NEENAH – Like a lot of runners, the anticipation of competing in the Community First Fox Cities Marathon has been building for almost two years for Matt Kasten.
The 36-year-old Harrison resident finally got the chance Sunday, and he made the most of it by winning the race in an unofficial time of 2 hours, 41 minutes, 35 seconds.
The 30th running of the event took place as an in-person event for the first time since 2018. It was canceled in 2019 because of a storm that hit the Fox Cities about an hour before the start of the race and was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was great. I’m a local, so it feels really good to win the hometown race,” Kasten said. “I’ve been trying to run this one for two years and keep getting set back, but really happy to have a great day today.”
Kasten, who works at Amcor, said he was running his seventh full marathon. He has competed in the Fox Cities half marathon previously but was running his hometown marathon for the first time.
Kasten won by about eight minutes over Michael Friedman, an Oconto Falls native who lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. Friedman finished second with an unofficial time of 2:49:23.
“That was the goal to win, but you never know who’s going to show up,” Kasten said. “So you just got to do your best. I’m glad it worked out.”
The temperature was in the upper 50s when runners started at 7 a.m. and climbed into the low 80s. Marathon officials added extra water and misting stations on the course and encouraged spectators along the course to shower runners with water.
Kasten said he took advantage of the extra water stations.
“Every one of them,” he said.
Kasten was feeling the effects of the heat and the miles but was able to push through.
“My feet were a little torn up, but otherwise it feels pretty great,” he said. “My quads cramped a little, but I finished with a smile on my face so I’m happy.”
Friedman, 25, was running his first “official” marathon. He ran with some former college teammates who signed up and convinced him to run.
“I kind of wanted to get out more conservatively and see how well I could finish,” he said. “I didn’t want to go out too fast because then I would have probably blown out towards the end. … It feels good to be able to accomplish the distance for the first time.”
Bulat Turner top female
Elizabeth Bulat Turner lives in Atlanta, but she felt right at home at the Fox Cities Marathon.
The 39-year-old Bulat Turner was the top female finisher in the marathon with an unofficial time of 3:13:35. Her husband, Steven, is from Neenah and her in-laws live across from Riverside Park in Neenah near the finish line.
“I feel like I’m running home when I run the race, so it’s really cool,” she said. “It feels amazing. I’ve never won a marathon before. I’ve won some shorter races, but this is my first marathon win. So it’s really awesome.
“I love this race. Your local fans are so nice. It’s not the biggest race I’ve ever run, but I really think it has the best fans for a smaller race. It’s amazing.”
Bulat Turner, who said she has run about 10 full marathons, got inspiration on the course from her two children.
“I was suffering,” she said. “I was grimacing and I saw my kids and I’m like ‘hey’ and I gave them a high-five.”
Bulat Turner had no expectations before the race, but was hoping training in the heat in Georgia would give her an edge.
“I knew it was going to be hot,” she said. “I thought being from Atlanta I might have an advantage over some of the Wisconsin folks, but I didn’t know. I tried to do as well as I could.”
Katie Renz of Appleton was the second female finisher with an unofficial time of 3:22:31.
Schubert wins half marathon
Dan Schubert was excited to run in front of family and friends again, and it showed.
The 28-year-old Appleton native cruised to a nine-minute victory in the ThedaCare Half Marathon.
Schubert, who graduated from Appleton East in 2011 and ran in college at the University of Oklahoma, finished in an unofficial time of 1:05:51.
“It was fantastic. The course was awesome this morning. The weather was great,” Schubert said. “A lot of people out supporting this morning. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. Really just a pleasure to run here and be in front of friends and family. Just a great time overall.”
Schubert, who lives in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and works as a supply chain analyst at Ascension, was out front the whole way. Paul Gutmann of Franklin finished second in 1:14:51.
“It is a little lonely. I would have liked to have a little bit of company,” Schubert said. “It would have been a lot lonelier had people not been lining the course cheering. I had a great cheering section and didn’t mind it too much.”
Schubert was running only his second half marathon. He beat his previous best time by about two minutes. He has never run a full marathon.
“This is something I really enjoy doing. I enjoy running. It’s a good hobby to have,” he said. “Eventually I’ll continue to do half marathons and maybe one day run a full. Maybe I’ll do it here.”
Winning the half marathon on his home course was special for Schubert, who gave credit to his family and longtime Appleton East coach Joe Perez for inspiring his running passion. Perez passed away in 2018.
“What I really wanted to do is come home, be with friends and family, just give it a go here. Appleton means a lot to me,” he said. “All my family were runners. I ran for Joe Perez at Appleton East. He passed a few years ago, so it definitely means a lot to come back here and kind of honor him. And really all of Appleton. It’s just a great city.”
Schubert said he was going to celebrate his victory with Culver’s and “maybe a couple beers.” He’s also going to the Green Bay Packers game against the Detroit Lions on Monday.
Moore top female in half
Cheyenne Moore of Oshkosh was the top female finisher in the half marathon in 1:17:09.
The 25-year-old Moore, who grew up in Rockford, Illinois, graduated from UW-Oshkosh in 2018. She is a labor and delivery nurse at Oshkosh Mercy Hospital.
Like Schubert, she was running only her second half marathon.
“It feels good. I’ve been training pretty well for the last six months. It was fun and it paid off,” she said. “I wanted to run sub 1:18, so I was kind of focusing on that pace. I felt a little better, so I went a little faster.”
Being the top female finisher was important for Moore.
“It shows that women are dope,” she said with a laugh.
Moore was also excited to be able to return to competitive racing after the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out so many events the past year.
“It was awesome. It was so nice to have an event like this again,” she said. “You know, you missed it the last two years.”
Katie Gellings of North Fond du Lac was the second female finisher in the half marathon in an unofficial time of 1:26:59.
Contact Mike Sherry at (920) 996-7244 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeSherry14.