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Strawberry Fest: Record number run in annual 5K

A record number of runners and walkers took part in this year's Strawberry Fest 5K and kid's 1-mile run at Kingston Park.1 / 4
Jacob Nelson was one of 17 kids who participated in the 1-mile run at Strawberry Fest on Saturday.2 / 4
Markos Tsegame was the kids 1-mile race winner.3 / 4
Barb Johnson gets high fives from fans as she heads toward the finish line of the 5K run.4 / 4

Some ominous weather did little to dampen spirits at this year's Strawberry Fest.

A record number of runners and walkers took part in this year's Strawberry Fest 5K and kid's 1-mile run at Kingston Park on Saturday, June 16. In all, 145 runners and 13 walkers competed in the 5K and another 17 kids participated in the 1-mile run. It was the sixth consecutive year the events have been part of Strawberry fest.

"Everything worked out perfectly," said Molly Pietruszewski, City of Cottage Grove Parks and Recreation Program Coordinator. "We had a little rain after the 5K and before the kids' race, so it couldn't have been more perfectly timed. It worked out great."

In the race, new champions were crowned for a second-straight year.

Jonathan McDonough was the top male finisher and Renee Oxford was the fastest female finisher in the race, held on a cloudy, but dry morning on Saturday at Kingston Park.

McDonough finished the 3.1-mile race in a time of 19 minutes, 13 seconds - well ahead of second-place finisher Brett Sullivan, who had a time of 20:31. Oxford was the first female to cross the finish line, edging Annalisa Low, who had a time of 21.35. Last year, Brian Doemier won the race with a time of 18:55 and the top female finisher was Brooke Anderson with a time of 21:36. Doemier and Anderson didn't take part in this year's event.

Pietruszewski has managed the event since its beginning six years ago. She said about 50 people participated in the first Strawberry Fest 5K and it's grown almost every year. Because of the ballooning number of racers, she said they would likely have to hire someone to professionally time the event next year.

"It just keeps kind of going in the right direction," Pietruszewski said. "With the numbers we're getting this is probably the last year we can do the tag-timing. Everything went perfectly this year, but when you get that many runners there's so much room for error."

Sports have always been a part of Strawberry Fest -- and, in 2012, foul weather didn't cause many problems, allowing festival goers to partake in all the events.

In addition to the 5K and 1-mile run, sporting events at this year's Strawberry Fest included the Cottage Grove Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament, on Tuesday, June 12; the Cottage Grove vs. St. Paul Park public safety softball game on Friday, June 15, at the Lamar Softball Complex; the men's and co-ed softball tournaments and home run derby on Saturday, June 16, at Lamar; and the third-annual NFL Punt, Pass and Kick competition, sponsored by Cottage Grove Athletic Association football on Saturday, June 16, at Kingston Park.

See additional photos in the June 20 issue of the Bulletin