Lance & Sara Elliott

While Edina High School is justly seen as a hockey powerhouse, the winter sport accounts for only a fraction of the Hornets' total state championships. Edina's dogged high school cross country teams are also a force to be reckoned with and have garnered their fair share of state honors and national attention in recent years.

In 2013, at the Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) invitational in Portland, Oregon - the sport's unofficial national championship - the Edina Boys' Cross Country team even placed an impressive 10th in the overall rankings.

Edina residents Lance and Sara Elliott were as excited as anyone for this past season, and for good reason. The couple had not one, not two, but three sons on the roster this season. "All three run near the top of their age group," Sara explained. "Our son Sam, now in ninth grade, has even broken many of the all-time Edina records for his grade."
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
Where the trio got the aptitude and initiative to compete at this high level is no mystery. Lance is a nationally ranked runner in his own right. "After turning 40, Lance began competing in masters-level running events," Sara said. "His specialty is definitely the mile; in 2011, he ranked eighth in the world for all people over 40."

Lance is also an extremely versatile athlete. In addition to competing in some of the top track competitions in America, he also excels at long-distance races. "In 2013, Lance accomplished something that's maybe unprecedented," Sara explained. "He broke the 2 mark in the 800 meter, and then turned around and completed the Twin Cities Marathon with an impressive time of 2:36. Very few masters runners obtain either of those times, and it is unknown if any master runner has ever achieved both in the same year."

As any of the Elliotts can attest, success on track or field comes only after extensive training. Fortunately, the family lives in Edina's Harvey Lakes Neighborhood, in close proximity to many of the City's best places to run. "We typically run starting out from our house near South View Middle School," said Sara, who herself runs regularly for recreation and exercise. "We can go to and around Lake Cornelia, Rosland Park, and even Bredesen Park. It's great. ... Otherwise, we can simply run on the neighborhood streets."

However, this last option presents a set of problems that many runners and joggers have experienced in other corners of town, as well. "Edina has many busy streets, but not the extensive network of trails of other communities our size. It can be a challenge when vehicles, bikes, and pedestrians all need to share the same road."

The City has made some important strides in the right direction, in Sara's estimation. "New bike and pedestrian lanes across town, and increased public awareness efforts, have certainly made a difference."

There's still room for improvement, though, and the Elliotts are pushing for just that. "Additional trails and paths would be welcomed by most. ... For instance, it would be a dream to get on a trail somewhere near City Hall and be able to run along Minnehaha Creek all the way to Lake Harriet."

While nothing of the sort will take shape overnight, this is decidedly one family that's not afraid to take on long-distance challenges.