Kenyans have won the last five men's full marathons of the Sanford Fargo Marathon

The country that has produced so many great long distance runners over the years may well be represented a sixth time at the Fargodome finish line on Saturday.

It looks to be a competitive field for the 7 a.m. start. Perhaps helping the increased number of elite runners is the upcoming Olympic Trials for the 2020 Olympic Games.

Runners like Enock Birir, who is training out of Sante Fe, N.M. He’ll toe the line with the fastest personal record of the elite entrants at 2 hours, 20 minutes, 10 seconds. The 28-year-old won the Des Moines (Iowa) Marathon last fall, which was his first 26.2-mile race in seven years and took third in the Mercedes-Benz Marathon in February in Birmingham, Ala., with a time of 2:26.44.

He’ll have competition from Arturs Bareikis of Crestwood, Ill., a native of Latvia, who took second in the Fargo Marathon in 2014. The Duma Running Club in Coon Rapids, Minn., is sending Kenyan runners Anthony Kurui and two-time Fargo champion David Tuwei.

Kurui most recently finished fifth in the half-marathon in Lincoln, Neb. The 40-year-old Tuwei lists a 2:14 as his PR, but his performances in the last few years have been more in the range of his Fargo-winning times of 2:27.15 in 2015 and 2:28.24 in 2017.

Perhaps a sleeper favorite is Garang Madut, who won the St. Jude Memphis Marathon last December. He ran cross country for four years at Cumberland University (Tenn.) and is a graduate assistant coach for the Cumberland women’s cross country team.

Madut moved to Nashville, Tenn., from South Sudan when he was 5 years old. At 23 years old, he may be on the verge of realizing his potential.

Defending Fargo champion Geofrey Terer of Colorado Springs, Colo., won the Brookings (S.D.) Marathon last weekend in 2:30.47. It’s doubtful the 42-year-old would have enough in the tank to challenge on consecutive weekends but he’s been in the running game long enough to know competition over 26.2 miles can get strange at times. It worked last year when he won the Fargo in 2:30.00.

“It’s about who’s on Saturday?” Almquist said. “Who has it mentally and physically together? Or who adapts best to the conditions the runners are facing that day? You know Fargo, it could be anything on Saturday.”

posted Wednesday May 15th