Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
WASHINGTON — He knew what the Kewash half-marathon record was. He knew what his personal record was. He knew on a good day he had a chance.
Saturday was bright with some wind and almost 50 degrees, a good day for Matthew Cooper.
Cooper’s personal record for a half marathon was 1 hour, 5 minutes and 30 seconds, which he did not better, finishing the Kewash in 1:06:42. However, the relevant time was 1:07:14, the record for the men’s overall half marathon set in 2019 by Dylan Lafond and the relevancy was Washington State Bank’s award of $1,000 if the record was broken.
“My college teammate let me know about it, and it seemed like a great opportunity to possibly pick up some extra cash,” Cooper said. “I’ll buy lunch for him as thanks.”
Olivia Dietzel won the women’s half marathon with a time of 1:27:48.
It was both winners first time in the Kewash. While Cooper had made plans in advance to run, Dietzel’s was a last-minute decision. She is training to enter Iron Man competitions and had planned to run at Solon in the Sugar Bottom Trail half marathon but decided the risk of injury wasn’t worth it.
“It is off-road and uses his mountain bike trails, so I decided that is not the best idea two weeks out from attempting my first triathlon,” said Dietzel, who is from Cuba City, Wisc.
Her goal was “just do the best that I can.” Dietzel ran a half marathon last weekend and finished a minute ahead of her time in the Kewash, but she was a lot faster than the Sugar Bottom winner where the winning time was 1:52:36.
“Pace is important so I’ll aim for certain times for each mile and try to keep it as consistent as I can,” Dietzel said.
Cooper did the math on the pace he needed each mile to be for a record: 5:06. “I was good on my splits, then had the wind helping on the way back so I tried to be a little faster. Strength of my races are having a good kick and I’m patient. I try to bide my time through the first half and then make my move in the second half.”
Jeffrey Quednow finished second overall (1:18:16) and is Cooper’s teammate from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire who told him of the cash bonus.
“I didn’t even try to keep up with him,” Quednow said. “He’s out of my league.”
Sometimes the biggest part of running is not speeding up, it’s about not slowing down. The money did not come easy. Cooper was hurting from Miles 6-8.
“It made me start thinking, can I do this?’ I was able to regain my composure after the turn around. It hurt, but all races should.”
Both Dietzel and Cooper loved the course, the water stops, all the support along the way and enjoyed it.
"I will definitely come back,“ Cooper said.