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WILD HOG HALF MARATHON: Devin Monson back to defend his title

Right out of college, Devin Monson was content to be an assistant track and field coach at UND. That was a year ago. Times have changed, however. Monson now has his focus on the 2016 Olympic Trials, where his goal is to qualify for the Olympic Ga...

Devin Monson
With no other runners in sight Devin Monson, the winner of the Wild Hog Grand Forks Half marathon, extends his lead as he runs along DeMers Ave. in downtown Grand Forks Saturday morning. Herald photo by John Stennes. 2012

Right out of college, Devin Monson was content to be an assistant track and field coach at UND.

That was a year ago. Times have changed, however.

Monson now has his focus on the 2016 Olympic Trials, where his goal is to qualify for the Olympic Games in the 5K and 10K races.

To reach that goal, events like the Wild Hog Half Marathon -- scheduled Saturday in Grand Forks -- can only help a runner like Monson, a former Thompson, N.D., athlete who went on to a standout track career at Hamline University.

Monson won last year's Wild Hog Half Marathon and is the favorite to repeat this year. His winning time in 2012 was 1 hour, 10.13 seconds. He hopes to cut that time by roughly five seconds this year.

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After winning last year's inaugural race, Monson competed in a 10-mile race in the Twin Cities. It was there that his quest for an Olympic berth began in earnest.

A month or so after that event, he joined the Rogue Athletic Club -- a post-collegiate training and support group in Austin, Texas, for middle distance and distance runners looking to take competitive running to the next level.

It's a club that Monson hopes will help him reach the 2016 Olympic Trials and beyond.

Monson has been in Austin since last November and now runs 100 miles each week. In addition, he works out three times a week.

"It was hard to get into a groove in Grand Forks," Monson said. "You have to be around people that think like you do. I love the atmosphere down here. It's like being on another college team. There is a big community of runners that come here to train."

In addition to the Wild Hog, Monson said he hopes to compete in other big races for more recognition.

The temperature in Austin on Tuesday was 95 degrees. But the weather in Texas generally is conducive to running and the city has become a hotbed for competitive runners.

"The weather is great down here," he said.

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Last year, Monson won the Wild Hog in near-perfect weather conditions. On Saturday, the forecast in Grand Forks calls for a high of 57 degrees with a 30 percent chance of rain -- conditions that should favor fast times.

More than 2,000 runners are expected to compete in the half marathon, 10K and 5K races. Last year, there were approximately 700 runners in the half marathon.

Besides Monson, another favorite will be Kyle Downs, a Grand Forks runner who finished two seconds off the pace last year.

Monson's serious training will be a factor in the race, said Richard Dafoe, the race director.

"Devin is in a position to run faster," he said. "He's looking great. And I'm excited to see if he can break his course record."

After the Wild Hog, Monson will continue to train and race in hopes of reaching his Olympic dream.

"Before last year's race, I was content to be an assistant coach at UND," Monson said. "But I have the rest of my life to coach. You have only so long to pursue an Olympic dream."

Nelson reports on sports. Call him at (701) 780-1268; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1268; or send e-mail to wnelson@gfherald.com .

Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.


He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.



He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.



Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or wnelson@gfherald.com.
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