13 May 2015

Fargo Marathon 2015: Truth, Justice, and the American Way

It is a cold run man
The biggest story from the marathon probably has been- it was cold. The second and lesser known story I will discuss in a later post. A third does exist but it is more romantic. And that being said there were not too many interesting shots  to get since most people were bundled up good. The only thing I did not see was someone running in a ski mask, but I suppose that I might have missed that one.
The marathon was fortunate to be run during the best weather of the weekend. As the weekend progressed the temperatures and precipitation made for a much cooler Fargo than previous years. But having the race this early in May is hit or miss with the weather. 2 of last years top finishers did not even run despite being registered. I would not say the conditions were adverse. They were good but certainly not ideal. The biggest challenge for running in Fargo is wind.  Nonetheless 20,000 is certainly a good draw for a race in cooler weather. Starting indoors certainly helped.
Costumes were a rarity this year. There were a few tutus. And there were a few costumes I did not recognize as a costume. Would have been a great year for costumes. So I will serve up what I captured.

Super Girl gave a super smile and wave to the camera and then sped off to keep warm in order to finish the half marathon.

Super Girl give us a wave
Yet again Superman showed that he is still the man of steel by running the marathon. Superman's outfit looks pretty good for mile 21. I always wonder what kind of reception he gets at the finish line. Does he just fly off?

Superman Returns
 Finally no marathon would be complete without the American flag bearer. No really a costume but goes with the Superman theme since his motto is truth, justice, and the American way. I wonder if that is still his motto?

The Ameican Way

09 May 2015

Fargo Marathon 2015: Spectating

cheer squad
It might have been freezing but Fargo showed up to cheer on the runners. All along 9th and 8th and Broadway masses thronged to glimpse the running spectacle. I believe this is one of the reasons this event draws so many participants- there are spectators.
I have done other races and nothing makes a long run go better than a few words of encouragement or the excitement of lots of people. It is that energy that a crowd generates for the runners that makes this marathon special.
The Fargo Marathon gets it right when they route the races into the neighborhoods and not on the outskirts of town.

bell boy is tuckered out after 4 hours

Fargo Marathon 2015: The Big Chill

30 degrees Fahrenheit at race time this morning! Fortunately all the races started in the FargoDome.
Lots were well bundled up and some less so. The top runners treated the weather like any other and cruised the course with shorts and tank tops. As a spectator I was chilled. I am glad I went back home and picked up gloves for the family otherwise I would have begun running to keep myself warm. This might have been the coldest starting temperature since the inaugural race 11 years ago. And on that day it snow too!
The chill did not keep 9th and 8th St from cheering on the throngs of runners fast and slow. Many spectators were in place well before the 7:30 start of the marathon and good parking was limited. Nonetheless it was a great time.
Eric Loeffler on 9th street
Nothing terribly dramatic at this year's race from what I observed. Marathon victors won pretty handily. But I must give a shout out to Keith Lehman. This is a guy to watch for the future. He might come back and win this race in a year or two. But this year's men's race went to a Kenyan transplant again. The women's race was won by a Colorado native. Bleacher Report sings praises and gives summary results of the marathon.
On the half marathon side of the day- Fargo's Eric Loeffler added another half victory and bested his 2013 victory time by 2 minutes. One of the of the region's top runners, Eric will be running Grandma's Marathon in June. An 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier and UND grad, Heidi Greenwood won the women's half.
Finally, a bravery award goes to the man who decided to run shirtless in the chill of the morning. Hopefully there were lots of cheers for him. Eat your heart out Will Ferrel.
2015 Bravery Award Winner

Train Day 2015 Extra: William Crooks

The  Northern Trackers have a great spot in Crosslake, MN that features 3 scales of model trains in addition to a 1/2" scale model of the the William Crooks, Minnesota's first locomotive. I try to visit whenever I am passing through the area. The Crooks model sits outside their building near a G scale layout. Inside there is an expansive HO layout that models the railroad activity of the northern Minnesota from the early 1900s. Above there is a G scale loop. In another room there is an O-scale 3 rail layout with some interactive accessories.
The real William Crooks locomotive sits in the Lake Superior Railroad Museum. It formally had been on display at the St. Paul Union Depot but since 1972 has been in the Duluth museum beside another venerable engine, The Minnetonka.
An excellent article on the Saga of the William Crooks.
As for the person, William Crooks- he was the chief engineer for the railroad which the locomotive belonged- St Paul and Pacific. He was a Colonel in the 6th Minnesota Regiment during the Civil War. The city of Crookston, MN was named for him. He died in 1907 and was buried in St. Paul, MN.


08 May 2015

Something for Train Day 2015


At the Lake Region Pioneer Threshermen's grounds in Dalton, MN there is about a mile long loop of narrow gauge track on which a French steam engine rides.You can also see the old Dalton Great Northern Depot on the grounds.

Inside the depot I found this old Great Northern Calendar.

Fargo does not do much to mark Train Day despite it being a town that's existence is due largely to the railroads. Quite a bit of rail traffic rolls through this corridor especially the oil trains from western North Dakota.
I found another place to watch for trains in town although I do not know how busy the tracks are. Just west of NDSU are the old Great Northern yards. There is a lonely road across from the airport that gives a great view of outgoing trains. Too bad the Northern Pacific historical society doesn't run a steam excursion up here.

Fargo Marathon 2015: Cooler

Weather seems to have taken a turn the last few days. Marathon day may be a little less than ideal but the races are starting inside the dome this year. Hopefully there will be minimal wind to contend. The wind out of the west and north the last 2 days has made for some really chilly races. The kids race had some precipitation too. Early May is hit or miss with weather up here. We were trending upward in temps last week but then the bottom almost fell out the latter part of the week.
Things appear to be running smoothly for the races this year. 5K did run out of certain sizes shirts but runners generally did not chose to contend with haggard volunteers. Some made a few comments which is fair. Signage was a bit lacking for the 5K registration and packet pick up. I believe there was only one directional sign and the registration area had nothing. 
No Coach G.P. this year nor is Dick Beardsley hanging around.  But Olympian and American women's marathon record holder Deena Kastor did head up the speaker series. I know nothing about the elite runners this year and made little effort to find out who was running. Being a father has made spare moments smaller.
Also the marathon has a few branded vehicles now in addition to the trailer.
Marathon Car
5Kers looking for health food

03 May 2015

Classic Toys: Small Tonka Trucks

Tonka has served up a large dose of toy vehicles but large and small since the 1950s. These days I think they are a shell of their former self as they have been brought under the big toy tent of Hasbro.

While rummaging through my mostly Finnish farther in law's farm, I found these toy vehicles. 1 is actually a Tootsie toy and should have an entry for itself. The other 3 are Tonka from 70s to late 80s vintage I surmise. I had a few of these types of trucks growing up.

02 May 2015

The Motel's Sauna Dilemma


I am lead to believe this motel was not built or run by Finns.
An air conditioned sauna really defeats the purpose of sauna, no?
Nor Scots, since why waste all that money to cool something that was meant to be steamy hot.
Perhaps it was a gimmick to draw in the curious.
I suspect "air conditioned sauna" was a euphemism to describe Selkirk in summer.
The place is still there in Selkirk but looks like the air conditioned sauna was ditched for a hot tub.

01 May 2015

Fargo Marathon 2015: Countdown to start

Just a week to go before the Fargo Marathon kicks off. The route markings are on the streets.
I think May 10th is the earliest the marathon has ever been run in Fargo. Not sure if that is keeping the numbers down.  As of 4/28/15 there is plenty of room left in all races. In previous years that has not been the case.
Good that the weather has been warming up although all races start inside the Fargo Dome except the 5K.
A route change this year will keep the marathon north of 94 and include a considerable increase in mileage on the Moorhead side of the river. Looks like 4 miles in the middle of the marathon. The half does not even cross the river. And the 10K and 5K stay relatively close to Fargo Dome and Mickelson Field. Basically opens up more spectating locations in Moorhead in the neighboorhoods adjacent to Concordia College.

01 April 2015

Epiphone EA-230

This Epiphone bass looks like the Rivoli, but it is not.
Gibson started to move most Epiphone manufacturing to Japan in the late 1960s. The Rivoli line of basses disappeared then were resurrected in the 1970s as the Japanese made EA-230. Most models of this bass I have seen are in need of neck work. My was no different. The action got high past the 5th or 6th fret.
I sold mine recently after having been the owner for ~17 years.
I bought it at a Music Go Round when I was just starting to play bass at the Hill.
It served me well and was certainly a nice looking instrument.
 

Lionel Stuff: Is it a shack or a freight platform


Not much has been written about Lionel structures from the MPC  to early modern era. Most of my searches just direct me to ebay or another site which re-directs me to ebay. Lionel released some really interesting structures during that period. Today, I pay homage to a humble track-side structure.
Personally this freight platform is one of my favorite track-side structures. I assembled this late MPC era kit ( in the photo above) in Fall and gave it some paint. Really smart looking building. Not sure if there was a prototype but such a building is plausible.
Lionel has released this model numerous times since the MPC/General Mills era. They mostly referred to the structure as a freight platform although there is documentation that it was also called the hideout shack. First released as a kit which required assembly and glue. I wholeheartedly disagree with a claim on an early box that it is a snap together structure. It is not. But later on Lionel rectified that by offering it as a pre-built accessory. The 2012 and 2013 catalogs had the freight platform pre-built, weathered, and included a light.
Slightly modified structures were cataloged under a few different names over the years. In 2002 Lionel cataloged the structure with some hobo figures, a smoke unit and a dilapidated look as the Smoking Hobo Shack. In 2013 it was released ready built without the overhanging roof and freight door but with Boy Scout insignia on one side and a flag pole and interior light.
Lionel also released a wood version of this structure in G scale in 1989 while trying to work the large scale market.