Saturday, May 26th - Kids Friday, May 25th

The Apple Story

May 25th, 2017

Thousands of runners and bikers have become part of the legacy of the Sartell Apple Duathlon. The event has grown over the years and enriched the lives of many. The Apple has appealed to all types of athletes: beginners to elites. Local families and friends have experienced the inspiration the Apple provides to be active and healthy, and grow as a community. Competitive and elite athletes have come from right here at home but also from many other parts of the United States to be part of this special race.

The original Apple Run, founded in 1983 by Rich Schwegel and Daryl Stevens, started out as part of a heart health promotion program through the St. Cloud Hospital. Participants had the option of running or wheeling 8 miles or 2 miles. The inaugural 8-mile run celebrated 66 finishers. The event was held in the fall, apple harvesting season, at our beautiful St. Cloud Whitney Park and strongly encouraged family participation. Much of the event at that time was centered around education with various mini-workshops on health topics. With Rich being a registered dietitian and the Director of Nutrition Services, nutrition was an integral part of the program. Another education component included injury prevention from expert physical therapist, Tom Peterson.

Every year the race expanded to reach more people at various levels of health and physical abilities. In 1984, the Apple Run added a 1-mile walk to the event, and had over 100 participants. The wellness clinic also expanded to include body fat testing and computerized nutrition and physical fitness assessments. Even more exciting for its time was the keynote speaker Dr. Andy Jacobs, then sports psychologist for the US National and Olympic Cycling teams. Dr. Jacobs presented on “Sports Psychology for Athletic Performance”.

Another thrilling development took place in 1985 with the addition of the biking component of the race! The bike race was 16 miles long, and was paired with a starting 5-mile run. Because of the new course, the race moved to a different starting location at Westwood Elementary in St. Cloud, and remained at this location for a few years. Changes continued to take place that would eventually shape the event to look more like it does today including adding a separate bike race. The run-bike event remained and was coined biathlon to give it its own identity as a two-part event. Back then, all registrations were done on paper and by mail, and were only $8.00! Do you wear a watch or other device when you run? One of the rules during the early years of this event was that runners were not allowed to wear a watch.

With America’s growing interest in running, the Apple began to attract not only elite athletes, but also famous athletes! Here is an excerpt from the press release announcing the event in 1989: As the number of participants grew, so did the need for more space. In 1990, the course moved to St. Francis School in Sartell – a little closer to its current home. Along with a location change, the leadership of the event also changed. In its first restructuring in 1987, the event fell under the direction of the Corporate Health Systems Institute division of the St. Cloud Hospital. With its second restructuring in 1992, the Apple Run was no longer funded by any department of the St. Cloud Hospital. Rich Schwegel and Daryl Stevens, original founders and lovers of running, were bound and determined not to let the Apple die. Rich and Daryl worked with the YMCA Board of Directors and encouraged the organization to adopt the Apple event. It was a good fit, and the Apple continued to grow and attract new athletes both locally and nationwide.

In 1994, Rich stepped down from his role as co-director of the Apple and leadership was assumed in full by Daryl and his new bride, Pam. As elite athletes and regular Apple participants, Pam and Daryl are well known by Apple participants in their race director position of 20+ years. With their vision and passion, the event continued to grow and moved to an even bigger venue: the Sartell High School (now the Sartell Middle School) where it still resides today. The name of the event changed to duathlon so as not to be confused with the skiing and shooting Olympic biathlon events. The structure also changed to a run-bike-run format and became much more competitive as more elite athletes started to participate. Pam and Daryl Stevens marked 2008 as their final year as race directors. The Apple is the event it is today because of their dedication.

More recently in 2009 and 2013, the Sartell Apple Duathlon, under the directorship of Brandon Testa, was a World Duathlon Championship qualifying race bringing multiple elite athletes. An excerpt from the 2013 Qualification Process: The Apple has also been part of the Gear West Midwest Duathlon Series.

After the 5 years under Brandon’s leadership, the Apple thanks Adam Konczewski and Lisa Bollinger for 3 years of dedication and service as co-directors.

Currently in its 35th year, the Apple is again under new leadership. Julia Krengel may be new in her position as race director, but she is certainly not new in her vast experience with track and field sports as well as being an 8-year triathlete and a former participant of the Sartell Apple Duathlon.

The Sartell Apple Duathlon is dubbed Minnesota’s oldest multi-sport event! If you have been part of our past traditions and events, thank you. If you have a story to tell to help fill the gaps of this historical account, please share. It takes a village to keep a legacy alive. The hope and dream of the Sartell community and the current volunteer Board of Directors is that the Apple legacy continue for many years to come!

Kari Collett, Sartell Apple Duathlon Volunteer Board Member

To submit your Apple story or account of events, email racedirectors@appleduathlon.com

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