Birthday present: Beating his dad by 1 second
Eagan youth runs half-marathon at Grandma’s on first day he’s eligible
Peter Kaul has run eight marathons since jumping into the sport with both feet in the spring of 2011.
He was all set to enter Grandma’s Marathon until he checked the calendar and saw that it was going to be the same weekend as his oldest son’s 12th birthday.
But he didn’t back out of the event to celebrate Andrew Kaul’s big day. Peter brought Andrew to Duluth – not as a spectator, but as a competitor.
Kaul, an Eagan resident, had no intention of putting his son in the 26.2-mile race, the main event at Grandma’s. But the half-marathon appeared doable for someone who had run a 10-kilometer race and several 5Ks.
So, on the morning of June 16, off they went in the Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon. Andrew was 12 years and 15 minutes old.
“He was born at 6:30 a.m. (June 16, 2000), and the race started at 6:45 a.m. (June 16, 2012),” Peter Kaul said.
Runners in non-youth events at Grandma’s must be at least 12 years old. A Grandma’s Marathon publicist said Andrew Kaul was likely the youngest competitor in the half-marathon or marathon, although there is no reliable way to confirm that because race organizers ask only for date of birth – not time of birth – on the registration form.
The Kauls started together and finished together at Canal Park in Duluth. Andrew’s time was 2 hours, 13 minutes, 51 seconds, one second faster than his father. The half-marathon course is the second half of the Grandma’s Marathon course.
Peter Kaul said that Andrew, not surprisingly, had been mapping out strategies that had him finishing ahead of his father.
In all seriousness, though, “he did great,” Peter Kaul said. “We thought between 2:15 and 2:30 was realistic, based on his times in other races he’s run, and he came in at 2:13.”
Still, it was the longest race Andrew has ever run, and Peter needed to be cognizant of that. They walked up one hill so Andrew could catch his breath and get something to drink before running again.
When he noticed his son’s pace slowing, Peter Kaul appealed to the spectators for help.
“Hey! Got a birthday boy here!” Peter would say, and the spectators would applaud.
It seemed to help, although Kaul said Andrew’s reaction to the encouragement seemed to be, “C’mon, Dad, knock it off,” he said.
His other children, Haley, 14, and Adam, 9, also have done some 5K races, although they haven’t gone into it full-bore like their father. According to athlinks.com, Peter Kaul, 46, has run in 14 distance races already in 2012, including five marathons. He ran two marathons in eight days in Rochester and Minneapolis in late May and early June, and will run a marathon in Iowa next month.
It started because “I was coaching my son’s track team with the Eagan Athletic Association,” he said. “That was a great time, and I used to run, so I started doing laps on the track. Then I started running on the streets, and all of a sudden I was entering races.”
Peter Kaul’s personal best in the marathon is 3:44. He said he could run faster, but then would need more time to recover and couldn’t enter as many races.
“The top marathoners, the ones who really push themselves, usually need about a month to recover after a race,” he said.
Andrew is still assessing running’s place in his life. He spent much of the week following Grandma’s Marathon at a basketball camp at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. He also plays for an Eagan youth lacrosse team coached by his father.
But chances are he’ll run again soon, sometime, somewhere – and probably with his father at his side.