On most Sundays in the summer and fall, Ryan Tholen and Karli Tholen will take a long run in Camden State Park.
The Tracy-Milroy-Balaton siblings say running on the elevated terrain helps them prepare for cross country courses that have larger hills than normal.
That seemed to be the case Saturday at the University of Minnesota Roy Griak Invite at Les Bolstad Golf Course in Minneapolis.
Ryan, a senior for TMB, took second place for the second straight year in the maroon division race with a time of 16:43. Karli, a freshman for the Panthers, finished 25th with a time of 20:42.
Ryan, who was ranked third in the latest Class A state cross country coaches poll, said he usually runs Camden at a slow pace and goes 10 to 12 miles.
"I think it does help me," he said. "It's up and down a lot and there are some bigger hills than I'm used to. It's good to run there. I think it helped me at (Roy Griak). The golf course has a lot of hills and I don't know how else I would've prepared for a race like that. I've run on a lot of courses, but none have hills like the one (in Minneapolis). I'm more used to a course that has a big, long hill and then just goes flat. That's where Camden pays off."
Karli doesn't run as long as her brother, typically around five miles.
"I do my long run for the week there," she said. "I think that really helped us both for (Roy Griak). We both did a different weightlifting program in the summer and I think that helped, too. I definitely feel like I have more speed this year. You really need that extra burst for the last part of a race."
Ryan is the premiere boys runner in the southwest corner of the state while Karli is still an up-and-comer. Their last name also carries a lot of weight in cross country circles. Ryan's hoping to contend for a state title this year after taking fourth last season. Karli is hoping she can do what her older brother is doing some day. She event thinks making the Class A state meet may be a long shot for her.
"I just need to get to state before I worry about contending for a state title," she said. "I don't care where I place at the section meet, I just want to go to state. I just want to take what I did in the summer and expand on it."
Ryan, who is being recruited by Dordt (Iowa), Minnesota State-Mankato and Augustana (S.D.) is trying to stay healthy before the state meet. He tries to watch his step as much as possible.
"I'm kind of living in fear," he joked. "I have to watch what I do. I'm not playing basketball so I land on my foot wrong or jumping out of my car or anything."
Ryan ran between 250-300 miles this summer. He feels like that work could pay off against the top-ranked runner in the state, Pequot Lakes' Clayton Foster, and the No. 2 runner, Warroad's Moses Heppner.
"I was hoping to see those guys at Roy Griak, but they weren't there. I wanted to see how I stacked up against them. But as far as state goes, I have to go into it feeling no pressure. I have to run my race and leave everything out there. If I run well, I'll be happy. I could be first, or 10th. Pressure can be a big thing in a meet like that. First of all, you have to get there. Something might happen before it."
Ryan said he was feeling a little tired after racing at the MCC Invite last week. He took a few days off and sat in an ice bath twice.
Ice baths? I guess only cross country runners could enjoy such a thing.
Ryan enjoys watching his sister compete. He's hoping they'll be running on the same day again at this year's state meet.
"She ran a lot faster at Roy Griak this year. She didn't place as high, but she ran faster. That's something to be proud of," he said.