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Brimson SISU – A Fun Challenge for a Good Cause

If you participated in the Brimson SISU race over the past weekend, you may have seen me. I was the one wearing black (stu­pidly) and cheering everyone on (probably obnoxiously). This behavior isn’t typical for me. I love to walk but I’ve participated in very few 5Ks, and when I did so, I certainly only offered a smile to those who were on their way to the finish line, passing me on their loop back.

I think I got caught up in the atmosphere. I wasn’t prepared for the 4.4-mile trek, but I signed up anyway, paying my $28 registra­tion fee and receiving a t-shirt (flaunting this year’s nature theme: the osprey), and a bib bearing the number “60” on it. I started two minutes late on a journey that would end up taking me just under an hour and half to com­plete.

There was a great mix of racers: old, young, moms, dads, babies in strollers, dogs on leashes, professionals, newbies and all over the gamut. Everyone was pushing themselves from the Tiomi School, around the loop, and back again. The scenery was beautiful, it was a gorgeous day, and I felt so inspired by every­one out supporting a good cause. The $7,500 raised at this year’s SISU, which occurred Sat­urday, August 18th, goes to the Brimson Area Volunteer Fire Department.

“Very pleased with the turnout,” Bill Zwak, race director, beamed. “We had about 40 walk-ups.” 220 registered and there were 180 finishers, up from last year’s 160. This is the second year Bill Zwak has organized the race, taking over the event from Diane Dickey (who was in attendance and manned a produce stand), Lynn Bogey (who ran a water station) and Kathleen Anderson (who originally founded the race with her then hus­band).

Bill is also happy to see friends and families who have participated in past events. “Defi­nitely a race that’s legacy for many families,” he told me. “There are new people here, too. I don’t know how they heard about the race but they’re here!” One family, who never attend­ed the Brimson SISU before, was all over the winners board. Hopefully the tradition be­comes a legacy for them in years to come.

Noah Foster, of Cromwell, finished first with a time of 24:40. According to running­level.com, the average time to run just 4 miles is 31:15. It wasn’t his first time at the SISU. In fact, he is the 4-time reigning champion. Seeing him on his way back when I felt like we’d just started made me pick up my pace.

Noah just graduated from Cromwell High School and was given a roster spot at the Uni­versity of Minnesota Duluth, where he will run for both track and cross country. He’s been attending the college’s summer training camp. He will be one to keep tabs on, I think. Sounds like UMD will have a great season ahead. “It’s a very good team,” Noah said.

As the venue of the race rotates, I won­dered what Noah thought of this year’s track. “I thought it would be pretty easy, based on how straight it was,” he answered. “But the hills were brutal.” That said, he’s pretty hap­py with his time. To battle the hills and have a faster pace than the year before is incredible.

I’m glad he mentioned that. Even though they look like a slight incline, they are “slow killers,” according to Noah. I’m going to blame those hills for how sore I am today and not the fact that I’m terribly out of shape.

The award ceremony was adorable, hi­larious, and showcased those who finished the race in a myriad of categories. The first baby finisher had no comment. Neither did the first dog. The others were able to answer the question, even if sometimes awkwardly, what their favorite thing that happened since last year was. “We’re going camping!” a cute little girl said into the mic.

The clapping may have been a bit louder for the first 100% Finnish finisher, Carl Jarvi. Brimson is a largely Finnish community. The concept of SISU is that certain something that the Finns have always exhibited. It’s described as a stoic determination through tenacity. It speaks to grit and resilience. I’m glad I was able to borrow a little second-hand SISU. I slowed down toward the end of the race, but I persevered!

Before I concluded my brief interview with Noah, I asked if there was anything he’d like to tell the people in the area about the event. “Run the Brimson SISU!” he promoted, with a smile.

Next year’s venue has yet to be determined, but as it occurs on the third Saturday of Au­gust every year, the next Brimson SISU will occur on August 17, 2024. Ahead of the event, Bill and his team would love to have volunteers reach out. Confirming that he’ll have enough help would take a bit of a load off the “pressure packed” job he loves to do. I think everyone would agree, he ran a great Brimson SISU this year with the help of his awesome team of volunteers.

If you would like to help out at next year’s event, please contact Bill Zwak by emailing brimsonsisu1@gmail.com. The race infor­mation can be found on the Brimson SISU Facebook.

Feel free to reach out to me at sarahwritesnsj@yahoo.com  with any news we should news about!

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