26 May 2017

Fargo Training: Coming out of the Fargo Great Northern Yard

I passed through the old Fargo Great Northern yard en route to marathon activities and noticed a blue big nosed diesel with Santa Fe markings intact and a patched number 1885. According to online sources the 1885 is a SD40-2.

2 different SD40-2s

It is working in with another SD40-2 in the H3 paint without a long nose. 1788 had been in the Burlington Northern colors up to around 2016 when it got new paint.

 Both these engines have seen local service in the Fargo region going back and forth from the Fargo Yard to Dilworth and occasionally out to Jamestown on the former Northern Pacific line.

Previously, both saw time around of the Twin Cities area. 

23 May 2017

Fargo Marathon 2017: The (not so) Bad

The old watching corner now devoid of activity
Nothing but praises for the 2017 edition of Fargo Marathon. There are two items which could be taken as indirectly bad. Once is rather subjective.
First, our old marathon viewing area on the corner of 9th St and 8th Ave now fully devoid of spectators. In years past half the block was out on near the curbs watching and cheering. I guess that is what happens as the neighborhood changes.
Second, a few blocks north of the spot above a robbery took place in the hours prior to the start of the marathon. High end audio equipment was pilfered from the yard in the early morning of May 20th. The owner traditionally has piped out tunes to runners since the inaugural marathon year. This perhaps the first crime with some relationship to the marathon. I suppose most may ask why the owner had the equipment in his yard overnight. Not sure, but he does has video surveillance. I think the culprits may be on the lam for a while lest their mugs be seen by the citizenry of the town. These pillagers must have some knowledge of what the owner does so I suspect they live within the vicinity and are only hacks. Nothing like Oceans 11. I doubt they are going to be able to unload the goods locally as the items are certainly a rarity in our parts.
You know there could be decent heist movie made centered around a marathon. Hmm.
No wait. Monk already did that in a way- Mr Monk and the Marathon Man. It was a murder instead but did involve a marathon. 

Fargo Marathon 2017: Celebrity watching and some results

Once of the stunts I think the marathon could pull off would be to have a celebrity run the race. And I don't mean Dom Izzo or Doug Burgum. The closest we get to this in Fargo is celebrity lookalikes as I noted in a post last year in addition to the guy who runs dressed as Superman and that Elvis impersonator just south of the 13th. Also concerning the Governor (aka Doug Burgum), he did run both the 5K and 10K instead of stroll this year. Dom also kept decent pace in 5K.
One can always depend on Coach GP being in Fargo for the race.
Coach GP
Just learned that GP Pearlberg was the voice of the marathon. I knew he had something to do in Fargo besides coach runners. I think a local guy named Guy shared the voice responsibility in the past. Not sure that is still the case although I did see Guy at the Fargo Dome. Anyways, Coach GP does lend his renowned in the running world to our event and has a great story. I need to go to one of his talks in the future. 
Speaking of voices, they kept announcing that the voice of Iron Man was going to do a talk. I wonder how many people were thinking "Oh, I did not know Robert Downey Jr. was going to be here?" They were probably just as surprised to learn Mike Reilly was the guy who can claim to be the voice of Iron Man yet never appear in any of the movies. Then they realized that Iron Man is also a triathlon. And concerning triathlons, all the Fargo marathon needs to add to its list of events is a swim and you have an unusual segmented triathlon. However in the juggling half marathon event, Ivan Schleppenbach still retains his Fargo title. The juggling runner has yet to face any competition in the event.  He ran it in 1:39. No word if any Kenyans are already training for this running discipline. However, freshly unemployed Ringling Brothers Barnum and Baily Circus jugglers may be in a hunt to gain fame in such races.
A few elite runners standing around
These days there are usually around 3 or 4 Kenyans running in the Fargo Marathon and 0 circus clowns. Winning one of the long races is a decent payout- $1500. Nothing incredible but pretty decent. Winner David Tuwei deserves a rest after winning the Lincoln Marathon and the Fargo Marathon in the same month. Paul Getembe cruised to victory in the half and despite the "ideal" conditions only ran 1:07.58- not even a top ten record time. Regional elite runner, Dan Greeno took 2nd after keeping up with Getembe most of the race.
Jaclyn Adamson astounded herself by running to victory in only her 2nd attempt at the half.

22 May 2017

Fargo Marathon 2017: A well oiled machine

Marathon Expo

Corporate support, reliable volunteer pool, local enthusiasm, and a flat friendly course have been the bedrock of the Fargo Marathon's success and smooth operation. So well executed was this week of events I never even saw the race director once and I was in the midst of many of the going ons. I am sure he was there, somewhere...perhaps behind the scenes.
I continue to see corporate support not just in the marketing but also out on the route with sponsored miles with a volunteer brigade. Corporations had already been supplying groups of volunteers for a many years. This action maintains that valuable set of volunteers which help make this race function. Local enthusiasm continues to remain high. Just stroll the length of 8th and 9th Avenue South on race day morning and afternoon and you can experience the energy. Over in Moorhead, MSUM continues to make the part of the course through their campus a fiery good mile for runners. The Cobbers also took time to cheer on the runners although not with the numbers of MSUM or with 2 dragons.
All the above adds to the draw of a flat and friendly course. Not many of those courses around. But that is not to say Fargo has no challenges. It does- wind, humidity, and quite a lot of turns. Again I wonder why we have not seen more finishers under 2:40. If you want to qualify for Boston or Olympic trials, do it here. But maybe that is suggesting that runners take the easy way. Heck they trained to run 26.2 miles! Why subjugate yourself to more torture. I can see why David Tuwei opted to run despite having run Omaha a few weeks before- this course is not going to eat you.
And the Expo is quite good too. Lot's of freebies including MSUM paraphernalia, potato chips, licorice, water. I even won a pint glass at the Hog Wild Marathon booth.

So does anything need improvement?
Yes. Here are a few items.

  • Edit the Race Magazine.

    Despite this being a fine publication to communicate race information and gain some sponsorship dollars, a dedicated editorial staff would have kept a few chinks from getting published.
    For instance, there was a short blurb about NP Avenue but it appears that someone overlooked the fact that NP is short hand for Northern Pacific and not North Pacific as it was published. This could have been overcome with a little research or even asking any senior citizen of Fargo.
    North Pacific Railroad?

    The 5k map still does not get published in the magazine. We get a lot a questions concerning that course. But good news for this year, there were many dedicated posters of the route at the Expo.
  • Find improvements for packet pick up.

    Generally it is pretty good.
    One improvement was made this year- 5K pick up and registration was in the same area as the 10K, Half, and Marathon pick ups. Probably reduced excess movement by participants when they had to go to the mezzanine level and then down to the field level for the Expo. Also brought more traffic into the Expo.
    Just one item that comes up nearly every year. I estimate about a third of the registrants do not know their bib numbers despite the registration system supposedly sending out e-mail with it to the registrant. I am being a bit picky. We have workarounds for this - the bib lookup table. I may have said this in the past but packet pick up provides a good opportunity to do an 8D on the process. This could find where we can improve and certainly show we are dedicated to producing a superior experience for the participants.

20 May 2017

Fargo Marathon 2017: In the cooler

beyond 4 hours and still south of the dome 

I was beginning to dread having to stand in the rain for hours to cover this year's marathon earlier this week. However a slight shift in the weather system pushed the rains off until the afternoon. Still, it was a cooler event that mostly hovered in the mid to upper 40s.
After working 2 volunteer shifts last night I decided to ease into things Saturday morning. We did not get over to the old watching spot on 8th Ave until late in the morning. The victors (for the marathon Tuwei and Tesafaye) had sped through well before our arrival on the course. Now we were there to cheer the unsung runners bringing up the tail end of the marathon.
Fortunately the party was still going on along 8th and 9th. We saw at least 5 bands in addition to many DJs and people just pumping music from their supped up stereos. Many of the spectators were already gone or hovering near the houses and tents. Elvis was sauntering through "Kentucky Rain" as we crossed over 13th and followed runners to the 21st mile marker.
In this 13th edition of the event, the item that set this one apart from others is the women's marathon victory by Fargo South graduate Semehar Tesafaye. She defended her victory from last year and became the 1st woman to become a repeat champion in the Fargo Marathon.
Kenyans once again were at the top of finishers of the men's marathon. A former NDSU runner Greg Liebl finished 4th.
Far south curve which I had nicknamed the orange peel turn
Decent top times this year but nothing that blows your socks off although the Forum seemed to think the conditions were ideal. The mens' winner's coach even claimed that Tuwei could have run a sub 2:20 time if the runner had not competed in a marathon in Omaha a few weeks ago. Sounds familiar but 2:28 and change is good for Fargo. Will Fargo ever see a a sub 2:20 again?