Blue Ox Half Marathon-Minnesota
Updated: Oct 31
Half Marathon State #49 was in Bemidji, Minnesota on Saturday October 8th, 2022. Although Bemidji has a small airport it was more feasible for us to fly into Minneapolis and drive the three and a half hours north. It was the start of a 13-day trip that would encompass two states and our last two half marathons.
Since it was the beginning of October the autumn colors were starting to peak making the drive very scenic. We arrived two days before the race on Thursday and checked into our bed and breakfast, Lake Bemidji Bed and Breakfast. Coincidentally, the bed and breakfast is owned by an elite marathon runner from the early 80's, Dick Beardsley and his wife, Jill. It was only about 1.5 miles from the starting line as well, so a perfect place to stay for us.
On Friday we headed to the Sanford Center to pick up our race packets. They were having the 5k, 10k and Kid's Fun Run that evening so there was lot going on. It was well organized with a few venders and a coffee truck in the front. We bought a wooden race ornament from two kids who had a booth. Our swag bag was a handy insulated tote. We also received a dri-fit unisex long sleeve shirt. (I ended up wearing it under my running vest for the race), a voucher for a free 10oz beer at Bemidji Brewing and $10 voucher tickets to the Bemidji State University hockey game for either Friday or Saturday night.
After packet pickup we decided to eat at Tutto Bene in downtown Bemidji. Luckily, we arrived early because we didn't make a reservation. The restaurant was small and very popular. By the time we finished our dinner it had filled up. We started with the crispy shrimp appetizer, and it was delicious! Since they didn't have lasagna for Dave he opted for the Spaghetti and Meatballs. I decided on the Wild Snow Crab Ravioli. And we finished it up with Tiramisu. We also took an extra order of Spaghetti and Meatballs back to the bed and breakfast for after the race. Dinner was a little expensive but very good.
Now, for the race. The Bemidji Blue Ox Half Marathon is named in honor of Babe the Blue Ox. You might know Babe as Paul Bunyan's pet ox. Legend has it that both Paul Bunyan and Babe originated in Bemidji, MN. Saturday's races consisted of a Full Marathon, Half Marathon and 26k aka Loop Around the Lake. The Half Marathon had a cap of 400 runners and the price started at $60 if you signed up early and $90 for the procrastinators who waited until the day before the race to sign up.
On race day 298 half marathon runners entered about 6 or 7 school buses located at the Sanford Center at 8:30am. We were bused 3 miles north to our starting line. Since the temperature was in the low 40's that morning, we were told that the runners had the option to stay on the buses until just before the starting time of 9am. Well, when the buses stopped everyone except for Dave and myself exited the bus. After only a few minutes and some pressure from the other bus drivers who wanted to get the heck out of there, we decided to exit the bus as well and brave the cold.
The route was beautifully scenic as we started the race on the Paul Bunyan Trail for the first 2 1/2 miles before entering Lake Bemidji State Park. We ran on a paved trail through the trees and around the lake. There were water stations scattered approximately every 2 miles with either a porta-potty or park bathroom close by. For most of the race we could see Lake Bemidji partially obstructed through the trees. There was only about a quarter of a mile where it was beautifully unobstructed.
As we exited the park entrance at mile 8 a bald eagle majestically flew over our heads, one of many that we saw during our trip. We ran through the Bemidji State University campus and at mile 11, we passed in front of our bed and breakfast that was nicely decorated for Halloween. The last mile had us passing in front of the statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe before finishing back at the Sanford Center.
After collecting our medals we headed back to take a picture with Paul & Babe. Later that afternoon we collected on our free beer at the brewery before heading back to the Sanford Center for the Bemidji State hockey game!
State #49 complete! Only one more left to go!