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Continued: Minnesota marathoner: 'I'm going to die in my tennis shoes'

  • Article by: JEREMY OLSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: November 6, 2013 - 11:12 PM

“Oh, ok,” her daughter responded. “Just half marathons.”

Johnson inspired others to run and keep running.

Cindy Deuser of Fargo, N.D., recalled that Johnson always finished 26.2 miles with perfect hair and grace.

“Whenever I saw her (and we often ran in the same finishing time group) I would tell myself, ‘That’s who I want to be. That’s what I want to do,’ ” she wrote in a tribute on Johnson’s obituary on the San Jose Mercury News website.

Judy Tollefson, 52, worked at the Rainbow Resort in Waubun, Minn., where Beardsley held his camps. She always complained that her bad knees would prevent her from running — until she served food to Johnson and talked with her. Tollefson later ran a half-marathon herself.

“Joy was a sweet little lady with a great smile,” she said. “I said, ‘If she can do it, I should be able to do it, too. What was my excuse? I’m too old?’ ”

Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744

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