How the Get In Gear 10K Works

By: Stephanie Crawford
The Get in Gear 10K is held every year in Minneapolis, Minn.

The Get in Gear 10K has kicked off spring in Minneapolis, Minn., since 1978. Nicknamed the state's "Annual Rite of Spring," Get in Gear (GIG) is held the last Saturday of April each year, with runners starting and ending their race at Minneapolis' Minnehaha Park. Though it started as a 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) race, GIG has expanded over the years to include four running events, all with courses certified by U.S.A. Track & Field. (USATF):

  • 10K Run -- The original event, open to runners and handcyclists ages 12 and older, and for younger kids with permission from the race director
  • 5K Run/Walk -- A shorter event open to all ages, added in 2005 for recreational runners and those still in training for longer events
  • 2K Fun Run -- An event open to all ages, with a focus on school-age kids in the Fit-For-Fun program which started in 1987
  • Half-marathon -- A long-distance run (about 21 kilometers, or 13.1 miles) which puts runners' endurance to the test.

Held in April 1978, the first Get in Gear 10K had about 4,500 participants. The Minnesota Distance Running Association (MDRA) and other running enthusiast groups organized similar but smaller events in Minnesota for years before that. The Get in Gear 10K was a large-scale response to a growing trend in distance running inspired by U.S. Olympic marathon champion Frank Shorter, who won gold in 1972 and silver in 1976. [source: Winter]


In 1990, GIG incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. GIG is managed by a board, an executive director, a race operations committee, and a seasonal office staff. GIG also has hundreds of volunteers that help on race day, and the organization supports some of the community organizations that provide volunteers. GIG keeps its Web site up year-round, and that's where participants can register, get detailed race information and find results from past races.

Starting in 2006, GIG partnered with Second Harvest Heartland, a charity providing food for needy children. Annually, GIG matches the cash donations from its race participants (up to $10,000 per participant) to Second Harvest Heartland. In 2009 the total donation was $60,000, and as of this writing GIG had a 2010 goal to raise $100,000. GIG also encourages race participants to bring non-perishable foods to the registration and packet pickup the day before the run, and to the event itself for donation to the Second Harvest Heartland food bank.

On your mark, get set and go on to the next page to read more about the Get in Gear race experience.


Get in Gear 10K Route

The Get in Gear (GIG) running events start and end at Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis, Minn., at the intersection of 46th Avenue and West River Parkway. The shorter events (2K and 5K) run mostly along Godfrey and West River parkways. The 10K and half-marathon feature river-side runs, crossing the Mississippi on Lake Bridge into St. Paul, Minn., after about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers), and then crossing back on Ford Bridge during the last half-mile stretch. [source: Get in Gear]

The Minneapolis and St. Paul streets on the routes are blocked off for the runners for part of the race day. Each race begins between 8 and 9:30 a.m., and GIG advises the 10K and half-marathon runners that they have three hours to complete their races before the roads are re-opened to traffic. Aid stations are set up along the longer routes, too, and runners are given their split times at each mile. [source: Get in Gear]


According to the Get in Gear Web site, the elevation for the 10K is mostly flat. At both the 4 km and 9 km marks, there is a sharp decline, short flat stretch and sharp incline, all within about a quarter of a kilometer. These correspond to the bridge crossings over the Mississippi. There's also a gradual incline and decline between the 5 and 6 kilometer marks. The total climb over the course of the race is 366 feet (111 meters), and the total elevation change is 724 feet (221 meters). [source: Get in Gear]

On race day, Minneapolis' high temperatures average in the 50s, with mornings still lingering in the 40s. This may seem a bit chilly if you're just standing around. However, in their blogs, many GIG participants report it to be a pleasant temperature for running. The Minneapolis weather may vary from year to year, too, but the event goes on no matter what. Even on a rainy April 24, 2010, 3,698 runners finished the 10K race, and the corresponding 5K and half-marathon had another 2,682 runners crossing the finish line [source:].

Jog on to the next page to find out more about the race results and some big-name runners who have participated in the Get in Gear 10K over the years.


Get in Gear 10K Results

As with other running events across the country, Get in Gear doesn't just recognize its top overall finishers in each event. GIG also recognizes the top men, top women and top finishers in these age groups: 14 and under, 15 to 19, 20 to 24, 25 to 29, 30 to 34, 35 to 39, 40 to 44, 45 to 49, 50 to 54, 55 to 59, 60 to 64, 65 to 69, and 70 and above.

There is cumulative prize money for each of the top finishers in the 10K. The top male and female in the open category get $1,000 each, with $500 going to the second finisher and $250 to the third finisher. The respective prizes in the master's category are $500, $250 and $100. There are also bonus prizes of $200 for finishing under 30 minutes (male) or 34 minutes (female), and $500 for setting a new course record. Whether or not you're the top overall, you could also get a $50 incentive bonus for being first in your age group.


Those top runners aren't the only winners on race day. GIG has corporate team awards in certain age groups for the 5K, 10K and half marathon. GIG also gives out special race-day-only prizes for randomly-selected participants, including gift certificates and promotional items.

As of this writing, no female runners have set a new GIG course record for the 10K since three-time top female and champion marathon runner Janis Klecker in 1992 (32:52). Alemtsehay Misganaw of New York, NY, is a recent three-time winner, taking the top female spot in 2007, 2009 and 2010. Her 2007 time was just 6 seconds shy of Klecker's course record. Janice Ettle dominated from 1981-1991, taking the top female spot five times in those years. Other multi-year top females include Jan Arenz (1978, 1979), Deb Gormley (1995, 1996, 1998), Kelly Keeler (1999, 2000) and Lynbol Kremleva (2002, 2003).

Jonah Koech set the current GIG 10K course record for males in 1994 with a time of 28:45. Koech is a native Kenyan and a respected track-and-field star from Iowa State University. The 2010 top spot went to Richard Kandie from Coon Rapids, Minn. The males have repeat winners, too, including Dan Held (1991, 1992, 1993), Jared Segera (1999, 2003, 2004) and the recent two-time winner Sammy Malakwen (2008, 2009) who shares Koech's Kenyan heritage.

For more on 10Ks and other distance running topics, run over the links on the next page.


Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • "Athletics: Jonah Koech, Hall of Fame Class of 2003." Iowa State University. Sept. 12, 2006. (July 26, 2010)
  • Get in Gear. "2010 Fit-For-Fun." Get in Gear, Inc. (July 25, 2010)
  • Get in Gear. "2010 Get in Gear Race Course Route Maps." Get in Gear, Inc. (July 25, 2010)
  • Get in Gear. "General Information." Get in Gear, Inc. (July 25, 2010)
  • Get in Gear. "Results." Get in Gear, Inc. (July 25, 2010)
  • "Get in Gear 10K Race 2009." Malpaso. April 26, 2009. (July 29, 2010)
  • Mahler, Charlie. "Malakwen Defends Get in Gear 10K Title; Misganaw Returns for 2nd Title in 3 Years." Running USA wire, reprinted at April 25, 2009. (July 26, 2010)
  • Minnesotadon. "Get in Gear 10K Race." Make it a Masterpiece. April 24, 2010. (July 29, 2010)
  • New York Road Runners. "ING New York City Marathon 2010: Guaranteed Entry Options/Qualifying Standards." (July 25, 2010)
  • Odenthal, Paulette. "Fit For Fun Program: 20 Years and Still Running." presented by Runner's World. Carol Goodrow. (July 25, 2010)
  • "Get in Gear - 2010." (July 25, 2010)
  • Sunshine. "Get in Gear 10K." Best Day of the Year. April 24, 2010. (July 29, 2010)
  • Winter, Jeff. "City of Lakes Marathon 1975-1981: A Historical Retrospective." RunMinnesota. September/October 2003. (July 25, 2010)