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By Jason Juno 

Schneiders score 4th Paavo sweep

 

Jason Juno/Daily Globe

Ben Schneider of Minneapolis runs along County C near the Gile Flowage during the 46th annual Paavo Nurmi Marathon Saturday.

HURLEY - No man or woman has won as many Paavo Nurmi Marathons after Ben Schneider, 30, of Minneapolis picked up his ninth straight win at Saturday morning's 46th annual race.

He celebrated by running his fastest Paavo - 2:33:01.

His wife, Candice, 29, also won again, making for the fourth straight Schneider sweep, which happens to be the number on her race bib. Candice battled the sunny and hot morning to finish in 3:15:21, 3 minutes, 53 seconds faster than second-place Denise Hefferin of Saint Charles, Ill.

Ben became the winningest male last year. He surpassed the eight Paavos won by Ann Heaslett and Mary with another dominating win this year. The runner-up was more than 11 minutes back.

The second-place finisher had a familiar name, Bryan Schneider, who even hails from Minneapolis, like Ben and Candice. He isn't related to the Paavo champions, though.

It was a fast day for Ben.

"I just tried to get out a little quicker than usual," Ben said. "I usually try to hold back until after (mile 10) because that's the highest point on the course. Today, I just figured I'd try to go after it early since I knew it'd be the coolest time of the day. I was able to just keep it up."

Schneider caught a few people off guard on Silver Street with his speedier time. His previous best came in 2012 at 2:34:50.

"I knew I was trying to go after it, but when I turned the corner and saw the clock was still under 2:33, that was a great feeling," he said. "When it gets late in the race, I try not to look at my watch because it can be more demoralizing than encouraging sometimes."

Schneider has smashed Paavo records for wins since he started running in 2006 and Saturday was no different. Mary Bange and Ann Heaslett both won eight Paavos. Heaslett won eight in a row from 2001 to 2008. Bange won eight races in a span of nine years from 1976 to 1984.

Now Ben is by himself with nine titles.

"It's always great; I love this race," Schneider said. "I'm going to keep on trying to do it.

"It's exciting (to break another record). It's tough to just stay healthy year after year so I feel blessed to keep getting out here and going after it."

Candice battled the heat as temperatures soared into the 70s before 9 a.m. under a relentless sun.

"I don't consider myself a good heat runner. I just hate heat," she said. "I went out at like a 3:10 pace and I'm like, 'Yeah, I can probably do this.' That was not a good idea. I didn't fall off too bad."

Candice finished 14 seconds quicker than last year, which was cooler, but her injury, hamstring tendinopathy also affected her then and not this year.

"I definitely felt better, as far as my hip and everything," she said. "But the heat got to me. ... It was a tough day, so I'm glad I survived another year."

She was happy with the end result.

"It was hot, so I'm not upset with my time," she said. "I could be putting in my more miles and running faster, but that's just where I'm at right now, so I'm OK with it."

Hefferin finished in second place last year also and introduced herself to Candice Saturday. Hefferin was about 11 minutes behind last year.

“She was closer to me this year,” Candice said. “I know my friends said she was about a half-mile back; good for her. She told me she ran a minute slower than me at Boston this year, so pretty similar abilities. Hopefully she’ll keep coming back.”

Candice said she was happy to keep the streak alive.

“I’d like to make Paavo my goal race at some point and try to run faster,” she said. “I ran a 3:10 here once (2012), which is pretty close to my best time. I’d like to go really hard on this course one day and see what I can do.”

August is an odd time for marathons, which makes it hard to be a goal race.