09 May 2014

A great list of things remembering 10 years of Fargo Marathons

When you have little time but lots to write you make lists. I think David Letterman's writers must have perfected this mode of writing. I don't have 10 things but I have enough things.

1. This event draws because we are friendly.
Now with it being Fargo, we have a reputation of being cold and located someplace in the armpits of America. And thanks to a movie we are thought to be a hideaway for suspicious characters.
But really Fargo is nothing like that. We may have cold weather but mostly we are friendly (at least during the marathon.)
Case in point. While volunteering Thursday night a man from Indonesia who was in town to see his son graduate from NDSU the next week asked if he could register for one of the big races. As far as I knew only the 5K still had available spaces- every other race was closed. Still we sent him to another table to inquire about entering assuming he would be turned away again. Not long afterward he returned to our tent with registration for the full marathon! A similar story happened to my friend Chris last year.

2. The biggest game-changer for the event was organizing bands for every mile.
Prior to the "rock" theme the marathon began to take, the race was like just about every other one- you run, you might see a few spectators, get a sports drink someplace along the way, and then you finish and take your medal and goodies and leave to recover. The change created a charged atmosphere throughout but also drew out the community wherever they were near the race course. Where I typically spectate there a tons of block parties. I even got into the spirit by erecting a tent on the boulevard for a cheering party. The 27th mile party also invites participants to linger a bit longer after the races and experience a little afterglow.
I know we are not the Rock n Roll Marathon- but we do great impersonation.

3. 2nd biggest game-changer- Friday Night 5K
Organizing and placing the 5K on the Friday before the big races really spurred some remarkable growth. Most participants each year are running the 5K. Some participants even run the 5K and another event on Saturday- something that garners that runner an additional GoFar Challenge medal.

4. Greatest moments
By far the marathon's greatest moment thus far was Eric Sondag's come from behind victory in 2008. That story is remarkable in that it involved a local runner (from Grand Forks) out dueling a hardened distance runner from Kenya in the last miles of the race. What makes it even greater is the possibility that Sondag might not have been running that day had he not convinced the race director of his determination. Sondag had not recorded any remarkable times in previous events and the race director was hesitant to let him run.(I believe he still would have run but not in the elite group.) The 2nd greatest moment would be Chris Erichsen's 2:19:55 victory in 2010. His time still stands as the course record for men.
I still believe we are yet to see a great women's race o par with the Sondag run. Thus far most of the women victor's have been well ahead of the competition. Although a nod should be given to local resident Lisa Dyer's victory in 2012. She holds the 3rd top time for women.

5. Internationals and elites
Kenyans started running in the Fargo Marathon somewhere around the 3rd or 4th year. But their presence increased the excitement of the race. Oliver Hoffman from Germany was the first international to win the marathon- although I think some internationals have won the half marathon- I just don't have that info in my hands to verify. The race also attracts a fair amount of region elite runners- Chris Erichsen being one of most well known as well as Luke Watson. Chad Wallin was the first man to win the full marathon twice. No word of who will be running this year as I was bumped from Elite check in duties this year.

1 comment:

Eric said...

Appreciate the nod! Cheers!