On October 3, 17 year-old Brittin Roberts of Bluffton beat his personal record in his first ever marathon. He had only run four half-marathons prior to the event.
The Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon was open to any age group. He heard of the marathon by word of mouth and signed up for the event.
Roberts said that over 11,000 people registered. Of the 8,212 people who finished the marathon, he placed 1,006th.
He placed 18th out of 137 males who competed in the 21 and under bracket. In the last 10km (6.2 miles), he said he passed 344 people.
Roberts was the first 17 year-old to finish.
Running at an average rate of 7:56 per mile, his official time was 3:27:50, 2 minutes and 10 seconds ahead of his goal.
"My biggest passion is running," he said. "My biggest accomplishment is, by far, the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. I pushed myself to get my record in the last six miles."
"It's uplifting and something few people can do, especially at my age. It's an honor and accomplishment," he said.
"This was a goal within a goal," Roberts said. "Your goal is to finish and not all people do."
To the finish line
"I didn't feel great the first 20 miles," he said. "I was just doing all right."
"Once 20 passed, I knew I could make it, so I pushed myself into the ground."
All of his times in the last five miles were under 7 minutes and 30 seconds.
"I never hit the wall. It's generally at 21-23 miles for most people. Mile 20 felt the longest, even though it was only 8 minutes and 7 seconds," he said. Miles 20-24 were uphill.
The marathon concluded downhill for the last half-mile and Roberts said he went into "an all out full sprint for the last half mile to the finish."
Over 300,000 spectators attended the event, he said.
"It's uplifting to see so many people cheering. There's many different emotions during a race, but sad is never usually one of them."
"It was just me, my shoes, and my watch," he said.
Runners brought warm-up clothing with them to the race, and handed them off to get washed and donated.
"I just couldn't let go of my hat," Roberts said. "I threw it to my mom when I saw her."
When Roberts was in 7th grade, his mother ran a 5k and was competing in another. She talked him into trying it, and after just a few steps he said, "I didn't like it at all."
As a freshman, he played baseball for the NY Mills Eagles. He found himself running a few miles after practice. He joined track the following year.
Jake Norton, a family friend, recommended that Roberts try running the Dick Beardsley Marathon in Detroit Lakes.
Before he started training for long distance running, the longest he had ever run was five miles.
In the past three years, he has competed in the Fish Hook Challenge in Park Rapids, the North Country 10k in Walker, Perham's Crazy Dayz half-marathon, two runs at the Dick Beardsley half-marathon in Detroit Lakes, and the Otter Tail Lake Chase 8k.
Roberts placed first in his age group for two years in a row at the Otter Tail Lake Chase 8k.
He also participated in a marathon relay in Walker with Steve Windels. The two placed at 3:23:00.
Staying humble, staying
"There have been tons of people that I've met once or through friends. It's nice to know you did something people recognize. I'm trying to remain humble through it all," he said.
"I'm really glad everyone supported me and helped me," he said.
To keep himself conditioned, Roberts goes cross-country skiing in the winter and runs track in the spring.
Roberts is currently self-coached and has gotten himself this far. He has full intentions to run the Boston Marathon at some point in the future.
"Running isn't a winning game. It's about passion."