St. Cloud River Runners Present…

Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon Becomes Central Minnesota Tradition

by Michael Timp
Tuesday, May 4, 2010

With the help of many dedicated volunteers and sponsors, the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon is fast becoming a Central Minnesota tradition. This year's marathon will start once again in Holdingford; travel to Albany, then on to St Joseph. The marathon will take place Saturday, May 8.

Attracting runners of all age groups and experience, the marathon has also been growing in numbers. Back in 2008, the first year of the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon, there were roughly 100 participants, while this year upwards of 200 may take part. As awareness of the race has grown, participation has also grown

The marathon was the brainchild of Joe Perske, a teacher at Sartell, and Sharon Hobbs, a lawyer from St. Cloud. Both are members of the St Cloud River Runners, a club devoted to promoting running in the Central Minnesota area.

Hobbs, the current director of the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon, said that the idea was tossed back and forth between her and Perske for a few years.

"We thought it would be a cool thing to do," said Hobbs, "because there really aren't a lot of marathons in the area."

Perske thought the Lake Wobegon Trail was the perfect venue to hold a marathon.

One thing that strikes Hobbs is how the local communities and their residents responded to the marathon.

The responses were very favorable. A local doctor from St. Joseph offered to be the race's medical director, and groups from various towns along the route also volunteered. People in Holdingford volunteered to help with the start and groups like the Avon Women of Today volunteered at water stands along the route.

Albany High School cross county and track coach Kathy Conrad and her track team manned a water station last year, but cannot this year due to a scheduling conflict, so the Albany National Honor Society will be taking over.

Holdingford Mayor Ernie Schmit starts the race every year, while the Albany police make sure a main intersection of the trail with a county road stays safe for the runners

It's that kind of dedication that Hobbs thinks that it is very important. It's a good thing to see communities along the race's route to take ownership of the race as it travels through their town said Hobbs.

The advertising budget is small for the marathon, but word gets out through the race's website, racing lists on running websites, word of mouth, and articles in local papers.

"Our goal is to keep the costs as low as possible for the runners," said Hobbs, "but we want the people in the local towns to be aware of the race, to come down and watch and support the runners."

Prizes are given to all the winners of the various age groups and everyone who runs in the race receives a few items like shirts and medals. New this year for the winners is a watercolor painting by local artist, Doug Lien. The watercolor features scenes from the towns along the route. The prints of this painting will also be available for purchase. The print is featured on the race website.

This year, volunteers will also receive commemorative shirts because the race organizers feel it is important to recognize the value of the volunteers efforts.

"The volunteers are what make the experience for the runners," said Hobbs, "we get so many comments from the runners about how friendly our volunteers are. We want everybody to have fun."

For more information on signing up for the race or to volunteer time or talent, visit the races official website at or email Race Director Sharon Hobbs at

The 26.2-mile race is growing into a very successful event, and its success can only benefit the communities along the Lake Wobegon Trail.