|Former Minnesota State All-American|
Kurt Keiser competes in ultra marathons -
races of 100 or miles.
Some can’t imagine running a full marathon, a total of 26.219 miles, let alone anything further than that. But not for Kurt Keiser, a two-time men’s cross country All-American for the Mavericks during his four-year career from 1992-1996. He finished 30th at the NCAA Division II meet in 1994 and was 26th as a senior in 1996, before going on to qualify for the 2000 Olympic Marathon Trials. Keiser continues to fulfill his passion of running by competing in ultra marathons—races of 100 plus miles of running.
The Coon Rapids, Minn., native is a pretty busy guy, running his two run/walk specialty shoe stores (River Valley Running) in Mankato and Shakopee, competing in ultra marathons, and raising a family of five. In his free time, he enjoys training for ultra marathons, and he insists that training for an ultra marathon isn’t that much different than training for a marathon. Although he doesn’t have much discretionary time, he completes several hard running workouts during the week with a long run during the weekend. “I try to have one run last between 20-35 miles, and put in quality work and average running 50-80 miles a week,” says Keiser.
“I first became interested in ultra marathons when I was in my mid-30’s, which is considered no man’s land in competitive racing because you are not old enough to be considered a master runner,” said Keiser. “I was in a rut and I was willing to try something new.” Because he finally reached the age bracket, Keiser is now considered a master runner and he enjoys trying to beat as many young people as he can.
Keiser still enjoys competing both on and off the running trail. He was fortunate enough to be in the specialty running and walking shoe industry for over 15 years. He was an employee for New Balance for ten years and worked full time after graduating college while remaining to compete full time in marathons. His experience within the industry inspired him to open up his own store after being able to see the business firsthand.
The experience and knowledge he gained during his time in the industry was crucial. “The experience was the most important thing,” said Keiser. “I was able to talk to the right people and learned which framework of knowledge was necessary to be successful.” But it ultimately came down to timing and location to open his first store in Mankato.
Opening a store in Mankato has a special place in Keiser’s heart. His relations to the city of Mankato inspired him to open his specialty walking and running shoe store there. Once he saw the success of the store in Mankato he was inspired to open a second store in Shakopee.
The aspect of the running industry that interests Keiser the most is the opportunity to compete, both as a runner and business owner. He has the competitive drive to put his body to the test, yet it is not all about winning. “The ultra marathon community is a close knit group and I enjoy being a part of it,” says Keiser. “You need to have a passion for running, and you have to find your reason in order to continue to compete.”
- contributed by Minnesota State Athletic Communications intern Kaitlyn Kanne