NEW ULM — A dozen New Ulm women, led by Stef Dietz, a Park and Recreation fitness and aquatics coordinator, hit the sidewalks three times a week with the goal of running in the Hermann Victory Celebration 5K event Saturday, Sept. 19.
“Yes, we’re preparing for the Hermann Victory 5K. After that, I’m not exactly sure if we will continue. It goes up until we actually run the 5K. Then, after that we could maybe do some further training. Who knows,” Dietz said.
The plucky dozen are Mary Ann Baumgart, Laura Bohlmann, Mary Bohlmann, Shannon Frauenholz, Kristen Gehrke, Lisa Gulden, Charalee Heck, Amy Jones, Mary Luepke, Nicole Rodewald, Carrie Thomas and Cindy Wall.
But, how this all came about has a definite serendipitous quality surrounding it.
“How it got started was we’ve had a couple of individuals — beginning runners — within our rec center that wanted to start running. They weren’t out there running every day so that’s where it kind of started. Then, with the anniversary of the German [victory event[ coming up, we kind of tied it all in together,” Dietz explained.
“So, we started with the ‘Run Your Way to a 5K’ for beginner runners, and then we added in the Hermann Victory 5K [as the goal]. So, that’s how it started. It was interest within the local fitness center and Recreation Center here, and it just kind of expanded from there,” Dietz said.
“Right now, it’s just set up for nine weeks of training. We go Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. So, basically, they’re training for the Hermann 5K. There’s nothing set up after that.”
Although all the runners are women, there’s a wide spectrum of ages and interests represented in the group.
“I believe our youngest is 21, and our oldest is 60. So, we have a variety of ages, as well as fitness, abilities and interest. So far, it’s been a lot of fun,” Dietz said.
While the runners are just reaching the mid-point of the program, Dietz said she feels it’s not too early to determine whether the project is a success or not.
“Oh, definitely. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. A lot of the women, they enjoy it. They see themselves meet their personal goals, and they’ve seen themselves improving. So, I think it would be something that we could maybe take a look at trying something over the winter, maybe in the spring, try maybe a training for 10K. Who knows.”
However, Dietz didn’t just jump into setting up the program. She did her homework.
“[For] this training, I actually consulted another fitness trainer within our facility, and I’ve also talked to an individual that works for us that has run in quite a few 5Ks. I’ve kind of taken their input along with what I found successful myself in running and geared that training from all three of us for these people, and I think it’s been working out really good,” she said.
“What we do is we start out with a good warm-up right away in the morning, and then we go do our runs. Then, [when] we get that time-lapse, we’ll do either some weight work or ab [abdominal muscles} work, and we’ve also taken a day to do some work in the pool,” she continued.
“So, they do get a variety not only of just running. It’s also learning proper techniques or weight lifting for ab work and for stuff in the pool. It’s a variety,” Dietz said.
“I haven’t really gotten into the whole nutritional thing, but I have gotten into, as you are going through this training, what foods to avoid and what foods to eat and maybe what you should be eating before you run, when to eat after, that type of thing, but I really haven’t gotten into the whole nutritional end of it.”
And, if the program can’t be extended, Dietz feels her runners would have at least another option.
“We are doing actually something that started in October, called the Runners and Walkers’ League which is not training. It’s a little bit different. So, if they wanted to, they can continue in this Runners and Walkers League, but that’s a little bit different from what we’re doing right now. It’s kind of a social type [activity], Dietz explained.
Still, Dietz feels continuing this running program with a new goal has great potential because the number of women who signed on for the 5K event was more than expected.
“I was actually surprised at the amount of people that were interested in getting involved and learning the proper techniques of running from, you know, going from not having any running experience to now they’ve been running for the last four weeks. The interest is there so, yes, it’s been really neat to see how many people we actually had sign up and that they like it, and they’ve been improving<” she said.
“The 12 [and] myself were all at different fitness levels. I think some of them find it challenging. Some of them maybe don’t find it as challenging because we’re all at different fitness levels, and everybody has their own individual goals. Some are just [trying] to make it through the day, and some are trying to pick up the pace a little bit and do a little more running. I think they feel challenged, and they also feel self-satisfied that they’re getting through every workout, you know, on that Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” Dietz said.
“Some of them have joined because their girl friend has joined. Some of them will run with a partner or their friend, or some just like to be by themselves, put their iPod on and go,” she said.
“Yes, it’s a good group, and they’re fun to be with [so] I think they’re enjoying themselves. Yes, they’re not out to set the world record for the 5K in New Ulm, Minnesota,” Dietz continued.
“They’re out there to learn, like I said, the proper techniques to get back into fitness and to be able to run a 5K because a lot of them haven’t done that or they did back when they were younger and then put it to the side. Now, they want to get back into it. So, I definitely think it’s a day-by-day thing for everybody.”
Ron Larsen can be reached at
Staff photo by Ron Larsen
It’s follow the leader as the Park and Rec’s fitness and aquatics coordinator Stef Dietz leads the way, trailed by runners Carrie Thomas and Mary Bohlmann (middle, left to right) and Mary Ann Baumgart (visible between Thomas and Bohlmann).
Bottom of page: Other runners from the group make their way down the sidewalks of Center St. during an early morning training session in New Ulm.