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Fargo Marathon has been cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus

The optimism organizers of the Sanford Fargo Marathon had in June of rescheduling for the end of August came to another conclusion on Monday, July 27. The biggest participation event in the history of Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo canceled the races slated for the week of Aug. 24-29.

That includes the marathon, half-marathon, marathon relay, 10K, 5K, Youth Run, Furgo Dog Run and Cyclothon. The recent surge of coronavirus cases around the country was cited as the main reason, said marathon executive director Mark Knutson.

“It’s getting pretty crazy as we all know,” he said. “Even locally and regionally the numbers are up in North Dakota and Minnesota.”

The 16th annual event will be rescheduled for next May 22. Rugged Races, which owns the marathon, is offering three refund options: defer to next year, full refund from this year or do the event virtually.

Moreover, for the virtual runners for the full and half marathons, Sanford Health will send a Fargo Marathon jacket to each participant in addition to the usual swag of items.

"We can only do the jacket for the full or half because the price point is so high," Knutson said. “Rugged Races has done a great job with the runners. The hardest thing with races around the country is so many do not offer refunds or deferrals.”

The original plan in June was to have the start and finish lines outside instead of inside the Fargodome like it’s been in recent years. Runners were going to begin in corrals of no more than 500 people.

Around 10,000 were registered for all events with a planned cap of 15,000 for the entire week. Most years attract around 20,000 entrants.

At the time of the rescheduling announcement in June, the state of North Dakota was at a green level of risk for the coronavirus, which is one below the optimal blue level. The state was still at a green level on Monday, but it appears to be trending the other way toward an orange level.

“We felt we had a good plan, I still feel we had a good plan,” Knutson said. “But we felt if even one person gets it because of the event, how can you put a price on that? The way things are going, we don’t need to be the ones to have something happen and people blaming the marathon.”

(07/28/2020) Views: 212 ⚡AMP
by Jeff Kolpack
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Fargo Marathon

Fargo Marathon

2020 events have been moved from May 9th to August 29. The Fargo Marathon is a week full of events, The Fargo Marathon is bound to have something for everyone. From the Cyclothon, Furgo Dog Run, Largest Kid's Race, 5K Walk/Run, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon and Relays, there is a distance for all! Start and Finish inside the Fargo...

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The Fargo Marathon got the green light from the city and it is on for August 29

Ladies and gentlemen, start your running shoes. The Sanford Fargo Marathon got the green light from the city of Fargo and crucial sponsors and will proceed as planned for its week-long events Aug. 24-29.

Moreover, the 26.2-mile marathon may be one of the few races of that distance in the country and could attract more runners than usual. It most likely will be the first to resume after being rescheduled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re getting emails from people all over the country saying I see you’re still on,” said race director Mark Knutson. 

He said Rugged Races, the owner of the Fargo Marathon, gave its blessing. Mike Almquist, who along with Knutson has been on board since the event’s inception in 2005 and is the operations manager under Rugged, has been getting elite applications almost daily, Knutson said.

The record number of registered runners for the full is 2,631 in 2011 with the race holding steady annually at between 1,500 and 2,000.

This year’s races will see some significant changes with social distancing measures. They will start and finish on the east side of the Fargodome instead of inside the facility. Runners will be starting in groups of 500 that will be assembled in multiple corrals in the dome parking lot.

“There will be no mass start outside of 500 people,” Knutson said.

The marathon route may have to change depending on the access to the city of Moorhead, Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. It may go through downtown Fargo at the beginning of the race instead of toward the end but that is more because of road construction, Knutson said.

“By no means do we want to leave Moorhead out,” he said. “The course is still a little bit in limbo. If we can’t go into Moorhead, we’ll have to figure out additional real estate in Fargo.”

Around 10,000 are currently registered for all events. Knutson sees a realistic cap of around 15,000 registrants. Precautions will also be taken at aid stations, packet pickup and with volunteers.

The marathon has also received guidance from Fargo Cass Public Health.

“We have a very good COVID-focused plan, a really good plan,” he said. 

The plan could see further easing of restrictions depending on the level of risk that is determined by the North Dakota Health Department. It’s currently at a green, or low level. It’s one level above blue, which is the safest.

At a green level, finishers will be given a medal, a pre-packaged food bag and then be encouraged to leave the premises.

“If we go to a blue on a state-wide level, I’m sure we’ll have music at the finish line and have a party in the parking lot,” Knutson said. “But for now, we’re going to proceed as if we’re going to stay with a green level.”

The record for all events is 25,700 set in 2012. A proliferation of marathons in recent years has made for a more competitive market, especially for out-of-town runners looking for a destination marathon.

Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn., normally held this month, was canceled. Knutson said he’s heard from runners who were registered for the Boston Marathon, which also was canceled.

“We hope to get some more national draw,” he said.

The Twin Cities Marathon on Oct. 4 and the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 11 are still on. 

The Fargo Marathon and four-person relay, 13.1-mile half marathon and 10K are set for Saturday the 29th. The cyclothon, either a 15-mile or 26.2-mile loop, begins the week on Monday, Aug. 24 followed by the Furgo Dog Run on Tuesday. The annual Youth Run is set for Thursday and the 5K is set for Friday night.

The events were originally scheduled for mid-May. Participants who were registered for those races will automatically be entered in the new dates.

No refunds will be given. Registered runners who can’t make the new dates can do a “virtual run” and have their medal, bib number and race swag shipped to them.

(06/18/2020) Views: 228 ⚡AMP
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Fargo Marathon

Fargo Marathon

2020 events have been moved from May 9th to August 29. The Fargo Marathon is a week full of events, The Fargo Marathon is bound to have something for everyone. From the Cyclothon, Furgo Dog Run, Largest Kid's Race, 5K Walk/Run, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon and Relays, there is a distance for all! Start and Finish inside the Fargo...

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The Fargo Marathon has been sold, Rugged Races has purchased the marathon

The Sanford Fargo Marathon has been sold. Rugged Races has purchased the marathon from founder Mark Knutson.

The company, with offices in Chicago and Boston, says it doesn't plan to change any aspects of the marathon and will help streamline operations, improve quality and attract more runners. Knutson will remain as race director. Rugged Races runs marathons and other events around the country.

The marathon started in 2005 with about 2,600 people taking part. Five years later, there were nearly 20,000 participants.

Next year's marathon is scheduled for May 9.

(12/04/2019) Views: 482 ⚡AMP
by Paul Jurgens
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Fargo Marathon

Fargo Marathon

2020 events have been moved from May 9th to August 29. The Fargo Marathon is a week full of events, The Fargo Marathon is bound to have something for everyone. From the Cyclothon, Furgo Dog Run, Largest Kid's Race, 5K Walk/Run, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon and Relays, there is a distance for all! Start and Finish inside the Fargo...

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Arturs Bareikis took the lead at 20 miles and went on to win the Sanford Fargo Marathon

After grabbing the lead at about Mile 20, Arturs Bareikis spent the final six miles in the Sanford Fargo Marathon on Saturday constantly looking over his shoulder. There was noone there.

The 32-year-old from Midlothian, Ill., made his third trip to Fargo winning the 15th annual event in 2 hours, 27 minutes, 14 seconds. He placed second in 2014? He was on a mission not to let that happen again.

“I came here to do one thing,” Bareikis said.

Winning was the only goal. He didn’t wear a watch and therefore wasn’t paying attention to mile splits. It was all about racing with a pack of four from the outset that consisted of defending champion Geofrey Terer, Anthony Kirui of Minneapolis and Garang Madut from Lebanon, Tenn.

Terer and Kirui split from the other two after a few miles. In an oddity, Terer had the solo lead around Mile 9 where he had to stop to tie his shoe. That appeared to solidify the pack again until Bareikis made his break at Mile 20.

“I knew that was going to cost him and he wasn’t going to be able to make that last move,” Bareikis said of Terer having to stop. “I always observe early in the race what people do and I was staying in the back. You only get one real move and I waited for mile 20 to make it. It wasn’t guaranteed but I knew (Friday) I was going to hit it at Mile 20.”

He knew Friday after studying the weather forecast. The race was was run in light rain and wind. Those elements, Bareikis said, played into his favor.

After mile splits in the neighborhood of 5:45 to 6:05, Bariekis ripped off a 5:19 from mile 20 to 21. He was hoping a small cramp that began to develop in his leg didn’t escalate.

“Once you start feeling a cramp, it’s a little bit scary,” he said.  But it did not excalate and he went on to win.

(05/18/2019) Views: 931 ⚡AMP
by Jeff Kolpack
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Fargo Marathon

Fargo Marathon

2020 events have been moved from May 9th to August 29. The Fargo Marathon is a week full of events, The Fargo Marathon is bound to have something for everyone. From the Cyclothon, Furgo Dog Run, Largest Kid's Race, 5K Walk/Run, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon and Relays, there is a distance for all! Start and Finish inside the Fargo...

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Camron Roehl won the men’s Sanford Fargo Marathon 5K by over one minute 30 seconds clocking 14:40

Former Grand Forks Central runner Camron Roehl won the men’s division of the Sanford Fargo Marathon 5K on Friday, May 17. He previously won it in 2017.

The race drew more than 6,000 participants and started in the Fargodome for the first time in the 15 years of the event.

Roehl finished his college career this spring at North Dakota State University when the Bison won their 10th straight Summit outdoor title.  He finished fifth in the 1,500 and seventh in the 3,000.

“Competing for NDSU is on the greatest honors you can ever have as a collegiate athlete,” Roehl said. “But to come here and win an event that means so much to the city means a lot.”

He was a lone wolf in the race taking off from the start and not looking back finishing in 14:40. His only companions were the motorcycles leading the way.

“I was working pretty hard, having to fight the Fargo wind,” he said. “It was going to be a tough, tough run out there; it wasn’t easy by any means.”

Roehl crossed the finish line, and then had to wait for a while before second place Jesse Prince from Bemidji, Minn., came into the dome at 16:14.

“It’s never over until you cross the finish line,” Roehl said. “I’ve seen races go south pretty quick for some people with huge leads. You can never relax until the job is done.”

With college done, Roehl plans on working in ministry for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He still plans on running the shorter-distance races saying he still has some goals to attain. The longer races will come later, he said.

(05/18/2019) Views: 967 ⚡AMP
by Jeff Kolpack
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Fargo Marathon

Fargo Marathon

2020 events have been moved from May 9th to August 29. The Fargo Marathon is a week full of events, The Fargo Marathon is bound to have something for everyone. From the Cyclothon, Furgo Dog Run, Largest Kid's Race, 5K Walk/Run, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon and Relays, there is a distance for all! Start and Finish inside the Fargo...

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Alex Olson, 22-year-old will run the Fargo half maratón this weekend just one year after suffering a stroke

The experience of a lifetime came to Alex Olson last winter when he studied abroad for four months in beautiful Australia. However, it all came to a crashing halt last May when he was having trouble walking and talking, his balance was way off and his 'whole body felt tingly.'

"i just attempted to go to bed. I figured I would hopefully wake up in the morning and everything would be alright," Olson said. But his symptoms continued to grow worse as the night went on; Prompting Olson to ask friends to bring him to the ER the next morning. "By the time we got to the hospital, I wasn't able to walk into the ER on my own," Olson said.

When Olson finally did make his way inside, the Aussie doctors were thrown for a loop. "While it was obvious signs of typical stroke, we had all kind of unanimously agreed that that wouldn't make sense for a healthy, young, 21-year-old male," Olson said.

After hours of several tests and scans, the doctors finally came back with an answer: Olson had suffered a brain stem stroke. "When I heard the doctor say those words... It was difficult to handle and I cried," Olson said.

Although not confident, doctors told Olson he had a good shot of almost a full recovery—A silver lining in what Olson calls 'a dark time.' "But at the same time, when I couldn't move my arm or hand and could barely move my right leg, it was difficult to believe," he said.

But that possibility of one day regaining his mobility and strength pushed Olson through as he spent over a month in the Aussie hospital working with physical therapists. "Right off the bat I think everything was challenging," Olson said.

Home videos show the progress Olson made while in the hospital. One shows multiple people around Olson as he attempts to walk down the halls in his first weeks. Another video shows Olson's struggle just to clench his hands into a fist, while others show his fight to bring a cup to his mouth.

His challenge continued when he returned to the states late last summer. "Most people post brain stem stroke, it's not uncommon that they're not going to be nearly as functional," Dan Johnson, owner of Total Balance Physical Therapy and Fitness said.

For the past nine months, Johnson has been Olson's champion. The pair work two to three times a week together, with Johnson pushing and encouraging Olson while they've focused on the weakness and stability in Olson's right side.

And in the recent months, Johnson has helped Olson tackle yet another challenge. It's a goal that started in Olson's hospital bed—Joking with friends that once he could walk again he’d run a marathon. "The fact that he's so young and he's able to come back! He's going to be running the marathon on Saturday, all of those things are just absolutely phenomenal and just a testament to him as a human being," Johnson said.

Olson’s race will come just two days after the one year anniversary of his stroke. "I'm very excited to have it sorta be a celebration and a marker of how this recovery has gone," Olson said.

(05/16/2019) Views: 852 ⚡AMP
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Fargo Marathon

Fargo Marathon

2020 events have been moved from May 9th to August 29. The Fargo Marathon is a week full of events, The Fargo Marathon is bound to have something for everyone. From the Cyclothon, Furgo Dog Run, Largest Kid's Race, 5K Walk/Run, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon and Relays, there is a distance for all! Start and Finish inside the Fargo...

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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 will be represented a sixth time at the Fargo Marathon 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 marathon 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 the 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.”

(05/15/2019) Views: 1,004 ⚡AMP
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Fargo Marathon

Fargo Marathon

2020 events have been moved from May 9th to August 29. The Fargo Marathon is a week full of events, The Fargo Marathon is bound to have something for everyone. From the Cyclothon, Furgo Dog Run, Largest Kid's Race, 5K Walk/Run, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon and Relays, there is a distance for all! Start and Finish inside the Fargo...

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Semehar Tesfaye, who has won the last three Sanford Fargo Marathons, has retired from running and will not be back this year to win a fourth straight women's marathon

Semehar Tesfaye graduated from Fargo South in 2008. She attended North Dakota State for one year before transferring to Iowa State, where she graduated in 2012.

She got her masters degree from the University of Arkansas in 2013. Ultimately, the educational aspect of her life won out over competitive running, so the three-time defending champion at the Sanford Fargo Marathon will not return for a shot at a four-peat.

At 28 years old, she’s retired. The amount of time it takes to train at a high level was just too much.

“To actually be prepared and the nature of how running is,” she said, “you may have a good day or a bad day but to train so long for one race was too much of a risk to put into it.”

Plus, she said, she has a new goal of becoming a data scientist and is taking online courses. Tesfaye is currently a quality assurance technologist for a food processing company in the Boston area.

Tesfaye burst upon the Fargo Marathon scene in 2016 when she won the women’s race in 2 hours, 37 minutes, 27 seconds, beating the course record by more than four minutes. It was her first-ever marathon and that fast of a time spurned questions of her potential. Such as, is she Olympic-caliber capable?

Primarily a middle-distance runner in college who finished her career at Arkansas, her speed combined with an increased endurance made it seem like a possibility. But she also dealt with minor injuries in the months leading up to a couple of Fargo Marathons.

“Running does that to you,” Tesfaye said. “You’re only going to be fit 10 to 20 percent of the year with the rest of the time being hard training and tough on you mentally.”

Combined with a full-time job, it doesn’t leave time for much else. That has changed. She doesn’t miss the long miles, although she still goes for easy runs to maintain a good fitness level.

The memories, certainly, won’t soon fade away.

Boosted by pre-race publicity, many fans along the Fargo Marathon route knew her on a first-name basis. When she crossed the finish line at the Fargodome in 2016, with a sprint no less, it was to the roar of a game-winning shot in basketball.

That first one remains the most memorable.

“I wasn’t sure I was going to finish the race,” she said. “I remember waking up, going to the Fargodome and remember the first step was just waking up and giving yourself a chance. I remember thinking I wasn’t sure how I was going to do.”

(05/14/2019) Views: 924 ⚡AMP
by Jeff Kolpack
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Fargo Marathon

Fargo Marathon

2020 events have been moved from May 9th to August 29. The Fargo Marathon is a week full of events, The Fargo Marathon is bound to have something for everyone. From the Cyclothon, Furgo Dog Run, Largest Kid's Race, 5K Walk/Run, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon and Relays, there is a distance for all! Start and Finish inside the Fargo...

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This year's Red River flood is forcing the organizers of the Fargo Marathon to make some course changes

With many parts of the route still muddy or flooded, the maps are going to be changed quite a bit, according to Marathon director Mark Knutson — though the revised maps have not yet been released.

Knutson says paths along the river are being eliminated because of high waters and unsafe running conditions.

Oak Grove, Gooseberry and Lindenwood parks, as well as Jack William Stadium and the Hjemkomst Center have been removed from routes.

"Those have to go away, there's just no way that'll get down (the water) and the other piece is, even if the water gets down, they're just dirty they have to get cleaned up," Knutson said.

A map of the revised routes has not yet been provided but the Veteran's Memorial Bridge will be included.

(05/03/2019) Views: 833 ⚡AMP
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Fargo Marathon

Fargo Marathon

2020 events have been moved from May 9th to August 29. The Fargo Marathon is a week full of events, The Fargo Marathon is bound to have something for everyone. From the Cyclothon, Furgo Dog Run, Largest Kid's Race, 5K Walk/Run, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon and Relays, there is a distance for all! Start and Finish inside the Fargo...

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Third Win for Tesfaye at the Fargo Marathon on Saturday May 19

Semehar Tesfaye became the first runner to win three in a row in any Fargo Marathon event, taking the marathon in 2:39:22.  That was almost six minutes ahead of the next runner. The early challenge came from Joan Massah from Andover, Minn., whose time in front didn't last long. Jen Van Otterloo from Sioux Center, Iowa, finished second in 2:44.17 and Massah was third at 2:45.48. "It put a little doubt in me," Tesfaye said, "but I knew it was a long race and I trained well for this." She also got a helpful assist from male runner Jesse Prince, who paced Tesfaye for a good chunk of the race. "He was with me for about 16 miles and that helped me a lot," Tesfaye said. "He was going at a pace I wanted to go at and he was right on that." That pace was 5:55 per mile. Prince told Tesfaye early in the race he wanted to run a 2:36 marathon. "Which was perfect," Tesfaye said. "That motivated me to stay with him." Just like in her previous two Fargo Marathon victories, the fans on the course played a big role in her overall experience. She may have been somewhat unknown two years ago when it was her first-ever marathon. She's on a first-name basis with the marathon fans now, not hesitating to wave or smile at people she knew along the way. "They were really helpful keeping my mind off the race," Tesfaye said. Tesfaye, who lives and trains in Boston, is planning on running some shorter races before tackling a half-marathon in December. She may or may not return to Fargo next year to go for four in a row depending on the Boston Marathon, which is held in early April. "Boston is a challenging race," Tesfaye said. "If I stay fit and keep myself healthy, I'll try to do Boston. Otherwise I'll come back to Fargo and it will motivate me again." She has no plans to run professionally, instead preferring the more casual approach. "I don't try to think of it as a profession," she said. "I try to keep that pressure off of me. I just train my best and enjoy running." (05/19/2018) Views: 933 ⚡AMP
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Defending champ Tesfaye is ready to win the Fargo Marathon for the third time

There's something about the Sanford Fargo Marathon that brings out the best in Semehar Tesfaye. She's hoping her third time in the event on Saturday will be another charm. The two-time defending champion and Fargo South graduate, currently living and training in Boston, is hoping health and training issues in the past year are permanently in the rear-view mirror. Since winning the Fargo race last year, she dealt with low iron levels in her body and a job that made training and racing tough. A better diet and iron supplement addressed that issue. And she took a new position in March with an insurance firm that has made her schedule easier to deal with. It's allowed her to get her mileage up to around 90 miles per week. "The Fargo Marathon is the race that motivated me to continue running when times were harder, when I was not healthy," Tesfaye said. She won in 2016, her first-ever marathon, clocking 2:37:27.  She won last year in 2:38.09. She was rarely challenged in both races. (05/15/2018) Views: 1,031 ⚡AMP
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