For the second year in a row, Karl Lenser, employee wellness coordinator at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, took first place in the men’s 55-59 age group at the Little Rock Half Marathon on March 3.
Overall, Lenser finished 27th out of around 3,900 runners with a time of 1 hour, 26 minutes, and 57 seconds. His identical twin brother, Kurt Lenser of Nashville, finished fourth in their age group and 72nd overall with a time of one hour and 34 minutes.
The race marks the 39th year the twin brothers have built a bond through a love of running and fitness.
“I was very pleased to get first in my age group,” Lenser said. “It’s fun to line up together with my brother and run. For the last 10 years, Kurt has known that I’d beat him, but it doesn’t bother him. I want him to do well, and he wants me to do well.”
The tradition began with two college students in need of a summer class. In 1979, as soon-to-be juniors at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, the brothers signed up for Jogging and Fitness 101.
“It’s funny how one class can change your life,” Lenser said. “We needed a physical activity credit to become juniors, and that is what started it all. We started doing races that summer and got hooked.”
The class inspired both brothers to continue their education, earn a master’s degree in exercise science, and go into health and wellness careers.
While Karl spends his days getting UA Little Rock employees in shape and teaching indoor cycling classes at Conway Regional Health and Fitness Center, his brother Kurt works as a personal trainer at Prairie Athletic Club in Franklin, Tennessee.
They also visit each other several times a year to compete in races. This marks the fourth year they have competed in the Little Rock Half Marathon together, though Karl has competed every year except for two.
“It’s just fun to still be able to compete with each other, visit, and tell war stories from past races,” Karl said. “We have the challenge of racing and seeing how well we can do.”
He also enjoyed seeing fellow UA Little Rock runners identified by new maroon T-shirts. To promote fitness and health among students and employees, UA Little Rock sponsored 98 Little Rock Marathon runners in the 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon categories.
“It’s pretty cool to see other runners and walkers wearing the Trojan T-shirt,” Karl said. “I have seen quite a few students and employees online holding up their finisher’s medals. It was a great, positive thing for the university to organize and promote Team UA Little Rock. It created camaraderie and a lot of positive energy on campus.”
In the upper right photo, twin brothers Kurt (left) and Karl Lenser (right) earned fourth and first place in the men’s 55-59 age group at the Little Rock Half Marathon.