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Freezin’ for a Reason run/walk draws a crowd

MLC student wins in 18:28

December 2, 2012
By Fritz Busch - Staff Writer , The Journal

NEW ULM - A Martin Luther College (MLC) student won a 5K run/walk Saturday to benefit Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention.

Noah Willitz, 20, an MLC junior on the pastor track, toured the 3.1 mile route from the New Ulm Recreation Center south, up a hill and down around South Park and back to Garden Street, near the recreation center in 18:28.6.

"There are just two towns in the country with glockenspiels and I live in both of them," said Willitz, of Frankenmuth, Mich.

Article Photos

Staff photo by Steve Muscatello

Runners participating in the New Ulm Jungle Bell Jam 5K walk/run start their race at the New Ulm Recreation Center Saturday. The event is sponsored by the Brown County Yellow Ribbon and offered medals to top finishers as well as prizes for costumes.

"They could have done lots of mean things with hills in New Ulm," Willitz said about the relatively flat route.

His time wasn't a personal record. Willitz said he raced 5Ks about a minute faster in high school cross country.

Willitz was one of several MLC students including the college cross country team that dressed up in colorful red and white attire including stocking hats, shorts adorned with large black buckles and suspenders.

The MLC student group won the event's Spirit Award. They finished 1-2-6-7-8-9 among more than 300 participants in the run/walk hosted by the Brown County Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program and City of New Ulm.

New Ulm Medical Center Orthopedic Specialist Duane Oftedahl who recently competed in the World's Toughest (24-hour) Mudder (WTM) in southern New Jersey, braved the temperature in the high 30s with nothing more than shoes, socks and running shorts.

"You're going to get too hot," he told other runners, some of whom covered most of their exposed flesh for the race.

Oftedahl, 31, finished third overall in 18:55. He admitted he was still recovering from leg soreness in the WTM. He said he was in seventh place overall before swimming about a half mile across a lake without waterproof gear that severely dropped his body temperature, forcing him to drop out.

"Competitors that stayed warm during the swim were wearing some gear I never heard of," Oftedahl said. "I'm only running about seven miles a day now, about half of what I was doing before the WTM," Oftedahl said.

Nine-year-old Miles Fleck finished 28th overall. The first female finisher was Ashley Hoscheit of North Mankato in 19:29.

Participants received t-shirts and athletic duffle bags plus post-race food and drink.

For complete results, visit, click on results, Jingle Bell Jam's Freezin' for a Reason 5K walk/run.

Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at



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