Firecracker 5K Footrace tradition continues

The 42nd annual Fourth of July race drew 408 runners and walkers to Park Rapids' Heartland Park.

The 408 runners and walkers took off from the starting line at Heartland Park to kick off the 42nd annual Firecracker 5K Footrace on Sunday, July 4. Vance Carlson / Enterprise

After COVID forced the annual Park Rapids Firecracker 5K Footrace to go virtual last year, organizers and runners couldn’t be happier with the live return of the race this year.

About 90 runners and walkers signed up for the virtual race last year. That was a financial hit to the Park Rapids boys and girls track and field and boys and girls cross country teams, which use this annual race as their main fundraiser.

The return to a live race for the 42nd annual event drew 408 runners and walkers to Heartland Park on Sunday, July 4. That was a welcome sight for the track and cross country teams.

“It’s exciting. It’s a step back to normalcy,” said Park Rapids head cross country coach Pat Richard. “This has become a rich tradition. It’s a breath of fresh air to see so many people sign up. We’re glad it’s back on.”

“This race is a staple of the community and is a big part of our track and cross country fundraising,” said Corey Hill, the head coach of the Park Rapids girls track and field team. “It’s pretty exciting to have it back in person. Last year was tough. We knew we couldn’t do it in person and had to have a virtual event, but it’s not the same. We didn’t know what to expect this year. We were shooting for 400 and we had 396 pre-register. It’s fun to see all the people back.”


The race in 2019 saw 616 runners and walkers sign up for the annual 5K event, which always starts and ends at Park Rapids’ Heartland Park. The 2019 event featured the fifth biggest turnout over the last decade, trailing the record 780 participants in 2015, 754 in 2014, 716 in 2013 and 638 in 2012.

A total of 203 men and 205 women completed this year’s certified USATF fast course. A kids fun run followed the 5K race.

There were 26 finishers in the male 12-under division, 19 in the female 12-under division, 17 in the male 13-15 age division, 17 in the female 13-15 age division, 14 in the male 16-18 age division, 14 in the female 16-18 age division, 34 in the male 19-29 age division, 35 in the female 19-29 age division, 28 in the male 30-39 age division, 44 in the female 30-39 age division, 41 in the male 40-49 age division, 36 in the female 40-49 age division, 27 in the male 50-59 age division, 21 in the female 50-59 age division, 11 in the male 60-69 age division, 16 in the female 60-69 age division, five in the male 70-over age division and three in the female 70-over age division. Runners from 21 states competed in this year’s Firecracker Footrace.

Complete results can be found at .

Tradition continues

The tradition of participating in this annual race continued for several regulars.

Park Rapids’ Eric Olson took part in the race for the 35th straight year. Olson ran the 5K course the first 32 times, but knee problems have forced him to walk the course the last three years.

“I’ve been working on my speed walking,” said Olson. “I enjoy the people and I want to do it every year. I’m going to keep going until my legs fall off.”

Kenny Miller, a 1995 Park Rapids graduate, has only missed two races since his first one in 1996. The Wadena resident and head coach of the Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale track and field team looks forward to this race every year.


“It’s tradition,” said Miller. “It’s my hometown and it’s good competition. It makes for a fun race.”

This 5K has become a regular event to kick off the Fourth of July for the Jostock clan, which gathers every year at the family cabin at Palmer Lake during this holiday. Tami (Jostock) Fernholz, her husband Scott and their sons Jacob, Ryan and Sam of Sartell have been running in this race for the past eight years. This year, 13 members of the family - including Tami’s sister Laura and her husband Brady Hoag and their children Josh and Kara of Osseo; Tami’s sister Becki Murphy and her children Anna and Joe of Elk River; and Tami’s brother Jon Jostock’s daughter Jordyn of Canby - all competed in this year’s 5K in remembrance of their father and grandfather Dr. Arnie Jostock of Dawson, who lost his battle with prostate cancer in December.

“Arnie loved the Firecracker,” said Arnie’s widow Bonnie Jostock. “They all raced (this year) in honor of their dad and grandpa.”

“It’s a tradition,” said Tami Fernholz. “Our boys were runners (in high school) and used it to train. Now we just do it for fun.”

Chris Boedigheimer of Park Rapids made his Firecracker 5K Footrace debut. Boedigheimer is preparing to compete in the Detroit Lakes Triathlon in August and used this annual race to help get ready for that competition.

“This will be good training to help me get ready for it (the Detroit Lakes Triathlon),” said Boedigheimer. “I’m doing it for fun. We’ll see how it goes.”

Tom Stambaugh, the head coach of the Nevis cross country team, entered this year’s race to help train for the upcoming Twin Cities Marathon and help support the Park Rapids track and cross country programs.

“We have a friendly rivalry with Park Rapids and we support each other,” said Stambaugh. “I’m doing this to 100% help Park Rapids with their fundraiser for track and cross country.”


Theisen leads men

Jordan Theisen of Flagstaff, Arizona, topped Miller to win the men’s title.

Theisen clocked a winning time of 16:10 with Miller following in 16:15. George Bjorklund of Park Rapids was third in 17:53, Brady Rach of Bertha was fourth in 18:07 and Nathaniel Bervig of Park Rapids finished fifth in 18:08.

Age division winners were Grady Lewis of Orono in 22:40 (12-under), Rach (13-15), Bjorklund (16-18), Theisen (19-29), Brandon Lee of Fargo, North Dakota, in 19:15 (30-39), Miller (40-49), John Peterson of Fargo in 21:06 (50-59), Stambaugh in 18:16 (60-69) and Monte Fjosne of Bemidji in 33:23 (70-over).

Following are the top 10 finishers in each age group in the men’s field.

Overall winner: Jordan Theisen, Flagstaff, AZ, 16:10.
12-under: 1, Grady Lewis, Orono, 22:40. 2, Ashel Tnunstentage,r Roseau, 24:22. 3, Tucker Lewis, Orono, 25:27. 4, Pete Tschetter, Stewartville, 25:28. 5, Luke Morlock, Stewartville, 25:31. 6, Owen O’Neill, Edina, 25:54. 7, Devin L’Heureux, West Fargo, ND, 26:17. 8, Jack Mitteness, Park Rapids, 26:25. 9, Jack Peeples, Cohasset, MA, 26:47. 10, Patrick O’Kane, Minnetonka, 27:19.
13-15: 1, Brady Rach, Bertha, 18:07. 2, Blaine Hensel, Park Rapids, 19:16. 3, Preston Miller, Wadena, 20:33. 4, Ephraim Bervig, Park Rapids, 20:43. 5, Dawson Whitels, St. Michael, 21:03. 6, Van Tnunstantager, Roseau, 22:04. 7, Cannon Lewis, Orono, 22:09. 8, Matson Beacom, Hooper, NE, 22:22. 9, Benjamin Wrolstad, Bismarck, ND, 23:21. 10, Thomas Hartung, Park Rapids, 23:46.
16-18: 1, George Bjorklund, Park Rapids, 17:53. 2, Nathaniel Bervig, Park Rapids, 18:08. 3, Eli Bervig, Park Rapids, 18:29. 4, Nathan Smith, Park Rapids, 18:53. 5, Jack Beam, Denver, IA, 19:35. 6, Aden Rach, Bertha, 21:38. 7, Luke Hartung, Park Rapids, 22:36. 8, Ben Giles, Excelsior, 22:45. 9, Tommy Reinwart, Cedar Rapids, IA, 24:53. 10, Owen Wagner, Park Rapids, 25:04.
19-29: 1, Jordan Theisen, Flagstaff, AZ, 16:10. 2, Aiden Biwer, West Fargo, ND, 18:54. 3, Volodymyr Tkachuk, Park Rapids, 19:06. 4, Kolby Brandt, Park Rapids, 19:09. 5, Ronaldo DeLaCruz Gomez, Park Rapids, 19:10. 6, Tyler Hudson Monument, 19:38. 7, John Cowman, International Falls, 20:43. 8, Josh Hoag, Osseo, 21:28. 9, Sam Fernholz, Sartell, 21:41. 10, Jake Fernholz, Sartell, 21:46.
30-39: 1, Brandon Lee, Fargo, ND, 19:15. 2, Andrew Lachowitzer, Park Rapids, 19:35. 3, Karl Stenzel, Ham Lake, 19:45. 4, Jeff Debele, St. Michael, 19:48. 5, Matthew Clasen, St. Louis Park, 19:54. 6, Shane Fickes, Plymouth, 21:49. 7, Andrew Byrnes, Fort Myers, FL, 22:25. 8, Brian Hall, Park Rapids, 22:46. 9, Phillip Siek, Fargo, ND, 22:35. 10, Dustin Syverson, Fargo, ND, 24:32.
40-49: 1, Kenny Miller, Wadena, 16:15. 2, Joshua Warmbold, Clearbrook, 19:34. 3, Shane Hanson, Woodbury, 21:03. 4, Adam Tnunstentager, Roseau, 21:46. 5, Nick Muir, Wayne, NE, 22:28. 6, Mark Roesner, Kennesaw, GA, 22:31. 7, Tom Trygstad, Clive, IA, 22:56. 8, Jacob Morlock, Stewartville, 23:03. 9, Todd Whiteis, S.t. Michael, 23:03. 10, Todd Marsden, Park Rapids, 23:06.
50-59: 1, John Peterson, Fargo, ND, 21:06. 2, Michael Brown, Bloomington, 22:57. 3, Joe Dickie, Lakeville, 23:43. 4, Dave Benson, Park Rapids, 24:03. 5, Mark Andersen, Park Rapids, 24:40. 6, Brion Fornshell, Fort Ripley, 25:01. 7, Matthew Matousek, Eden Prairie, 25:10. 8, Scott Fernholz, Sartell, 25:18. 9, Ian Holmes, Lester Prairie, 25:46. 10, Troy Wangler, Park Rapids, 26:03.
60-69: 1, Tom Stambaugh, Nevis, 18:16. 2, Tim Nelson, Indianola, IA, 25:13. 3, Ken Gabriel, Park Rapids, 26:36. 4, Dale Heinen, St. Paul, 27:07. 5, Mark Hove, Golden Valley, 29:04. 6, Craig Bihrle, Bismarck, ND, 30:16. 7, David Nelson, Macon, GA, 32:21. 8, Tony Kinkel, Stillwater, 40:41. 9, Duane Rutz, Hallock, 54:27. 10, Bob Focht, Spooner, WI, 58:13.
70-over: 1, Monte Fjosne, Bemidji, 33:23. 2, Larry Sowden, Park Rapids, 36:15. 3, Daniel Holm, Park Rapids, 53:11. 4, Frank Richason, Rochester, 55:20. 5, Jim Focht, Spooner, WI, 58:07.

Witkowski leads women

Augie Witkowski of Minneapolis captured the women’s title with a winning time of 20:56.

McKendra Long of Park Rapids was the runner-up in 21:37 while Jennifer Bromeland of Eagle Lake (22:05), Cali Trygstad of Clive, Iowa, (22:09) and Brooke Benson of St. Louis Park (22:15) rounded out the top 5.

Claiming the individual age division titles were Gabrielle O’Neill of Edina in 23:31 (12-under), Adeline Bjorklund of Park Rapids in 22:57 (13-15), Trygstad (16-18), Witkowski (19-29), Karen Roesner of Kennesaw, Georgia, in 23:21 (30-39), Bromeland (40-49), Robyn Hudson of Monument, Colorado, in 26:46 (50-59), Jacqueline Kelly of Fargo in 23:07 (60-69) and Annie Erickson of Park Rapids in 57:53 (70-over).

Following are the top 10 finishers in each age group in the women’s field.

Overall winner: Augie Witkowski, Minneapolis, 20:56.
12-under: 1, Gabrielle O’Neill, Edina, 23:31. 2, Kendra Miller, Wadena, 24:06. 3, Kiley L’Heureux, West Fargo, ND, 27:43. 4, Haven Fjosne, Perham, 28:21. 5, Mackenzie Mack, Park Rapids, 29:06. 6, Jordyn Jostock, Canby, 29:19. 7, Mia Peeples, Cohasset, MA, 29:41. 8, Sara Larson, West Fargo, ND, 31:57. 9, Zadie Lewandowski, Rodgers, AR, 37:38. 10, Ada Dahlseng, Alexandria, 38:13.
13-15: 1, Adeline Bjorklund, Park Rapids, 22:57. 2, Leah Nelson, Chaska, 24:49. 3, Isabelle Warmbold, Clearbrook, 26:21. 4, Joanna Lund, Champlin, 26:50. 5, Sarah Hartung, Park Rapids, 27:37. 6, Lucie Schwanki, Cottonwood, 28:44. 7, Anna Murphy, Elk River, 31:35. 8, Jalen Hensel, Park Rapids, 32:07. 9, Alessia Harmon, Nevis, 32:13. 10, Macy Clark, Stillwater, 36:59.
16-18: 1, Cali Trygstad, Clive, IA, 22:09. 2, Morgan Koppelman, Park Rapids, 22:25. 3, Maelee Beacom, Hooper, NE, 23:10. 4, Kara Hoag, Maple Grove, 24:00. 5, Julia Harmon, Nevis, 24:15. 6, Elena Giles, Excelsior, 28:40. 7, Paris Cronin, Fargo, ND, 28:41. 8, Natalie Evanson, Duluth, 35:23. 9, Holly Johnson, Park Rapids, 37:25. 10, Tori Lucier, Park Rapids, 39:23.
19-29: 1, Augie Witkowski, Minneapolis, 20:56. 2, McKendra Long, Park Rapids, 21:37. 3, Brooke Benson, St. Louis Park, 22:15. 4, Courtney Wirz, Elk River, 23:38. 5, Heather Sterner, Park Rapids, 25:10. 6, Kellyn Pike, Park Rapids, 27:13. 7, Amelia Lund, Champlin, 27:34. 8, Andrea Eystad, Rochester, 27:40. 9, Tarja Neise, Park Rapids, 28:04. 10, Brianne Gruenberg, Moorhead, 28:04.
30-39: 1, Karen Roesner, Kennesaw, GA, 23:21. 2, Nicole Brandt, Park Rapids, 23:30. 3, Melanie Priebe, Park Rapids, 23:59. 4, Alicia Wilkins, Vadnais Heights, 24:31. 5, Maggie Davis, Lincoln, NE, 24:45. 6, Blake Hanson, Minneapolis, 24:58. 7, Kristine Muir, Wayne, NE, 25:00. 8, Amber Lee, Minneapolis, 25:37. 9, Kate Lachowitzer, Park Rapids, 26:24. 10, Steff Peterson, Park Rapids, 26:37.
40-49: 1, Jennifer Bromeland, Eagle Lake, 22:05. 2, Amanda Hanson, Woodbury, 22:48. 3, Katie Clark, Edmond, OK, 22:49. 4, Jill Boder, Maplewood, 24:55. 5, Autumn Nelson, Woodbury, 25:19. 6, Lisa Frame-Koppelman, Park Rapids, 25:29. 7, Amanda Peeples, Cohasset, MA, 25:33. 8, Annie O’Neill, Edina, 25:59. 9, Kasey Morlock, Stewartville, 26:59. 10, Becki Murphy, Elk River, 28:12.
50-59: 1, Robyn Hudson, Monument, CO, 26:46. 2, Mary Byrnes, Fort Myers, FL, 28:33. 3, Ginger Richardson, Steilacoom, WA, 30:35. 4, Dawn Hummel, West Fargo, ND, 30:36. 5, Tami Fernholz, Sartell, 31:28. 6, Michelle Swensen, Eden Prairie, 32:05. 7, Maria Cowman, International Falls, 33:35. 8, Bonnie Craven, Plymouth, 33:41. 9, Megan McGrath, Overland, Park, KS, 33:50. 10, Sheila Muus, Moorhead, 40:19.
60-69: 1, Jacqueline Kelly, Fargo, ND, 23:07. 2, Rhonda Magel, Fargo, ND, 25:51. 3, Joan Lee, Detroit Lakes, 39:49. 4, Connnie Wright, Ira, IA, 36:40. 5, Therese Hjelmgren, Spooner WI, 39:04. 6, Kathy Warmbold, Park Rapids, 41:29. 7, Meg Kind, Mankato, 43:52. 8, Lorri McAdams, Park Rapids, 45:15. 9, Kathy Wilkins, Park Rapids, 48:30. 10, Carolyn Espel, Fargo, ND, 54:21.
70-over: 1, Annie Erickson, Park Rapids, 57:53. 2, Dodie Egge, Park Rapids, 59:25. 3, Mary Garlie, Park Rapids, 1:12.58.

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1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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