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Speedy Smith finishes among Grandma’s elite

Kyle Smith of Wright makes running look easy as he works his way through the crowded field at last Saturday’s Grandma’s Marathon to become the top local finisher. Contributed Photo

Owning four state championships in their tiny town’s nine-man football history, most boys at Cromwell-Wright High School choose to put on the pads come fall.

Even Kyle Smith did so as a Cardinals seventh-grader back in 1999, but that lasted only a couple of practices.

“I was standing around mostly,” recalled Smith, now 27. “I went to running, and I guess I haven’t stopped.”

Nothing stopped Smith last Saturday when he ran a personal-best time of 2 hours, 31 minutes, 54 seconds at the 38th Annual Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth. His incredibly-fast mark for 26.2 miles finished him an amazing 47th overall among 7,964 racers, while he was only several Minnesota natives behind the top, statewide.

Smith graduated from Cromwell-Wright in 2005, having run both cross country and track full-time from seventh grade, forgoing football spikes for running shoes. Smith, who ran competitively in both sports at the College of St. Scholastica, said his mother, Sheryl, got him hooked on it and he hasn’t yet slowed down.

“I just love doing it,” Kyle said by phone Tuesday from his home in Silver Bay. “I just love everything about it.”

Smith said he has run 14 marathons, including 10 Grandmas, since his first as a 16-year-old when he ran his first Grandmas. A first-year member of the Northwoods Running Club now, his marathon time last week was nearly four minutes faster than one he’s ever clocked previously.

“He takes his running very seriously — he follows it to a T,” Sheryl said of her elite-fast son. “He gets in his zone.”

That zone was perhaps questionable the day before, as Sheryl explained her son worked a 12-hour shift Friday at Minnesota Power, and wasn’t sure if he’d race his best.

Just 29 minutes, 48 seconds off of Kenya’s Dominic Ondoro’s race-record pace, it seems Smith was just fine.

“I was very happy with how I ran,” Kyle added.

Greeting their son at the Canal Park finish line last week were Sheryl and her husband, Dan, who said they haven’t missed one of Kyle’s marathon races over the years.

“He’s been running forever,” Dan said. “We’ve been to every one of them.”

With Grandmas close to home, Kyle said he wants to continue running it, with other events, as long as he can.

He’s also honest about his once brief football career.

“It was a day or two,” he said. “It just wasn’t for me.”