Norfolk’s eighth annual Laugh-and-a-Half marathon had a familiar ring to it Saturday.
That’s because both of the winners of the female and male divisions of the 13.1-mile half-marathon were repeat champions.
What’s more, the two winners are both former Norfolkans — Christy (Harrison) Prang of Lincoln for the women and Addison Albin of Platte City, Mo., in the men’s division.
Interestingly enough, neither Prang — a 2001 Norfolk High School graduate — or Albin, who graduated from Norfolk High in 2005, ran competitively prior during their school years.
“I work in child welfare and actually just picked up running in 2010 as a way to relax and kind of decompress,” Prang said. “I started racing after I had my daughter, and started to do quite well, so I started to race for Women Race Nebraska — a club based in Lincoln that is all about empowering women at any level of racing.”
Prang, who is the training and prevention director at the Child Advocacy Center in Lincoln, has been with the Women Race Nebraska organization since 2015, joining after she had competed in the Boston Marathon.
Although she prefers half-marathons, Prang began her road to competing in major marathons in Omaha and San Francisco and since then has competed in major events throughout the country, including the Boston Marathon this past April.
“I picked up (running) pretty quickly. I ran in a competitive Lincoln half-marathon in 2013 and placed, and thought I’d train up for a full (marathon) and see how competitive I could be,” she said.
Prang, who describes herself as primarily self-trained, followed the 2015 Boston Marathon with a “pretty competitive time of 3:25” in the Arizona Marathon in 2017.
“Halves are kind of my thing. I couldn’t begin to count how many halves I’ve run, but I’ve run eight fulls,” she said. “I wasn’t on today; I got lucky — I’m very blessed, very fortunate, with a strong supportive family and work system. Halves are what I’m most competitive at.”
Prang has participated in the Laugh-and-a-Half-Marathon several times, placing multiple times prior to her consecutive wins the past two years.
“I think there was one year I missed, but I’ve run in it and placed in it pretty consistently,” she said. “I think it’s a well-run race and well-organized. It’s my home town, and I love my home town. ”
Albin, who earned his third Laugh-and-a-Half-Marathon win Saturday, said he also took up running basically based on a whim.
“You couldn’t have gotten me to run a mile in high school to save my life, but I started doing some running while attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and I decided I was going to graduate and I would run a 10K,” he said. “I was hooked.”
Albin — who works as a logistics manager at Peter Kiewit in the Kansas City area — said he has had to “bounce back” from injuries on several occasions but has continued to pursue the enjoyment he gets from running. He has traveled to compete in the New York City Marathon (2014 and 2016) and to Minnesota for the Twin Cities Marathon, among others, and is scheduled to compete in New York City again later this year.
Albin said he and his wife, Megan (who finished third in her age group), are “serial racers” — traveling to and competing at the same races.
“It’s a big deal to have somebody alongside you that ‘gets it’ with you. We go to all the races together,” he said. “We’re here because it’s the hometown race; all of the family is here. It’s something special to come home.”
The Norfolk event was organized by the New 94 Rock and Faith Regional Health Services and featured races of different lengths, all at Ta-Ha-Zouka Park.
“Despite the heat, it was a wonderful morning for a run,” event coordinator Lydee Jo Krueger said. “We had 407 racers registered, from New Jersey to Chicago, to Minnesota, plus hundreds of people from the Northeast Nebraska area.”