Olympic Legends of Minnesota: Bob Kempainen

Minnesota has had many illustrious cross country and track & field athletes throughout history. Some have been forgotten, and some are still competing, but one thing they all have in common? Being some of the greatest athletes this state has ever seen.

To qualify for this series the athlete has to have competed in high school track and/or cross country in Minnesota for at least one year, and competed in an Olympic event. In all there were 21 athletes that qualified for our series.

Bob Kempainen / Hopkins-Lindbergh High School (Minnetonka, MN) 1984 Graduate

103rd MN All-Time, 3200m in 9:16.95


PRs (outdoor):

3,0008:00.0 (1991)

5,00013:44.05 (1993)

10,00028:23.80 (1993)


PRs (road):

5K14;02 (1991)

10K28:58' (1991)

10M48:47 (1996)

Half-Marathon: 1:00:48' (1995)

Marathon: 2:08:47' (1994)



One of the top American marathon runners of the 1990s, Bob Kempainen first got his start at Hopkins-Lindbergh high school before making his way to Dartmouth College where he trained under the legendary Coach Vin Lananna. By the time Kempainens' senior year came around he ran a 28:42.51 10k which was good enough for third at NCAAs and a trip to the Olympic trials.


When Kempainen moved up to the marathon, that's when he had his big breakthrough. Kempainens first marathon was the Twin Cities Marathon where he ran a 2:12:12 which was good enough for second place.


The next year he ran his first U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials where he finished in third place, good enough for a spot at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. He placed 17th in Barcelona. A few years later he won the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials to snag a spot at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. He finished in 31st this time.


Overall he made two Olympic teams, finished second at the Twin Cities Marathon (1991), a seventh place finish in the Boston Marathon (1994), second place at the Los Angeles Marathon (1995), and two second-place finishes at the New York Marathon (1993 & 1994).

All historical results provided by MN Prep Track and Field/Cross Country