They also had a half marathon, 10k, 5k, relay, kid’s run, furgo dog run (2 mile), and Go Far challenge (5k + another distance).
This race as been rated “best value marathon.” It gets 4.5/5 stars on the course, organization and fans over on MarathonGuide.com
The Fargo Marathon
I flew into the Fargo airport and it was so nice not having to hassle with a larger airport. The expo was only located a couple of miles from the airport too. The expo was held at the Fargo Dome (the stadium for the North Dakota State Bison) and had over 60 vendors.
Packet Pick Up
Packet pick up was available on Thursday evening and all day Friday. You could also pick up packets for others. They also allowed race transfers up to six weeks before race day. Parking was easy and there were lots of volunteers. The expo had some giveaways and a free picture if you signed up for the Scheels Under Armour drawing. The featured speaker for the expo was Ironman sensation Mark Allen.
Race swag include a quarter zip tech shirt for the marathon and long sleeve tech for the half. They also had what they were calling the “greatest race bags ever” that included a laminated tag with race number for gear check.
Staying in the Dorm
One of the lodging options was staying at the ND State University dorm which had a very reasonable rate for two nights. It was an old school dorm that included a private room, shared bathroom and was just a few blocks from the Fargo Dome where expo and starting line were.
It was weird to be staying back in a dorm and I realized that this year marks 20 years since I first went to college (and lived in a dorm for two years). Among the fun facts on a buliton board was this: “ND is the least visited state in the US.” I heard someone say that the marathon is the 5th largest source of tourism for Fargo and it was clear that people take great pride in the marathon and their town. It was interesting to be back in a college town with lots of young people around.
Because my room was so close to the starting line I actually got to sleep in a bit and not have to hurry to get there. I had previously laid out my “flat runner” self and attached my bib with Race Tape. I look my normal pre-race UCAN and walked to the Dome with a bottle of water. They also offered race morning shuttles from 6 locations in town to ease parking and traffic congestion.
The race start was inside the dome so you could sit in stadium chairs and wait if you got there early. I saw that Larry Macon was there. He has run over 1600 marathons and Chuck Engle was attempting to run a sub-3:00 in his 49th state (he finished 2:55). There were also a lot of Marathon Maniacs and 50 Staters there.
Pre-race they had music and announcements over the loud speaker. The race director Mark Knutson said a few words as did the mayor of Winnipeg, Manitoba and the Fargo mayor. A musician performed both the Canadian and US national anthems and there was a pre-race prayer. The race started at 7:30am with the wheelchairs going out first. The half marathon started at 8am and the 10k started after that.
The races started and finished inside the Fargo Dome. They had pace teams for the marathon ranging from 3:05-5:30 and for the half marathon 1:30-3:00. The marathon time limit was 7 hours and the half was 4 hours.
The course was really nice, flat and scenic with trees and flowers in bloom. It was well marked with volunteers or police at every intersection or turn. It went by ND State University, through some beautiful residential areas, through Lynnwood Park, crossed the Red River into Moorhead, MN and went by Moorhead State University, Concordia College and back through downtown Fargo and more residential areas. Fortunately much of the course was shaded because the weather started in the low 60’s and sunny and got to nearly 80 degrees by noon. There was also a breeze which was much appreciated.
At least every half mile there was a band or DJ with music and there were a lot of people out in the residential sections as course support. Some people had sprinklers on for runners to cool off. It seemed like many residents used the marathon as an unofficial start of the summer celebration.
One of the wonderful things about this race experience was that people were so friendly and there were plenty of enthusiastic volunteers along with good fan support and music. I even saw Elvis out on the course. There were some creative signs too.
“Toenail memorial service ahead.”
Another favorite said,
“You’re NOT almost there.”
But the best cheer ever along the course was by two young boys early in the marathon. They were saying,
“Go everyone! Go, every single person.”
They were equal opportunity fans. That made me chuckle the whole race.
The aid stations were located every 2 miles with water & sports drink and gels and oranges at miles 6 & 20. There were also some people who were handing out water and candy on their own.
I used UCAN for my personal fueling and it worked great as usual. I had 2 servings 30 minutes before the marathon and carried 2 servings in an 8z bottle. I took 2oz of this concentrated mixture at miles 5, 10, 15, and 20. Because the weather continued to heat up at aid stations I would drink one cup of water and dump a cup over my neck to cool off. I also used electrolytes.
Meeting Podcast Fans
During the race I met Shelby running her 4th marathon abd working on qualifying for Marathon Maniacs. I also saw Mary from OR, a longtime listener, who ran up alongside me. After the race I met Jillian, a new listener from MN who had just finished her 2nd marathon.
It was a very cool experience to finish inside the stadium. They had a Jumbotron with video footage of the finish, an announcer, and plenty of people inside to cheer. They also gave out an awesome medal modeled after the iconic Fargo Theater with the Bible verse, Hebrews 12:1, “Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us” on back. My finish time was 4:30:09. This was state #36 and marathon #45 for me.
Another thing I loved was the great post-race food including chocolate milk, bananas, cookies, chips, cookie dough, donut holes, and pizza. There were places for fans or runners to sit and spectate and wait afterward. Later in the day there was a pub crawl downtown (which I did not attend).
The male winner was Sammy Malakwen, 37 of MN, in 2:26:06. In the women’s race, Semehar Tesfaye, 25 of Minot ND, was the winner in 2:37:27. The marathon had 1494 finishers, the half had 4433, and the 10k had 2974 (average finish time for the marathon was 4:37).
Also Mentioned in This Episode
Race Bib Tape -developed by Academy member Tim Porter to replace safety pins. I used it at this marathon and it worked great!
Athletes Collective -high quality running gear without logos. Use the promo code “marathon” to save 15%. All orders include free shipping to US and Canada.