The 3 Amigos Tackle the Med-City Marathon

Reprinted from the Sept/Oct 2008 issue of NER

The Med-City
Marathon, Rochester, Minnesota‰ÛÓ

by The 3 Amigos


After a
business meeting and dinner at the University Club in Providence, RI (yes, the
Amigos actually have real jobs) we’re off to Fenway Park for a day game against
the Kansas City Royals followed the next morning by our next
adventure‰ÛÓRochester, Minnesota to do the Med-City Marathon.


It’s a great
day at Fenway. Boston is still aglow from the John Lester no hitter. After a
few burgers and sweet potato fries we make our way across the street to box
seats halfway between third base and the green monster.

A no hitter happens
with greater frequency than a grand slam
. Today, we are treated to two grand
slams compliments of J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell. The Sox hang on to win 11 to 8.
From here they are heading out on the road and so are the Amigos.


We take a
direct flight out of Logan to St. Paul, just two and a half hours. Rochester is
70 miles to the south. We pick up our rental car and, once again, we’ve brought
Bettie along for the ride. She gets us past the congestion and on the right
track for Rochester. After passing some beautiful farmland we are at our host
hotel, The Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Rochester, population 100,000.


Rochester is
home to the renowned Mayo Clinic. Patients and Doctors come from all over the
world to find hope and a cure here at the Mayo. This entire city is connected
to this medical community. Out of the population of 100,000 there are close to
50,000 people employed by the Mayo; hence, the “Med-City Marathon.”


Hey, it’s
lunch time! A hot tip takes us to Newt’s. Newt’s famous burgers are perennially
voted “Best Burgers” in Rochester. We opt for the peanut butter burger• covered
with creamy peanut butter and hardwood smoked hickory bacon. A great treat for
the arteries! We wash this down with a few Summit’s, brewed here in Minnesota.
We decide we better walk some of this off so we set out to explore Rochester.


Rochester is connected by a pedestrian skyway/subway system. What a good way to
stay out of the sub-freezing temps in the winter. Rochester is consistently
chosen as one of the most livable cities in America.


The number
pickup is at a local running store, “The Running Room,” just a short walk from
our hotel. We get a printed copy of the marathon’s headphone policy in our
packet. “If you are observed wearing headphones, your bib number will be noted
and you will be DISQUALIFIED”. The next thing we pull out is a manufacturer’s
coupon for “Budfits,” the most secure and comfortable way to wear your iPod
earbuds. Isn’t this like Anheuser-Busch sponsoring an AA meeting?


discarding just about everything, we have a •dinner meeting’ over martinis at
Chester’s Kitchen and Bar. We are told that “Dos Amigos” is the best restaurant
in Rochester for authentic Mexican food. The Three Amigos pile into Dos Amigos
and order the “Special”‰ÛÓa pitcher of margaritas and the burritos rancheros. Now
it’s back to the hotel to cheer on the Celtics. It’s been a great first day.


After three
trips at an all-you- can-eat breakfast we are ready to head out for a day of
exploring. When we think of the Mississippi River we think about New Orleans or
St. Louis or Memphis, not Minnesota. I guess we missed that day in geography
class. From Rochester it’s just about an hour ride over to Winona and the
Mississippi. Back in the 1800’s Winona was a full- fledged river town with a
population of 300. Wheat was the money crop.


Our next stop
along the Great River Road is the Town of Wabasha, the oldest continuous city
in Minnesota. Mark Twain described the town as the “City of the Healing
Waters.’ We may want to investigate this post-race. In 2007, Wabasha was chosen
as the most romantic spot in Minnesota by USA Today
, and, another reason to come back!


Our final stop
is Lake City, population 5052, on Lake Pepin. In 1966, The American Waterskiing
Association recognized Lake City as the birthplace of Water Skiing. They have
its inventor, Ralph W. Samuelson, to thank for that. There’s no one on the lake
today, it’s way too windy.


Speaking of
wind, we hear a forecast for tornadoes in the Rochester area tomorrow. The
Midwest has been slammed with many more tornadoes this season. Yes, that would
count as a valid reason for not showing up tomorrow. Although, we bet we would
run a lot faster if we saw a twister heading our way.


The road back
to Rochester is named the Laura Ingalls Wilder Highway. She grew up in this
area that became the basis for her book, “Little House in the Big Woods.” We
wonder if this is the same Laura that “Little House on the Prairie” was all
about? They also named a park after her and a weekend celebration.


We start off
our day with an all-you-can-eat breakfast. We’ll end our day with an
all-you-can-eat pasta buffet! Its not about the run, it’s about all the eating
we get to do. Hey, we have to load up for the marathon. The dinner is not
included in the entry but its only $7. The entry fee is only $20 so it’s a
great deal!


The marathon
is a point-to-point course. The first bus leaves at 5:00 am on a 10-mile ride
to the 7:00 am start. We got out of bed at 5:30 and catch the last bus is at
6:20. The race starts in Byron and the course looks like a piece of ribbon
candy, a couple of miles of big rolling hills. Actually, it’s 8-miles of
rolling hills before we flatten out. The first couple of miles form a loop
around a country club. The first big hill takes us back across the starting


Along with 300
or so marathoners we are joined by about another 400 halfers and 100 relay
teams. There are also a bunch of runners doing a 20-mile run. This is the
second time this year we’ve seen this. Not a bad idea to hook up with a lot of
company to do your long training run. It’s going to get pretty lonely after the
half. We do run by the finish line for a different second half. We hook up with
a guy from Luck, Wisconsin. This is his 19th marathon and a tune-up for the
Madison, Wisconsin Ironman. We have always said that they make them extra tough
in the Midwest. Anyway, we hope he brings us luck today.


So far the
weather is perfect. We just hope the predicted rain and tornadoes hold off.

There is a pretty good wind blowing. After we say
good-bye to the half marathoners we are directed onto a bike path. We will stay
on the path for just about the entire last half. The aid stations are every 2-miles
and are manned by very friendly and enthusiastic volunteers.


The Amigo’s
signed up to do this marathon just because it fit our schedule. What a great
surprise. This is a gem of a race, a great course, great administration, great
volunteers and a good time of year to be in the Midwest.


Finally, we
can see the giant •ear of corn’ water tower. We are done. We pick up our
finisher’s shirt‰ÛÓa good one, no advertising, just the name and date of the
race. We head directly from the finish line to the hotel to the airport.


It’s been
another great trip for the Amigos. Our next trip, Alaska! Yes, Alaska. This has
been a long-time dream of the Amigos. We hope to see you in Anchorage!



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