A scheduling conflict has prompted the Wild Hog Half Marathon to bring a new guest speaker to Grand Forks for the race weekend in September.
The Grand Forks’ race now plans to host Bart Yasso, chief running officer for Runner’s World magazine. He is scheduled to speak at 7:45 p.m. Sept. 25.
The event, now in its fourth year, will feature a 5K starting at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 25, while the half marathon, 10K and half marathon relay begin at 8 a.m. Sept. 26.
Yasso replaces legendary marathoner Frank Shorter, who canceled due to double booking appearances on the same weekend, according to Wild Hog race officials. Despite the scheduling conflict, officials said Shorter committed to visiting Grand Forks in 2016, when the race is expected to offer the marathon, a distance of 26.2 miles, for the first time.
A popular ambassador, author and speaker for the sport, Yasso invented the Yasso 800s, a marathon-training schedule used by runners to accurately predict marathon finisher times. He’s been labeled as the “mayor of running,” and in 1987 joined Runner’s World as a liaison between the magazine and race directors. He also has been inducted into the Running USA Hall of Champions.
The bio on Yasso’s website states, “He is one of the few people to have completed races on all seven continents from the Antarctica Marathon to the Mt. Kilimanjaro Marathon. … He has also completed the Ironman five times and the Badwater 146 through Death Valley. He has also cycled, unsupported and by himself, across the country twice.”
As a magazine writer and author of “My Life on the Run,” Yasso has been praised as insightful and humorous. He also suffers from Lyme disease, a painful condition that makes it difficult to run.
An extensive 2010 Runner’s World article chronicled Yasso’s attempt to run the Comrades Marathon, a 56-mile race in South Africa.
Shorter, the only U.S. man to win an Olympic gold medal, will be the guest in what could be the inaugural Wild Hog Marathon. Shorter was the men’s marathon winner at the 1972 Olympics and is credited with igniting the first running boom in the U.S., during the 1970s. He was inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame in 1984 and the USA National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1989.
Dick Beardsley, a former marathoner and record holder at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn., was the event’s 2014 guest speaker, while Carrie Tollefson, another Minnesota-born runner who was a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic team, had the honor in 2013.