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A first time finisher at Grandma's: Hochsprung youngest male finisher at Duluth marathon

Alexandria's Cameron Hochsprung wears his medal around his neck and holds up his Grandma's Marathon finisher t-shirt. At 13 years old, Hochsprung was the youngest male finisher at the 2016 race. (Contributed)1 / 2
Cameron Hochsprung and his mom, Susan Anderson, and dad, Tim Hochsprung, pose for a photo with their finishing medals after the Grandma's Marathon on June 18. (Contributed)2 / 2

Alexandria's Cameron Hochsprung's first Grandma's Marathon experience came before he was ever even born.

His mother, Susan Anderson, had decided she was going to run the marathon in 2002. Then she and her husband, Tim Hochsprung, got pregnant with their first child. Susan ultimately decided against running her first marathon that year, but she and Tim made the trip to Duluth anyway.

The 26.2-mile races are an event for runners and spectators alike, and the couple wanted to take in the occasion. Little did they know that it would eventually lead to now 14 marathons being run between the two and the son that was along for the ride.

"We went up there anyway, so Cameron's first marathon was when she was pregnant with him," Tim said. "I had never really run long distance either, but we were up there seeing all these people running by and there's all types from young to old, to different body types, and I saw some guys going by and thought, 'I could do that.' The next year, Susan and I both signed up to run it and Cameron was 1 when we both went up there."

Tim is now a veteran of 10 marathons and Susan has finished three. Grandma's has been their race of choice with Tim having run seven of his races in Duluth.

It had been a couple years since he had last participated, but the 2016 race on June 18 was the event's 40th anniversary. Tim turned 40 years old this year, which was incentive enough to run again.

His commitment to signing up started a trickle effect in the family. Cameron, now 13 years old and an eighth grader this next school year, told Tim he would run it with him. If Cameron was going to run, Susan was too.

So the family set out to run a race they wouldn't soon forget. Every runner enters with their own goals in mind, whether it's a certain time or simply finishing. This year's run was more about the latter for the family.

"I was terrible," Susan said with a laugh when asked about a limited training schedule leading up to the race. "This was probably my worst year ever. For me, it was just a mind over matter thing. I knew I could finish, but I wasn't trying to break any records obviously. It was just that we were all signed up and going to do this together."

Tim didn't push himself as much as he had in other races because of a knee injury he suffered a couple years ago. He finished in 5:32:42.

Cameron's goal was pretty straightforward — to beat his father. He did that with a time of 4:47:30, and in doing so, he became the youngest male finisher at this year's race.

Cameron was 38th out of 60 males in his 12-18-year-old age category, the majority of those being 17 or 18 years old.

"From about 16 [miles] onward it started hurting all over," he said. "I did slow down quite a bit. I walked a lot because my side hurt. The last couple miles I started running more because I wanted to look good. I crossed the finish line and immediately doubled over."

Cameron was the second youngest finisher out of the 7,522 racers who crossed the finish line. Twelve-year-old Emily Bradshaw of Sandstone was the youngest.

Cameron is in track and field through school where he runs the mile and 800-meter races, along with competing in the triple jump. He let that be his training for much of his preparation for the marathon.

His longest training run was 12 miles a couple weeks before the event. His parents knew they wouldn't be keeping up with Cameron during the race, so they discussed ahead of time what to do to get through.

"We talked about things like use every water stop and make sure if they're offering fruit or food that you take advantage of that," Susan said. "He's been up there so much and seen so much of it that it wasn't like it was a totally unfamiliar thing."

Taking in the proper food and liquids was especially important at this year's race. Temperatures in the 80s and high humidity led to black flag warnings by 11:30 a.m., which indicate extremely high risk for heat stress.

"It's really challenging running when it's really hot like that," Tim said. "I'm more so impressed that he did it in those conditions."

Cameron drank about three glasses of water or Powerade per stop, while eating as much as he could and taking power gels to help him find energy at the end.

He had the normal aches and pains that most marathoners go through, but was no worse for the wear. They ran the race on Saturday, drove home on Sunday and Tim and Cameron left for the Boundary Waters on Monday morning.

"Very proud of him," Susan said. "Very proud of him for a bunch of reasons. His age, the weather conditions and just having the mental fortitude to do it at that young of an age and in those conditions is impressive to me. I think anybody who's done it would say it's a tough race. To be able to keep your head in the game is the hardest part, especially the last six, eight miles."

Cameron didn't seemed fazed by it, at least when looking back on it a few weeks later. He got the first marathon out of the way at an early age, and it won't be his last.

"Yes, I want to run another one," he said. "I might run one with my aunt and then I want to do the Grandma's Marathon next year, even though I had said I'll do it every 10 years."

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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