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Becky Hanson (left) and Amy Boehm wear plaid while competing Saturday during the 5K Plaid Run at the Northland Arboretum as part of the Northern Plaid Festival. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch)

Running: Former thrower wins 5K

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sports Brainerd,MN 56401
Brainerd Dispatch
Running: Former thrower wins 5K
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

Participation was nearly tripled for The Northern Plaid Festival's 5K run/walk, with 100 people racing for the event's second year at The Northland Arboretum Saturday.

The festival, which featured a 5K run/walk, live music from The District Band, family centered activities and vendors, was hosted by The Brighter Days Foundation of Brainerd.

Baxter native Tom Lyscio, 24, crossed the finish line with a time of 20:26 to win the race in his first year participating.

"I've only run about four 5K's, but I just like to really push myself to the point that I can't go any harder," said Lyscio. "I was sizing up people that I was kind of thinking I wouldn't be able to keep up with. There were quite a few people gathered around the start and I was surprised when people started to fall back because I didn't think I was really doing that well. I felt really tired, but it was really cool and I'm really surprised."

The current Twin Cities area resident used his northland background to help propel him to the lead.

"I kind of felt like I had an advantage because I've cross country skied here in the winter pretty often so I knew where it was going to go, and where the hills were going to be, so that worked in my favor because I could just let my legs run instead of fighting it."

A Brainerd high school graduate, Lyscio is no stranger to athletic competition, but has taken a different approach to his fitness since graduation.

"I was in football, Alpine skiing and I was a thrower for track and field in high school and the people who haven't seen me in awhile either don't recognize me or they're shocked because I've lost a lot of weight now that I'm not training for those kinds of events anymore," said Lyscio. "I started biking and running instead about two years ago and it's been a really good change."

Ashley Kunesh, 27, a first grade teacher at Lowell Elementary school in Brainerd, was hot on Lyscio's heels with a 21:44 finish to snag second place overall.

"I was with quite a bit of people when we first started and then I slowly passed them and when I got to the trail, it was just me," said Kunesh.

"It was so nice inside the arboretum and so pretty and it's a beautiful course, it was very enjoyable. It was a good race. I feel good. It's so nice that the town can support The Brighter Days Foundation. It's fun to win, but it's also for a good cause."

The one mile children's fun run saw 20 participants competing.

"We're really excited to have so much of the community outside and exercising and enjoying the weather," said Brighter Days Foundation president and founder Jeanni Foss. "The foundation has been able to help about eight to ten families a year since we started in 2009 thanks to our sponsors and these types of events. The families are always just so overwhelmed with all of the support the community has given them in donations and gifts. This event is our way to thank the community for that support."

"Lake Country Toyota is one of our major sponsors and sent a lot of people out here today and we appreciate them so much," said Foss. "We're always looking for major sponsors for any event."

The Brighter Days Foundation is a 501 c3 tax-deductible foundation that helps chronically or seriously-ill children and their families by surprising them with gifts that take their mind off the struggles of the treatments they are receiving.

To learn more about The Brighter Days Foundation and becoming a sponsor or to nominate a family in need visit

2014 5K Leaderboard

1-Tom Lyscio 20:26

2-Ashley Kunesh 21:44

3-Sara Whiteman 22:49

4-Paul Marvin 22:54

5-Kylee Heurun 22:59

6-Ravi Raman 23:10

7-Ethan Hebert 23:40

8-LeeAnn Johnson 23:41

9-Jacob Drietz 23:54

10-Benjamin Jensen 23:55