On Nov. 7, the St. Olaf men’s and women’s cross country teams hosted an event that can be considered both intense and bizarre – the annual Great Karhu Shoe Race. The event, which puts St. Olaf and Carleton College runners in a head-to-head battle, involves all team members who will not be competing in the NCAA Division-III Central Region Championships next weekend. It was a mixed day for the Oles, with the men’s team overcoming their opponents 37-18 and the women’s team falling short 22-33.
The race has an intriguing history. It is believed that the event started in 1972when the Carleton cross country coach at the time, Bill Huyks, needed runners to test a course on which he planned to host the Midwest Conference championship meet. The championship meet only permitted seven runners to compete, so Huyks and St. Olaf coach Bill Thornton agreed to run their remaining athletes on the day preceding the normal conference race. As a trophy, they decided to include a pair of $10 Karhu-brand shoes. The event has been held every year since.
Following a spectacular MIAC Championship victory on Nov. 2, the Ole men were looking to continue their recent domination of Carleton in the challenge, and they did not disappoint, scoring a comfortable 19-point victory.
Stefan Lemke ’14 led the way for the Oles, finishing the race in 26:53, followed closely by Colton Rod ’15 who was just ten seconds behind. The Oles had eight of the event’s top ten finishers. While the Oles wore their regular competition uniforms, the Knights competed in costume, a long-standing tradition at this festive year-end event.
Unfortunately for the St. Olaf women, they were unable to overcome Carleton for the second time in the space of a week. The Knights came away with a 33-22 victory.
This year is believed to be the first time in team history that Carleton has won both the MIAC Championships and the Karhu Shoe Race in the same season. Carleton’s Claire Trujillo ’17 captured the individual title with a time of 15:32.
Both St. Olaf and Carleton will now turn their attention to the NCAA central regionrace, which the Oles will host on Nov. 16.