’ll be one of the top runners in the area next year,” said Wik.
Another standout high school performer won the female side of the event. Noelle Olson, 17, of Big Lake finished in 18:51.77 to take eighteenth place overall. Olson was a state meet qualifier this spring for Big Lake, and on Saturday showed an ability to beat a deep field. 212 females finished the race, 31 more than did on the men’s side of things.
Two of the top ten runners on the women’s side came from Monticello. Magic track and field coach Kim Nygaard finished in fourth place with a time of 20:16.97. She was followed not too far behind by one of her best and brightest young runners, as incoming ninth-grader Alex Revenig took eighth place with a time of 20:41.02.
Overall, it was an event that left most people walking away happy.
“Everything went well,” said Wik. “We had no known heat issues, and everyone seemed pleased.”
The most pleased was likely LaVallee, who set the Riverfest time record for the 19 and under age group.
But, that doesn’t mean he won’t be back and looking for more next year.
He mentions that he has a couple of goals left that he could accomplish at the 5k. One of those is beating his former coach Dave Wik head to head, something Wik occasionally points out to him that he’s never done. Another is beating Dr. Joe Mahoney, who hasn’t ran in recent years, despite being the overall record holder in the event with a time of 15:22.
But even if he doesn’t get that chance, LaVallee will be happy knowing he checked off a runner’s goal on Saturday.
“One of the things you want to accomplish before you’re dead is to win your hometown 5k,” summed up LaVallee.