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Archives: Former Get in Gear Director Not Slowing Down

Updated: May 13

Paulette Odenthal has enjoyed a long personal history with Get in Gear, which this year runs on Saturday, April 29.

At the 1996 event, she remembers fighting a chilly headwind on the Ford Bridge prior to clocking 38:51 for her 10K and finishing fourth in her age-group only days after running in the 100th Anniversary Boston Marathon.

Two years later she was the event’s race director, staging two editions of Minnesota’s Annual Rite of Spring on the St. Paul side of the river near the old Ford Plant, before returning Get in Gear to a renovated original home at Minnehaha Park in 2000.

In her 25 years leading the event she added 5K and half marathon distances, expanded the award-winning kids component of the event, planned around Minnesota’s fickle spring weather, and kept the event alive after two consecutive Covid cancellations before its triumphant, if rainy, return in 2022.

This year, however, she’ll do something she’s never done at Get in Gear: Sound the start horn for races as the event’s official starter.

“I have never had the race starter position and am looking forward to this opportunity,” Paulette told The Connection, adding that she expects the role and the day to be personally moving.“A mixture of many emotions and thoughts when at the start line of an event that I had invested so much time, energy and passion into for 25 years and that is still now able to continue with the TCM organization for its future.

Since acquiring Get in Gear last fall, Twin Cities In Motion has sought Paulette’s advice in the planning of this year’s event and offered her the official starter position in recognition of her long tenure with the race and in the running community.

“I loved my position and the many collaborations needed to make it all happen and many people ended up as good friends,” she noted. “That part I miss. The intense pressure cooker feeling leading up to race day is not missed as much.”

Not surprisingly for a life-long runner (including 100+ marathons starting with the 1984 Twin Cities Marathon.) and longtime race director, post-Get in Gear Paulette happily remains active as a runner and an organizer. She continues to serve as Minnesota’s Road Runners Club of America representative and organizes the Run the Ritter trail race each November in Lakeville.

“I've always been active in volunteering and that has not changed,” she shared. “I do love being involved and an advocate in the sport of running, both roads and trails. Personally, I have running and hiking adventures always planned and am not done with achieving goals in that capacity because being active is important to enjoying life."

Paulette recently achieved her goal of completing a solo, unsupported, 45-mile, non-stop Grand Canyon crossing and return. After eleven crossings and returns punctuated by overnight stays, it became a goal to complete the round-trip in one go.

“I was done in 28 hours,” she said. “It was a very hard but magical adventure that I am thrilled to have been able to do without incident.”

And, Paulette still has goals for the event she directed for the previous 25 years.

“I would love to see the numbers climb to the 10,000 mark once again and believe it can be achieved as the known “Annual Rite of Spring” in Minnesota running.”

This article originally appeared in the TCM's weekly e-newsletter, The Connection, in 2023. Subscribe to the Connection here.



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