Even though the 2020 Mora Half Marathon and 5K was canceled this year, it hasn’t kept Mora residents from putting on their running shoes and hitting the pavement. 

We asked three Mora-area runners from a variety of backgrounds and running experiences to share how distance running became a part of their lives, and share their best tips for those thinking about picking up the sport. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise helps control weight, improves mood, boosts energy, promotes better sleep, improves sex life and combats or prevents many health conditions including  stroke, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, many types of cancer and arthritis.

Getting started now gives runners a year to prepare for the 2021 Mora Half Marathon and 5K. 

Mora Half Marathon 2021

The Mora Half Marathon and 5K takes place annually on the third Saturday in August. 

Event organizers say the 2021 course will include a new, improved USA Track and Field-certified course and rollerski race. 

The Mora Half Marathon and 5K is part of the Mora Classic Series that includes the Snake River Canoe Race in May, the Mora Bike Tour in September and the Mora Vasaloppet Cross Country Ski Race in February. Classic Series information can be found at www.moraclassicseries.org.

Jess Larsen

Beginning Runner

Jess Larsen

How did you get started in distance running?: I started running on a regular basis in 2012, but I’ve had two kids since then so I took a long break from it. I started running again this January. My youngest child was almost 2 and I was starting to feel like there might be time in my day to start exercising again. I was looking to be more active, find some energy and get stronger.

What benefits do you gain from running?: I gain more energy, get time to listen to podcasts, and have some time to myself.  I also think I just have better days when I go for a run; it seems to cause a mental shift for the better.

People often talk about finding motivation to run or get exercise. What gets you going and what keeps you going?: I think that some of the gains above are what get me moving, honestly. When I was running at the gym, I chose a show to watch while I ran that I could only watch while I’m running. Now, it’s a chance to get fresh air and have some time to myself (did I mention I have small children?).

What keeps me going?  I have created a training plan that gives me a goal for each day. Sometimes that is really helpful, but honestly having my husband’s support has been the biggest motivator. He exercises almost daily and encourages me to do so as well, helps with training plans, and is always willing to watch the kids so I can workout. He’s not pushy, just asks if I’m going to go for a run.

What tips do you have for someone just getting started in running?: I’ve been following a two-day rule. The rule is that I can’t go two days without exercising. It doesn’t have to be running for me, although currently, that tends to be the easiest option. Having my goal be to never take more than one day off in a row has helped give me the right combination of flexibility and structure to successfully run some miles this summer.


Experienced Runner

Mason Hjelle

How did you get started in distance running?: When I was about 30 years old, I started distance running to complete the Mora Classic.  After finishing the Mora Half Marathon, I thought, “That was tough!  I could never run twice that far to complete a full marathon!”  Since then I have completed 17 marathons, including Twin Cities when the marathon starting temperature was 75 degrees and Boston when it was 40 degrees, windy and raining.

What benefits do you gain from running?:  It used to be a sense of accomplishment.  Now I run “just for the health of it.”

People often talk about finding motivation to run or get exercise. What gets you going and what keeps you going?: I have retired from long-distance running because of minor injuries, arthroscopic knee surgery and a desire to keep my original body parts.  Running is still good exercise and something I refuse to give up.  Whether I am on the trails around  Mora or the beach in Florida, I like to run!  “We don’t quit running because we get old, we get old because we quit running!”

What tips do you have for someone just getting started in running?: Train for and run a marathon!  Whether it is a good experience or a bad experience, it is a BIG experience!  By running a marathon, you will join the elite 1% of people who can call themselves marathoners!  You will remember it forever! 

For the last 10 years, I have run the 10-mile Tough Mudder.  Twenty-five challenging obstacles and a lot of mud make a long run fun. A friend of mine once told me, “I ran two marathons in one day!  My first and my last!”


Running Coach

Michelle Ostien

How did you get started in distance running?: I participated in cross country and track beginning in sixth grade and I was hooked. In college, I continued to stay in shape and compete in 5K races. After graduating, I decided I wanted to challenge myself with some longer distances of 10 mile and half marathon races. In about 2014 I felt motivated to tackle the marathon distance. I have met some lifelong friends through marathon training and although it is a great physical challenge, it is my favorite distance to train for. 

What benefits do you gain from running?: There are so many benefits, but above all I would say it is great for my mental health and sanity. I never regret going out for a run, even on the days I am tired or feeling unmotivated. I also like the feeling of getting in shape and persevering through adversity when life gets hard. It transfers to other areas of my life, serving as a reminder that I can do hard things. 

People often talk about finding motivation to run or get exercise. What gets you going and what keeps you going?: What gets me going is truly knowing the feeling that I will have after a run, whether the run went how I hoped or not. I know that I will be able to focus better in my personal and work life once my run is done. What keeps me going is that I have the best training partner and friend to log miles with. I was fortunate to meet Chana Lennox through coaching cross country and no matter if we have a 4 mile run or 20 miler, the minutes somehow fly by and we always have a good time.

What tips do you have for someone just getting started in running?: First and foremost, I would say to find a plan and stick to it. Start with run/walk intervals and do not try to run too fast right away. Focus on just being able to run for the appropriate amount of time you decide without worrying about pace. For example, do a 5-minute walk, then some shorter run/walk intervals where you rotate running for 2 minutes followed by walking for 1 minute. Repeat four times. Then end with a 5 minute walk. After doing this for a week or two, you can increase the run time to 3 or 4 minutes, etc. Keep building a little at a time. Avoid increasing mileage by over 10% from week to week to avoid injury. Lastly, make a goal! Whether it is to run 1 mile without stopping or a 5K, making a goal and recording your progress will help keep you on track.


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