More Fargo Marathon 2009

If you read the comments from one of my previous Fargo Marathon posts from Eric Sondag- he makes a valid point about the build up to the Fargo Marathon. There really wasn't anything, barring a few human interest type stories and then one about the Kenyans that will be running, that looked closely at the competition. 3 Olympic Trials participants ran Fargo this year. How did that go unnoticed? I suspect there are not many marathon media relation staff on board which could have given a number of these athletes a little press.
One of those runners was Kelly Mortenson, who I helped check in on Friday. Kelly finished 6th in the marathon. When I saw him pass on the course he was still in 2nd position. The eventually winner (who I think I have photographed here- actually it is Matt McCurdy pictured) Pete Gilman held the lead almost the entire course. Based on the last 10k timing, it appears that he was surrounded by the Kenyan pack as they attempted to pull away. Typical strategy when you know the frontrunner was almost a quarter mile ahead of you for most of the race. You begin to turn it up and attempt to create a bit of pressure. Pete either did not succumb to it or the Kenyans couldn't keep their push sustained. Kelly finished behind the 4 Kenyans. Sammy Malakwen, last years half champ took 2nd.


Eric said…
The guy in the first pic is Matt McCurdy, who deserves some recognition of his own. He moved to Fargo last summer, and I believe he is a medical resident, as well as being a very good runner. He absolutely ripped the 2nd loop of the course in 1:14:02, after going out in a conservative 1:17:22. A bit more even splits, and he could have easily cracked 2:30. I believe it is his first marathon, as well. He will be one to watch next year.

As far as the coverage, I accept no excuses for the Fargo Marathon PR people or the Fargo Forum's reporting. There are people on staff for both entities who have had FIVE YEARS to get their hands around understanding the event well enough to report on it, and to support the invited athletes properly. It's just not getting done. To me, it is unforgivable to not publicize the fact that the Fargo Marathon had *three* Olympic Trials Qualifiers in the men's and women's marathon events! Not only for rabid fans of the sport, like myself, but for the casual fan who is looking for a reason to get into the sport either as a spectator or a participant. It shows an embarrassing lack of respect for these athletes to ignore them in the coverage. And all three are native Minnesotans, for crying out loud! Why are the Fargo Marathon and the Forum so reticent to support the local and regional athletes? Over 85% of the participants and nearly 100% of the spectators are FROM ND AND MN. Readers, viewers, and listeners are interested in the Kenyans, too, and enjoy learning about their amazing talents, their stories, etc., (I even learned some Swahili last year so I could try to introduce myself and try to chat with them) but the home crowd will always preferentially seek to support their local athletes. Why this isn't understood by the people who cover the Fargo Marathon is completely beyond my understanding. For four of the five years, the story has been all about getting someone from Kenya to run 2:14, 2:17, etc., and every year, no one gets close to that time, and someone from ND or MN wins the race in an 'upset'. It's a tired story, and an inaccurate one. I would also add that I think it is exploitative and disrespectful of the Kenyans, at times, as well.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. It's incredibly frustrating to me to see the same thing play out over and over again. I don't know if you caught the post race interviews with Pete Gilman, but I was saddened (but not surprised) to hear him be very non-committal about returning to Fargo. I believe he found the fan support to be incredible, and on par with the best races in the world, (as I did), but the ridiculous media chatter and poor presentation is enough to make anyone think twice about running at the front of this event.

One final and important comment: there are qualified and very knowledgeable people in a position to fix all of the issues I've mentioned above, and they are being either underutilized at best, or, at worst, actively ignored. I couldn't begin to explain why this happens. I'm not a race organizer or a reporter...just a runner doing my part to get the best out of myself and my competitors, and give my best to the supporters and those who share my excitement for running.

Sorry for the long post. I appreciate your commentary and support over the last couple of years! Cheers.

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