I’ve covered Joe Kortenhof a number of times in my time at Lawrence. I didn’t exactly have a choice – Joe dominated the cross-country scene in 2019 and 2020, and his name was always next to some sort of achievement. He was an all-conference champion four times in his career, as well as the owner of the third-best 8000-meter time in school history. In 2019, Joe received All-Midwest Region Honors, and upon accepting a NCAA Division III championships, he posted a 52nd place finish. It’s a shame athletics in 2020 were cut so short for COVID measures – by that time, Kortenhof had added two conference track titles to his it’s no surprise that Joe is continuing to pursue athletics after Lawrence, and he just reached another impressive 52nd place at the 2022 Boston Marathon.
This past fall marked Joe’s first marathon run, new for an athlete that specialized in intense and far shorter runs. However, this didn’t prevent him from picking up a solid 2:24:36 in New Hampshire at the Manchester City Marathon. Such a time proved he could very well handle a tough marathon, and he set out to train by reaching out to a former coach of his from Lincoln High School in Portland. Suzanne Perry, a teacher of cross country and an experienced runner herself, laid out a plan for training over the course of three months – much of which took place during the harsh East Coast winter. Thankfully, equally punishing snowstorms in Appleton gave him plenty of preparation for these conditions.
During the race, he had some solid motivation as well – competition with a former rival. Lake Forest runner Jorge Villanueva joined him on the day of the marathon, an athlete with his own repertoire of success. In 2018 and 2019, Villanueva received MVP honors back-to-back, with an All-Midwestern Conference Award in the 10000-meter run and an Academic All-Midwestern Conference award in ’18 as well.
The seasoned runner was helpful to compete with, according to Joe: “We ran the first 12 miles of the race together, and he helped me keep the pace pretty conservative at the start. I was thankful for him to be there. Because I was more conservative at the start, about halfway through I felt amazing and then I was able to start picking up the pace.” Kortenhof’s good management of pace allowed him to break through the second half of the race, where most runners find their biggest challenge. Heartbreak Hill, a 20-mile marker on the Marathon’s path, is a steep uphill section. Joe didn’t see it as a downside, though, and had his mind set on the finish: “It was pretty much downhill for the last six miles of the race and it was amazing.” The refreshment of a downhill run set him up for the 52nd place finish – 185 places above his Lake Forest rival.