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Published August 26 2012

Perspiration and inspiration at Streets Alive's Olympic showcase

FARGO – For once in her running career, Laura Roesler didn’t mind finishing at the back of the pack.

The Fargo South graduate and competitor in the 800-meter Olympic track trials led – or rather, trailed – a brief jog up and down Broadway on Sunday. She was one of a handful of elite athletes who showed off their stuff at an athletics-minded Streets Alive event.

It was an exhibition, not a competition.

“Me, Laura and Eric were all dead last,” in the run, said Roesler, referring to fellow 800-meter trial runner Laura Januszewski and marathoner Eric Loeffler. Januszewksi and Loeffler are both North Dakota State University alumni while Roesler is a sophomore at the University of Oregon.

The run attracted a few dozen eager participants, many of them children who afterward sought autographs from the runners.

“It’s always fun to get the little kids involved,” Roesler said.

Before that, Riley Dolezal, a former NDSU javelin thrower, wowed the crowd with an aerial show. Dolezal threw a series of javelins – rubber, for safety – a few hundred feet from near Erbert’s and Gerbert’s sub shop to clear past Dempsey’s pub down the block.

A parade of NDSU pole vaulters, headlined by Olympic trials competitor Leslie Brost, lined up to clear a vault set up down the middle of the street.

Brost, a senior, said the team isn’t in midseason form but still had fun with the crowd cheering them on.

“Just to be able to vault and just have people appreciate it and not care where the bar is, that’s really cool,” she said.

After her vaults, Brost gave a glimpse at the athleticism the sport demands by walking on her hands for a dozen feet – a feat duplicated a few minutes later by Forum and WDAY reporter Robin Heubner, who is also a former U.S. champion gymnast.

The biggest name on hand was Amanda Smock, the former NDSU athlete who competed in triple jump at the London Games.

After completing three jumps into an improvised sand pit, Smock addressed the crowd.

“I love what (Streets Alive) stands for, to try to create a culture of movement,” she said. “I think the best way to do that is to get everybody moving in the same direction.”

Rory Beil, the event’s director, said the pole vaulters were the impetus behind the spectacle. They’d previously appeared at the July event and wanted to do it again.

He said the event coincided well with still-simmering Olympic fever and put the spotlight on athletes who don’t always get it.

“You usually wouldn’t know them walking down the street,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502

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