Grandad Half Marathon: Adam Bohach posts record-breaking victory

May 8, 2017


Photo by Rory O’Driscoll

If you were near the finish line Saturday morning for the end of the Festival Foods Grandad Half Marathon and missed the closing push of Adam Bohach, you weren’t the only one.

Bohach’s quick finish even made the race announcers appear unready, as the 32-year-old from Decorah, Iowa crossed the finish line of the half marathon in 1 hour, 10 minutes, 2 seconds and set a new course record.

Bohach was a few strides past the line before the announcer hurriedly pronounced him as winner and new record-holder. The only person not in awe of his performance was Bohach, who thought he could run better.


Photo by Rory O’Driscoll


“I was around my goal, but I probably would have liked to be a little bit faster,” said Bohach, who was shooting for his midpoint average of 1 hour, 8 minutes when running marathons. “I landed somewhere in the middle today. I’m still happy to run the 1:10 and get the course record, though.”

The previous record of 1:11:10 was set by Justin Stakston when he won the race in 2010. Tristan Coughlin (1:11:17) challenged the record in 2013 before Bohach beat it Saturday.

Born in Decorah and raised in a nearby town named Spillville, Bohach went on to run cross country and track at Luther College, where he earned All-American honors his senior season. He got his first marathon-length race experience in South Africa while volunteering with the Peace Corps. Bohach now teaches high school biology in Decorah, where he also coaches as an assistant with the cross country team.

Bohach mostly runs marathons and triathlons. He has run five marathons in the past two years — and in that time he’s ran some of his most impressive races.

Bohach placed fifth (out of 8,560 runners) last October in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, and won his first marathon — the PNC Milwaukee Marathon — one month later. The next race he’s training for is the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn., next month.

As to why he chose to run in the Festival Foods Grandad Half Marathon, Bohach has roots in La Crosse through his wife, Flannery, another serious runner who grew up on the south side of the city and graduated from Central High School. Before moving to Decorah, the two lived in La Crosse for a year and befriended Tyler Heinz and Kate Ebert from Grand Bluff Running around the time of its inception.

Bohach is now a sponsored runner on the racing team for Grand Bluff Running. He chose to run in the Grandad race a couple of months ago after deciding that it fit well into his training schedule and a chance to visit family and friends.

It was also a chance for Bohach to run in parts of La Crosse he hadn’t seen before, like the south side, where he expected the quieter part of the course to be.

“I’ve haven’t really been through the south side of town that much, so it was actually pretty scenic for me,” Bohach said. ”There were spectators along pretty much the entire route.

“Even when it wasn’t necessarily thick with people, there were was always somebody outside of their house or wherever, cheering you on.”

Around the third mile, Bohach took the lead for good by starting to pull away from Abe Wengel (1:12:28), who finished second for the second year in a row.

The only challenging part of the race for Bohach came around the eighth mile when runners faced a stiff wind as the route reached the farthest point south before turning and looping back.

“There was actually a bit of a breeze, and nobody was there to block the wind,” Bohach said of the stretch from the eighth to 10th miles. “It was the part of the race where you’re starting to get tired, and there’s not many people around, and then you add the wind.

“You’re just trying to stay positive.”

Bohach, who prefers the scientific over superstitious approach to running, was able to stay positive and keep pace throughout the stretch on his way to an uncontested finish.

“Running is just something I’m passionate about,” Bohach said. “I like to use it as an example of hard work for my students, because I was never the most talented, naturally gifted or fastest runner when I was growing up or in college.

“But just by working hard consistently, I’ve been able to get a little better each year.”


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