Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Bonnie Sons, 42 of Shorewood, is arguably one of the most consistent runners around. As the weather cools (hopefully) and fall approaches, Bonnie finds herself in the thick of the Runner of the Year rankings for 40-44 year olds. Although she hasn’t been thrilled with her racing in 2007, she seems to be coming around at the right time, having run 37:23 at the Victory 10K on Labor Day. In addition to being honest about her racing, she’s honest about her weaknesses. Read on to find out what they are. (Photo courtesy of Wayne Kryduba.)

When and how did you get involved with running?
I started running track in 7th grade. My cousin who lived a half mile down the road was joining the middle school track team and wanted me to join so we could carpool…so I did. I primarily ran the 400 until my junior year when my coach convinced me to try cross country. It turned out I loved cross country. From that point on I’ve been running the longer distances.

Can you briefly recap some of your accolades while at Iowa State and since?
Highlights from college include Big 8 10K champion, current ISU record holder for the 10K, 3-time NCAA Div. I All-American, 2nd place team finish at NCAA Div. I Cross Country Nationals, participant in the exhibition 10K at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, TAC 10K champion, 2-time participant in the Olympic Festival Games. After college, I qualified for and ran the 2000 Olympic marathon trials. Currently, I try to remain competitive as a local master’s runner. I have been running for the Run ‘N Fun race team since the store opened 15+ years ago.

What are your PRs?

Mile - 4:55 (road)
3,000 - 9:35 (track)
5,000 - 16:21 (track)
10,000 – 32:50.79 (track)
Marathon – 2:46:52

You’ve been praised for maintaining your consistency year after year. What do you attribute that to?
I believe my racing consistency is partly due to my training consistency. I (knock on wood) have been fairly injury-free which has allowed me to train year after year. I try to be very aware of the little aches and pains and address them before they turn into something major. Probably the biggest reason for my consistency is having a husband and family that are extremely supportive of my running and racing. My husband Chris [Celichowski] writes my workouts and tries to make sure we juggle our schedules so I have time to get out the door and train. The kids are my cheerleaders.

What is your training philosophy?
My training philosophy is simple. Focus on getting in those couple key workouts each week and everything else is frosting on the cake. I don’t have set days when I do workouts, I just squeeze them in around my work schedule and the kids’ activities. I strive to make sure each run has a purpose.

Always near the top of the Runner of the Year standings, how do you feel about your racing so far this year?
My racing this year has been mediocre. Recently, I have been more encouraged about my training and race performances. Hopefully I can finish out the year strong.

What goals do you have for the rest of the year?
I am planning to run Twin Cities Marathon and maybe a few cross country races. Even though I am a masters runner I still really enjoy cross country…guess it makes me think I’m back in college.

What do you consider your strengths? Weaknesses?
Durability is probably my greatest strength. I am grateful I have not experienced an injury that has sidelined me for an extended period of time. Another strength is probably mental toughness and the ability to focus. When the gun goes off, the “mom” hat is replaced with the “runner” hat. I don’t hear or see much when I race.

Weaknesses include dark chocolate and Salted Nut Rolls. Oh...you mean running weaknesses. Well, those would include speed workouts and stretching. I know they are both things I need to work on but somehow I just don’t spend the time I should on either of them. That can be my New Year’s resolution for 2008.

In addition to your own running, you have 2 children that are actively involved in running. What advice do you have for other parents whose kids are interested in running?
If your child expresses an interest in running, take them to a road race and have them watch. There is so much excitement and energy at races to inspire people of all ages to try running. Have them try a very short distance kid’s race, something that will give them the confidence and desire to run another one. Run with them if they would like. Most kids love the experience and will be eager to try another. Be an example for your child. Start running. Take them on a very short run with you. Young children do not need to run long distances. As they get older, encourage them to try cross country and/or track regardless if their goal is to be a recreational runner or world class athlete.

You and your husband started a track club in Minnetonka. How long has the club been around and who else is involved?
Chris and I started the Minnetonka Running Club for kids 7 years ago. For the first few years, it was just the two of us leading the club, but as our numbers grew we recruited the help of Jeff Renlund, the Minnetonka High School boy’s cross country coach. We have approximately 100 children that participate each year now.

What is the goal of the club?
Our goal is to encourage kids to be active and introduce them to the sport of running/track and field while having fun at the same time. We run relays on the track, do the high jump, long jump, obstacle courses, running games, short trail runs, etc. We also invite the parents to join along with the activities. It’s a great way for families to exercise together. We keep the atmosphere very light-hearted. Many high school sports have ‘feeder’ programs that start when children are very young. Cross country and track and field don’t typically have programs for grade school age children. This is our way of exposing children to these sports.

Have you guys been happy with your efforts?
We have been extremely happy with the club. Volunteering to do something you are passionate about is very rewarding. The smiles and laughs from the children really warm your heart and make every moment enjoyable. We also receive very positive feedback from the parents and the community. Now we are starting to see some of the kids who were in running club when they were younger competing in high school, which is exciting, too.

What is your fondest running memory?
I have so many. Unfortunately, my fondest memory is also my saddest. Our ISU cross country team came out of nowhere to finish second in the 1985 NCAA Div. I cross country meet in Milwaukee. Each individual on our team ran a great race – a true team effort. The second place finish exceeded our highest expectations. The entire team was in disbelief and overwhelmed with joy. Hours later the plane carrying my head coach (Ron Renko), assistant coach (Pat Moynihan), student trainer (Stephanie Streit), and three teammates (Julie Rose, Sheryl Maahs and Sue Baxter) crashed on approach just short of the DesMoines airport and everyone on board died. It went from a day of total triumph to utter tragedy. I have tears of joy and sadness every time I remember the day.

Do you have a favorite local and/or national race?
Some of my favorite local races include Human Race, Get in Gear, Victory 10K, Twin Cities Marathon or 10 mile. Outside Minnesota, I really like Dam to Dam 20k (Des Moines), Fifth Season 8K(Cedar Rapids) and Midnight Madness 10K(Ames).

If you could run with any Minnesotan, past or present, who would it be?
When I was younger, I admired and looked up to Janis Klecker. What an honor it would be to run with an Olympian. It is ironic that now I run with her weekly. She accomplished so much as a runner and is content now to focus on her family and career. We use our runs to share the joys and challenges of parenting.

Finally, what do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started running?
Days off are a wonderful thing.


Anonymous said...

Bonnie -- Stephanie Streit was my best friend from the time we were four years old. She was the friend that always pushed the hardest and loved the most when needed. I am so glad you continue to run. "Ain't nothin' gonna break your stride!"

Margaret Schiefen Stine

Chad said...


If you get this, send me an email at; chadaustin AT charter DOT net and I'll get you in touch with Bonnie.

Coach Nancee said...

How can we find out more about the running club? Is it year round and what are the ages? I have a teen (16 years old) looking for a running group with more people her age. Thanks for the info.

Chad said...

nm, here's Bonnie's response.

Information for the Minnetonka Running Club can be found on the Minnetonka Community Education website in the spring when registration becomes available. The running club is for kids in kindergarten through 8th grade and is a five week program that starts in late July. We do a group warm-up and light stretching. Then we divide the children up into groups and do age appropriate running activities with them. These activities may include a short trail run, running games, relays, obstacle course, mini hurdles, high jump, etc. The emphasis is having fun while you exercise.

I'm not aware of a running club for teenagers other than your local high school cross country and track programs. You may want to check with a neighborhood YMCA or health club to see if they offer such a program.

Here is the Minnetonka Community Education website.

Laura said...

Hi Bonnie, I don't know if you remember me or not. I went to ISU with you and lived in the Maple dorms. I remember you convinced me in the summer of '87 to go on twice daily runs with a group of girls attending a summer running camp. I could barely keep up! We ate together at the Towers and even got yogurt at TCBY one time. You inspired me to keep running! Years later, I would run my first marathon in 1997 and again in 1998.I still love running and every once in awhile think of you and your fallen ISU teammates, especially this time of the year. I'm glad to see you're doing so well! God bless! Laura Beal (Claman)

Sarah Sams said...

Thinking of you and your fallen teammates on this 25th anniversary of the tragic plane crash. I also attended ISU and had several classes with Stephanie Streit.

Mary Streit Mueller said...

Hi, Bonnie. I am Stephanie's sister and talked to you at Northwest a few years ago. How are you doing? Are you still working at Delta? I am on facebook under Mary Streit Mueller.
Take care,

Anonymous said...

Hello Bonnie,

I am a former press photographer (now occasional freelancer) who covered some of the Big 8 cross country and track meets and Drake Relays, and I was at the district cross-country meet in Oklahoma in 1985. I was an acquaintance of Sheryl Maahs and also of one of the K-State runners. It had rained before that meet, and after the race, the runners all had mud splattered up their backs. I remember watching the Iowa State womens' team after the race posing for a picture, lined up looking back over their shoulders to show the mud. I've kicked myself ever since for just watching and not also taking that picture - it was a classic moment forever burned in my mind.

I watched you race quite a number of times at various events during your ISU career, and it's great to see that you are still enjoying running and that your children are also (at least at the time this blog was originally posted) enjoying running.

Best wishes,

Jeff Martin
Native Iowan, former ISU student
Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan