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Carlton County girls make strong showing at mile races in Duluth

Esko junior Kailee Kiminski crosses the finish line first in Sunday's Duluth Mile race for semi-elite runners. Kiminski took first place for women in the semi-elite race, followed by Cloquet freshman Anja Maijala. Photo contributed by Esko Pride

Sunday was a good day for Carlton County girls to run in Duluth.

Esko's Kailee Kiminski took first place in the women's Duluth Mile race, coming in at 5 minutes, 22 seconds, according to the Grandma's Marathon website. (Dad Dan Kiminski says the exact time was 5:21.9).

Kiminski, 17, crossed the finish line well ahead of her nearest competitors, taking first place for women (of all ages) in the Duluth Mile and for her 18-and-under female age group. Kiminski is a junior at Esko High School, where she is a multi-sport athlete, running cross country and playing soccer in the fall.

Another Carlton County runner, Anja Maijala, took second place in the mile-long race, coming in nine seconds behind Kiminski, 5:31. Maijala, 14, is a freshman at Cloquet High School, where she participates in cross country, Nordic skiing and track.

Kiminski and Maijala ran in the Duluth Mile race for semi-elite runners, rather than the Minnesota Mile, which is for professional runners and offers $3,000 for both the men's and women's race winner.

Twelve-year-old Kelly Lorenz, a seventh-grader at Cloquet Middle School, won the Verizon Kids Mile girls race with a time of 6:19, with Cloquet's Elise Pickar taking second in 6:24.

No matter what the category -- there is also a wheelchair race and an All City Mile race -- with a northeast wind at their backs, temperatures in the 60s and cheering crowds lining Superior Street from Fitger's to Fourth Street, it was a good day to run.

Gabriele Anderson, a professional runner from Minneapolis, took first place in the Minnesota Mile race for women, with a time of 4:21.3, shattering the previous women's record of 4:35.6. The men's Minnesota Mile winner was Ben Blankenship, 23, of Stillwater, Minn., with a time of 3:52.7.

The Grandma's Marathon website stated the organization's goal is to make the Minnesota Mile one of the premier mile road-races in the United States.