La Velle E. Neal III
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La Velle E. Neal III's 3-2 Pitch: Three observations and two predictions every Sunday.


Every fall, Michaela Kofoed and fellow family members line the street on Summit Avenue in St. Paul, near the 25-mile mark, and cheer on loved ones running in the Twin Cities Marathon.

The post-race party is two blocks away, at an aunt and uncle's home. Kofoed has been there as a toddler, teenager and now as an adult with as many as 30 other marathon fans.

As far as participating in the race, she was a gym rat and not a runner. Kofoed thought for years that her family members were nuts for training for the grueling event. But on Sunday, she will become latest member of the clan to run the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon — just 16 months after becoming a runner.

"I was going to the gym pretty much every day," Kofoed said. "When COVID hit, I couldn't go to the gym anymore. So I was like, 'All right, I guess I'll start running."'

She began in May 2020. After taking the winter off, she started running again this spring and was hooked. Then she realized that running is in the family DNA, like Festivus was to the Costanzas.

Her grandfather, Harry Carlson, participated in the first 23 Twin Cities Marathons. Kofoed's mother, Christine Anderson, and aunt Elaina Carlson, ran some with Grandpa, too. Once Harry, now 77, stopped participating, uncle Mike Carlson ran in five marathons.

Cousins and second cousins joined in, too. Kofoed said there was a gap between 2009 and 2015 when no one in the immediate family took part, and there were only half-marathoners in 2019. The other years there were Andersons and Carlsons on the route from downtown Minneapolis, around the popular lakes in town, then on to the State Capitol in St. Paul. Then the post-race gathering.

Kofoed, 28, is a senior manufacturing supervisor at a 3M plant in Hutchinson. With help from her husband, Justin, they also sell a device — Aqua Weed Stick — that removes weeds from boat trailers. Her spring running program, except for occasional objections from some body parts, went so well she decided to join in on the family tradition.

"I said, 'All right, I'm going to sign up and do the marathon,' " she said. "My dad (Scott Anderson) actually had started running more often during COVID for the same reason. When he heard I was going to run, he said he was going to run with me. My dad and I are running our first marathon ever on Sunday."

Kofoed never made the big 20-mile training run that most make before the race. She will rely on adrenaline and thoughts of the post-race celebration near Summit Avenue to get her across the finish line.

Can Towns back up the talk?

The biggest development of the week for the Wolves was when Karl-Anthony Towns spoke on Wednesday and acknowledged that this will be a big season for him. He's watching players from his draft class have more success than him, and he wants in.

Bingo. The Wolves need to improve defensively. Anthony Edwards is on the path to stardom. Jaden McDaniels could become a nice two-way player. But what also has held the Wolves back is that their most talented player needs to step up and bring his teammates along for the journey.

He doesn't have scream and rant like Jimmy Butler, but Towns has to show he has enough alpha in him to make the Wolves an annual playoff team. He's in terrific shape. "I'm mentally ready for the season," he said.

Wolves fans are mentally ready to see more than one playoff appearance in 17 seasons.

Ohtani bids for MVP

There is significant support for Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani to win the AL Most Valuable Player Award, and rightfully so. He entered the final weekend of the season with 45 home runs, 98 RBI and 26 steals. He is 9-2 on the mound with a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 130 ⅓ innings.

If I had a vote this year, I would give it to Ohtani. I anticipate that there will be some support for Toronto's Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. This is a plea not to flame those who believe that helping a team win factors into MVP decisions. The Blue Jays are in a wild-card fight. Guerrero was on the fringe of the Triple Crown a few weeks ago before falling off the pace. He's having a monster season.

The Angels didn't sniff the playoffs, but Ohtani excelled at two positions and should win. But I won't think Guerrero supporters are idiots if they vote for him.

... and two predictions ...

OBJ will go big

The Vikings-Browns game will go down to the wire. But the call here is that Odell Beckham Jr. will be the fourth wideout with more than 100 receiving yards against the Vikes defense.

Boldy statement

The Wild have an opening on the fourth line and Matt Boldy is having a good camp. Look for the first-round pick in 2019 to make the roster when the puck drops on the season.