May 28, 2017 08:07 PM
(ABC 6 News) -- Hundreds of runners took to the streets for the 22nd annual Med City Marathon Sunday, but for Natalie Droessler, the race took on another meaning.
Droessler's father, 65-year-old Reggie Oeltjen of Stewartville, was celebrating his birthday by running nearly 300 miles across Minnesota when he died in his sleep earlier this week.
He and Droessler had planned to participate in the Med City Marathon, a race he had run several times previously, but after his death, Droessler decided to run the event in his honor. She, along with several of his running friends, ran the 13.1-mile half marathon as a way to pay tribute to Oeltjen.
Droessler said Oeltjen was always helping her get across the finish line by cheering her on, so now that he's gone she's hoping his friends will help her make it through the race.
"It's very meaningful. I didn't expect such a huge outpour of support and love from this community, but I should have known because he's run here for years and loved the running community here and all the people he's run with," she said.
Droessler said her father would have been surprised by the support she and her family received.
"I know that he knew he had a lot of friends and liked a lot of people here and had a good group, but I think he'd be a little surprised that it was made to be such a big deal," she said.
Droessler crossed the finish line in one hour, 59 minutes at 14 seconds, just under her two-hour goal. The marathon took runners from Byron Elementary School through Rochester to the Mayo Civic Center.
23-year-old Jackson Lindquist of Carlton, Minnesota was the first finisher in the full marathon, clocking in at two hours, 34 minutes and 25 seconds.
Full race results are available here: http://finaltiming.com/results/medcitymarathon
Updated: May 28, 2017 08:07 PM
Created: May 28, 2017 06:51 PM
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