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.

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