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Minn. Runner Falls, Then Finishes In 1st

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INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, Minn. (WCCO) – There’s no doubt that she is a gifted runner, but Heather Kampf is also great at motivating kids to be active. The Inver Grove Heights native’s specialty is the 800 meter, but it was one 600 meter race, while running with the Gophers, she’s most famous for.

At the 2008 Big 10 Indoor Track Championships, Kampf was running in second place and made a move for the lead with one lap to go.

She fell hard, falling to last place in a distant fourth. She ended up passing the running in third place, and then second, and won the race at the last possible moment.

“I think it was a touch from God that came at the right time,” said Kampf.

The miraculous finish was enough to win the meet for the University of Minnesota.

Four years later, Kampf takes her love for running to schools in the Twin Cities. At Stevenson Elementary in Fridley, she’s helped a LifeTime Fitness program that teaches kids how to live healthier.

“We just feel that getting kids active and engaged in their own personal life and in their health it will help them in school no matter what else they’re doing in their lives,” said Karin Beckstrand, a teacher in the Fridley School District and active leader in the program.

While visiting the school, Kampf led the kids in different races in the gym.

“One was a relay race where you got to pass the tag thing back and forth,” said student Amaya Jefferson, who enjoyed the extra activities.

The kids had chances to ask Kampf questions about being a professional runner, although some kids couldn’t help but ask about her personal life — Is she married? How old is she? Does she have a dog?

“She said you don’t have to be a runner when you’re little. You can be a runner when you’re older,” said one student.

“I’m hoping they take away a message of just knowing never to give up and the race isn’t over until you cross that finish line,” said Kampf.

Kampf made Team USA Minnesota in 2009 and is currently training for the U.S. Olympic Trials in June. She plans to compete in both the 800 and 1500 meter races.

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