Special time of year

With so many races coming up, I’ve decided to post my column in The Forum on Monday, along with some helpful links to Web sites for more information:

"Something about the fall has always been special to me. There’s electricity in the air as students head back to campus.

The excitement of football season brings renewed hope for fans.

And for runners, there’s no better time to get outdoors and enjoy our sport.

A few years ago, after going through my first winter as a runner, I could hardly wait for spring. A winter of layering clothes, and struggling to stay warm, had me convinced that spring would be my favorite time to run.

More and more I’m convinced that the best running comes in the fall, when the weather often is consistent, cool and comfortable.

Lucky for runners, there are also a lot of terrific races – with an event almost every weekend through the end of October. Here’s a look at some of the upcoming races:

  • The fourth annual Run for the Red, benefiting the Minn-Kota Chapter of American Red Cross, is Thursday at Fargo’s Scheels All Sport
  • One of the area’s most popular races – the Dick Beardsley Half Marathon, is a perennial favorite of runners throughout the region. It will be held Saturday in Detroit Lakes, Minn.
  • A couple options are available Sept. 19 with the Bismarck Marathon and Walker (Minn.) North Country Trail Marathon offering both short and long distance races. Runners rave about the Bismarck race, while the Walker race presents an opportunity to go off road in a serene setting.
  • The Twin Cities Marathon weekend, Oct. 3-4, is one of the nation’s biggest running events, with all the details – from the expo to the organization of the races – just right. The weekend offers something for virtually every runner, and is terrific for families. There are several events, including a kids run, 5K, 10K and 10-mile run in addition to the marathon.
  • Another weekend, another pair of options, awaits runners Oct. 10, with the Sheyenne Shuffle Half Marathon and 5K in Valley City, N.D., and the inaugural running of the FM Half Marathon in the Fargo-Moorhead area.
  • One of the area’s most unique races of the year will be Oct. 17 when runners gather for the Filthy 5K trail race through Moorhead’s M.B. Johnson Park. Runners are guaranteed to get muddy, but have a lot of fun doing it in this cross-country style race.
  • Bring your best costume for the Oct. 31 Red River Run in Fargo’s Lindenwood Park to run a 15K or 5K race along the bike path with fall leaves in full color. With so many terrific races on the schedule, fall has become my favorite time of the year.

After training for the Twin Cities Marathon in each of the past two years, I’ve been at the peak of my fitness in fall, but often I find myself having to pick and choose which events to run. While a big fan of the Twin Cities race, the selection of terrific regional races has me rethinking my strategy for 2010.

Perhaps I’ll find a different marathon later in the season, or a winter destination race, so I can enjoy running in more of these great fall races. After all, it’s the best time of the year to run."

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