Friday, March 23, 2012


Judy Cronen began running when men first walked on the moon. Forty-three years later the 71-year-old Lakeville resident is still at it.  Over the course of her career she's earned 13 Runner of the Year titles in Minnesota.  Not bad for someone who was always worried that in school her P.E. grade would bring down her G.P.A.

At what age did you get involved with running?

I started running when I was 28.

Did success come quickly for you?
No. I ran for 8 years before I entered my first race and then it took me another 3 years before I placed in my age group.

Since 1987 you’ve won 13 Runner of the Year titles. That makes you the second most decorated woman behind Gloria Jansen. Did you ever imagine that you’d have such a long, successful career on the roads?
I never imagined that I could have a running career like I have had. In school, my Phy Ed grade was always like C+ or B- and I was worried it would take me off the honor roll.

Over the years you’ve had to battle the likes of Marilyn Schnobrich and Kathy Peterson over and over for those ROY titles. In 2010 Dorthy Marden beat you by 3 points and last year you edged Sandra Dalquist by a mere point. Are these battles enough to motivate you year-in and year-out or what is it that keeps you racing every year?
I love to see my running friends and inspire new runners. I want to maintain my weight and remain healthy. Running races play a big part in this life style.

With the 2012 racing season right around the corner, what are your goals for the year?
I will try to increase my speed and work on the hills.  I had a terrible St. Pat's race due to the heat.  I have a lot of work ahead of me.

What are your PRs?

5K – 20:12
8K – 34:58
10K – 41:57
10M – 1:17:06
Half – 1:38:59
25K – 2:06:29

In general, what is your training philosophy and how has it changed over the years?
I run three times a week, usually for 45 minutes to one hour. When I was younger I also used to jump rope and this helped with my quickness. I believe in cross training and include biking, ice skating, golf, x-c skiing and snow shoeing.

What are your strengths?
I exercise every day and I’m very scheduled.

Now that I’m older I don’t push myself enough to work hard.

What is your fondest running memory?
Three things come to mind. First, standing on the stage after placing in my age group at the Bonnie Bell 10K, an all women’s race. Second, being awarded Minnesota Running Legend of the year by ALARC. Third, being the first woman overall in the same race where my son was the first male overall. That was at the Lakeville Pan-o-Prog when I was 40 and my son was 17.

Do you have a favorite local and/or national race?
In the past it was the Easy Does It. Now it’s the Back in Shape 5K.

If you could run with any Minnesotan, past or present, who would it be?
Mae Horns

Finally, what do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started running?
I should have enjoyed seeing my name in the newspaper more when I first started winning since race results aren’t printed in the newspaper any more.

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