The Carson 10 is the oldest of the
ITC races, having its maiden run in the spring of 1969. Except for 2
years in the 70s, its home has remained at Carson Park, Eau Claire,
Wisconsin. The original 10 mile course required runners to
complete 5 loops plus another 4,338 feet, all within the confines of
Carson Park. Joan and David Angell measured the original course with a
one hundred foot steel tape because the club had no measuring wheel at
that time. The club wanted the best possible field of runners for the
first race so Dave Angell called Ron Dawes, from the Twin Cities Track
Club, explained the situation, and asked him if he would compete. At
the time, Ron
Dawes was the top American finisher in the 1969 Boston
Marathon, finishing in 4th place that year. He
won the first Twin Cities Marathon (then known as the Land of Lakes
Marathon) in 1963 beating out a total field of 5 other runners, and
represented the US in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics marathon. He
graciously accepted Dave Angell's invitation in 1969 and brought
several other runners with him. Thirty-five runners finished the first
Carson 10. Ron Dawes led the entire race and finished in 52:34. There
were no women runners in this first race and wouldn’t be until 1974.
line photograph from 1971. Bob Fitts is wearing Bib No. 56. Also
recognizable in the photograph are Bruce Mortenson (#1), Tom Hoffman,
Paul Dale, Bill "the Grey Ghost" Andberg, Reuben Zettler and Ron Dawes
Bob Fitts, the 1970
National Marathon Champion, won the 3rd
annual Carson 10 in 1971. His time of 49:54 was one of two sub-50
minute times ever recorded in the history of the race. It is
the only official sub-50 minute time because road construction
necessitated a slightly altered course in the later race. There were 32
runners who ran the 10 mile race that year. The 1971 event also
included the first running of the Joggers 2-Mile race and the Ladies
1-Mile race. Dan
Conway of Owen, Wisconsin, won the 2-Mile that year in 11:53;
and Toni St. Pierre of Hopkins, Minnesota, was first to finish the
Ladies 1-mile race with a time of 5:46. Toni St. Pierre was an
outstanding runner in track and cross country, setting the national
record in the half-mile. She fought a legal battle with Minnesota State
High School League for equal opportunities for female athletes, and
won. She was a pioneer in the era of emerging girls programs.
Also new in 1971, the Earl Matthes
Award was given to the top male (and in later years, female) Masters
(40+) finishers of the 10 mile race. Earl Matthes was one the of the
founding members of the ITC. An outstanding athlete, Earl died of
cancer in 1971 while in his mid-40's. His wife, Harriet, established
the Earl Matthes Award in his honor. The trophy originally was a
traveling one. These days, the Earl Matthes Award winners are given a
smaller trophy to keep.
Andberg, "The Gray Ghost" of Anoka, Minnesota, was the first
recipient with a time of 62:03.
The year of 1974 was notable
Jan Arenz was the first woman to run the 10 mile race. Her
time was 67:35. Steve
Hoag, who would finish 2nd in the Boston marathon in 1975,
was the 1st place finisher with 49:47. However, the course had been
slightly altered because of road construction. There were 8 runners
Alex Ratelle won the Earl Matthes award in a time of 57:49.
Alex Ratelle still holds the Grandma's Marathon 55-59 age group record
of 2:30:40, set in 1981, and the Grandma's Marathon 60-64 age group
record of 2:48:20, set in 1985.
In 1977, Jerry Foote added a twist
and held a Jogger's Predicted Time 2 mile run. The winner was the racer
whose actual time was closest to his of her predicted time.
Two Olympic runners participated
in the 1979 race. Ron Dawes returned and placed 3rd overall, winning
the 40-50 age group. He brought along his friend,
Moller, a National Champion and future four-time Olympian
marathon runner from New Zealand. Finishing 6th overall in 58:13, she
set a race record for women which still stands although Karen
Schoenrock would come within 3 seconds of it in 1986.
The notes from one of the race
directors in 1981, either Jerry Foote or Roger Hubbard, indicated that "Barney
Klecker, world record holder for the 50 mile run, ran away
from the field to win the 10 mile in 51:45. Barney is an Indianhead
Track Club member from Hopkins, Minnesota."
The 1993 race was supposed to
include the new Chippewa River Trail, but this change was postponed a
year because of flood damage. Since then the course has incorporated
Chippewa River State Recreational Trail south of Eau Claire
which provides the 10 mile runners with a scenic view of the broad
meanders of the Chippewa River.
Harvest Fest 10 Miler replaced the
Carson Park 10 Miler in 1995. Race Director Judy Gehrman hoped the new
course and new format would increase participation. The new course
began west of town and finished in Owen Park. Then in 1996, the race
name was changed again to Norwest Leaf Peeper 10 Mile Run. Finally, the
name returned to Carson Park 10 Road Run in 1997. Starting ten miles
out of town, runners finished once again in Carson Park.
2010 brought big changes to the
Carson. Wade Zweiner, the new race director, went to a 5K race, instead
of the 2 mile. The new 10 mile course consisted of two 5 mile loops
measured from the Paul Bunyan Logging Camp. The Chippewa Valley Museum
served breakfast to runners and spectators, and offered historically
accurate demonstrations on butter-churning and log cutting. As a result
race participation more than doubled.