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Pepper Fest footraces attract a large field

Two hundred twenty runners begin the Pepper Fest races Saturday morning, leaving from the festival grounds at the North Hudson Village Hall. Former Hudson High School and collegiate runners Jason Finch, No. 157, and Ryan Meissen, No. 265, won the 5K and 10K races, respectively. They are on the right side of the photo. Photo by Randy Hanson

Jason Finch and Ryan Meissen haven't lost a step since graduating from Hudson High School in the mid-1990s.

Saturday morning, the former Raider track and cross-country stars ran away from their respective fields in the North Hudson Pepper Fest five- and 10-kilometer footraces.

The 34-year-old Finch, now a River Falls resident, completed the 5K in 16 minutes, 14 seconds. He finished a minute and 43 seconds ahead of David Ritter, also of River Falls, who had a time of 17:57.

Another former Hudson High runner, Tommy Datwyler, placed third with a time of 19:05.

Meissen, 33, outpaced his nearest competitor by more than six and a half minutes in the 10K. The former collegiate All-American had a time of 32:09.

Brian Dahl ran the hilly course in 38:48 to finish second, and Jason Ogden was third with a time of 39:19. Dahl (another former Hudson High and collegiate runner) and Ogden both reside in Hudson. Meissen now lives in Mukwonago.

The hometown race was a reunion for Finch (also a college All American) and Meissen who ran together in the 10,000-meter race at 1999 NCAA Division III National Championships. Finch finished second, and Meissen sixth, in that race.

The women

A pair of River Falls High School runners who are headed off to college finished first and second among the women in the 5K.

Lucy Ramquist covered the 3.1 miles in 20:54, seven seconds ahead of former teammate Tia Harris at 21:01.

Kara Meissen, Ryan's wife and a former assistant coach at UW-Whitewater, placed third with a time of 21:09.

Jessica Nederloe won the women's competition in the 10K with a time of 46:38. Katie Alberg placed second (48:14) and Caitlin Carrigan (48:28).

Trophies were awarded to the fastest male and female runners in eight age categories in the 10K.

Winners and times

The winners were:

17 and younger - Mason Unger, 14, River Falls, 53:15; Shannon Hartzell, 16, Hudson, 53:34;

18-29 - Brian Dahl, 24, Hudson, 38:48; Caitlin Carrigan, 22, no hometown listed, 48:28;

30-34 - Ryan Meissen, 33, Mukwonago, 32:09; Jessica Nederloe, 34, no hometown listed, 46:38;

35-39 - Jason Ogden, 38, Hudson, 39:19; Terryl Strohbusch, 37, Hudson, 48:59;

40-49 - John Bergman, 48, River Falls, 46:51; Kelly Pfannenstein, 44, Hudson, 52:08;

50-59 - John Morchinek, 51, Stillwater, Minn., 46:35; Sue Dahm, 52, Hudson, 57:19;

60-69 - Gary Porter, 60, Hudson, 52:31;

70 and older - Del Yndestad, 75, Hudson, 1:09:52; Vera Yndestad, 73, Hudson, 1:28:10.

The turnout was one of the largest in the 31 years of the Pepper Fest footraces.

One hundred seventy-one runners completed the 5K and 49 finished the 10K.

Race organizer Scott Sippel said posting information and race entry forms on websites for runners has greatly increased participation in recent years.

See the attached Photo Gallery for more pictures of the event.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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