5 More Questions: Fargo Marathon

Mark Knutson, the Fargo Marathon race director, again took time out of his busy schedule to answer more questions about this year’s events.

In the lastest newsletter, Mark projected the longer events — marathon, half marathon and 10K — would all reach capacity by May 1. That’s a week from today. There’s also a new mobile phone app available.

In February, I asked 5 questions in the first “Catching up with the race director” series. Below, you’ll find the second round of 5 questions. (You might even catch a glimpse of beavers in Trefoil Park.)

Q. This year, the course features more north Fargo neighborhoods and several miles in Moorhead, including both the MSUM and Concordia College campuses. What type of feedback have you received about this year’s course?

Mark Knutson: So far the feedback has been very positive. The north Fargo section is always my favorite way to start off the marathon due to the awesome roads, scenery and fans — very gentle turns in the Edgewood area. We are also utilizing the new bike path that Fargo Parks put in around Trefoil Park and east of Mickelson Field. Most people don’t know about this updated path. The Moorhead section is going to be excellent this year! MSUM and Concordia will be crazy, exciting with fans, music, etc. Then, the other new piece that we’ve never done before is Gooseberry Park and Lindenwood Park. Again, all new for the Fargo Marathon! Seventh, Eighth and Ninth streets are FULL of bands and music this year! Broadway is a staple of this event and the last mile will go through NDSU — and just like the other two campuses, it will be a BIG energy zone to get people through the final mile!

Q. If registered runners want to switch races, will they be able to? If so, how can they go about making the switch?

MK: Our Race Transfer date has expired (April 1), so we don’t have an option to switch now. If they want to register for a different event, they have until May 1st to do so.

Q. The guest speaker lineup always seems to be impressive. This year, Deena Kastor, the American record holder for the marathon, will be the keynote speaker. What do you expect Deena’s message to be? Will she be running any of the events?

MK: I have heard Deena speak one other time, and I’m VERY excited to have her join us this year. As incredibly fast and successful as she is, her message is very “down to earth” for all runners, focusing on what running does for your soul and “enjoying the journey of running”

Q. What advice do you have for spectators who plan to watch finishers Saturday inside the Fargodome? What’s the best parking strategy for them?

MK: I would recommend getting to the Fargodome as early as possible. Doors open at 5:30 a.m. I have actually encouraged many people to take I-29 to Cass County Rd 20, then go south on University Drive, avoiding the congestion that will take place on 12th Avenue North and 19th Avenue North.

Q. The Fargo Marathon always seems to attract fast runners from the region and country. Who will be in the elite field this year?

MK: Not me :) We have a great Elite Field this year. It’s still an Olympic Trials qualifying year, so we’ve had a number of inquiries from runners regarding that. In Fargo, it always seems to come down to the weather for course records.

No shortcuts

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” — Beverly Sills

Thousands of runners took to the streets of Boston today, including dozens from across North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota.

For some, the quest to run a marathon started as a bucket list item, but turned into something more. Like many runners, the goal to run the Boston Marathon seemed like a worthy pursuit. Training takes a lot of time and dedication, but even the busiest people find a way to make it happen: Minnesota State University Moorhead President Anne Blackhurst was among those headed to Boston to run.

Tenielle Klubben was among those who dedicated her marathon to a special cause.

To find times for runners from the Grand Forks region, scroll to the bottom of the story on the Herald’s website.

And how quickly time passes for those training for the Fargo Marathon.

In less than 3 weeks, runners will be taking to the streets of Fargo and Moorhead, with a unique twist: starting and finishing inside the Fargodome, heading into north Fargo residential neighborhoods from the start and spending more miles in Moorhead.

The starting line

“I don’t rate myself as a fantastic, talented athlete. I just have perseverance. I’m a cart horse. I work hard.” –Colleen DeReuck, four-time Olympian

Anyone who has trained for a marathon knows it can be grueling. It can be physically taxing, mentally grueling and emotionally draining.

Add in an injury, family commitments and work, and there is no shortage of challenges to derail even the best of plans. That’s one of the reasons I’ve always lined up at the start knowing the toughest miles are behind me. The toughest part of a marathon is reaching the starting line. The race is the reward.

Sometimes i didn’t believe that I’d make it to the starting line. A few times, in the days leading up to a marathon, I doubted my ability to finish.

Eventually, I learned that perseverance was the most important aspect of my training. If it weren’t for perseverance, I wouldn’t have finished many of my trail races. If it weren’t for perseverance, I would have bailed on many long runs. The singular belief that I could tough it out has helped me out time and time again.

Last Sunday’s long run in Fargo was a perfect example. With gale-force winds, I needed a plan to finish at least 16 miles. Luckily, my brother gave me a ride to south Fargo, where I headed into the wind and endured the worst of the conditions for the first 5 miles. There was no choice of opting out — my only way of returning to his house on the northside was to run.

It’s symbolic of the past 6 weeks. Mileage has suffered, in large part to a bothersome sciatic nerve, but I’ve done every speed and endurance workout. Lost miles on the easy days, though, have yielded historically low training mileage. One trail half marathon left me limping and sore for days. A few days later, another long trail race left me suffering from heat exhaustion that has hampered my running for weeks. Allergies, unusual for me this time of year, made it difficult to breath for weeks.

But I will persevere.

Slowly and surely I’m on the mend. So while the miles may not be piling up as I had hoped, past experience offers the hope: anything can happen on race day.