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Eric Peterson, Published May 18 2013

VIDEO: Loeffler, Grinaker earn wins in half-marathon

FARGO – Soon after Hanna Grinaker crossed the finish line Saturday morning to win the Fargo Half-Marathon in the women’s division, she found out Eric Loeffler won the men’s race.

“I figured he would,” said Grinaker, who went to high school in Detroit Lakes, Minn. “He’s always so modest.”

The unassuming Loeffler has coached Grinaker for about a year. He completed his race in 1 hour, 7 minutes, 10.5 seconds at the Fargodome. Grinaker broke the tape in a time of 1:18:33.4.

“He’s awesome. It’s fun to win when he’s coaching me,” Grinaker said, before she joked. “He told me yesterday. ‘If you win, I’m your coach. If not, it’s all on you.’ ”

For Loeffler, who qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the marathon in 2011, this was his first win at the Fargo Marathon. Loeffler chose not to compete in any of the races last year.

“This is my first win here so that’s definitely nice,” said Loeffler, who is a volunteer assistant coach in track and cross country at North Dakota State. “There have been years when I thought I was in position to win and it just didn’t work out. It’s really nice to come and win in your hometown.”

The 36-year-old Loeffler finished ahead of Kelly Fermoyle of Minneapolis. Fermoyle, 27, completed the race in a time of 1:08:04.5. Loeffler estimated he took the lead around three miles into the race and was able to maintain a cushion from that point.

“Kelly is an awesome runner,” Loeffler said. “We have raced a lot against each other. I was never comfortable with any kind of gap.”

Loeffler said winning this race ranks near the top of his running accomplishments.

“It’s right up there,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve won a race for a very long time so this feels very nice. I really don’t win a lot of races. I’m going to some very competitive races and more shooting for time.”

While Loeffler was a Fargo Marathon veteran, Grinaker was running in the event for the first time. Grinaker, 25, was an All-American in cross country at the University of Wisconsin.

She graduated from Wisconsin in 2011 and is now a graduate assistant coach at NDSU.

“She has a bright future,” Loeffler said.

Grinaker wasn’t feeling her best a couple miles into Saturday’s half-marathon and said she battled through the race from that point.

“It was just a constant feeling of suck basically,” Grinaker said with a laugh.

After she finished, Grinaker gave a shout out to “Troy from Moorhead” for helping her through the race. She didn’t know Troy’s last name. Grinaker got a final burst of energy when she entered the Fargodome and the crowd cheered her across the finish line.

“I was not anticipating that,” Grinaker said of the ovation. “It kind of gave me chills a little bit. It’s awesome to finish in the dome. This is kind of like a Fargo hallmark.”