The Fargo Marathon Week concluded with 10K, half-marathon and full-marathon races this past Saturday.
Wife Joan and I ran the half-marathon together. It was time to run a race together. Father has greatly enjoyed running with daughter Britt in the Des Moines, Iowa half-marathon and daughter Kayla in the Austin, Texas full-marathon. It was good for the 62-year-old parents, too.
The Fargo Marathon is an outstanding regional event and there are many Wahpeton area participants. We saw plenty of them at Friday’s race bib pickup and 5K run, followed by Saturday’s three races.
Fargo does just as well as marathons experienced in Minneapolis, Boston, Dallas, and Chicago. It is well organized with regular email communication, plenty of inspiring music, buy-in and support by crowds and good post-race food.
This year’s races will be remembered for the challenging weather. Temperatures in the 40’s, steady rain and 25 miles per hour winds dared runners.
The cooler temperatures are actually good for times. Anything over 55 degrees challenges your body. Training outdoors under any winter-time conditions prepare you for anything Mother Nature throws at you. That is one of the great things about running. It tests your self-discipline and makes you a better person as grit and determination help with all life aspects.
We woke up at 4 a.m. for a light toast breakfast and left Wahpeton at 5 a.m. There are traffic jams on I-29 at 6 a.m. as runners converge from all directions.
Daughters call early to wish us good luck and technology allows family members to check our progress during the race. Pretty amazing!
We attend the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Chapel service in the Fargodome / NDSU Team Makers Room at 6:30 a.m. This morning the deeper meanings of running are contemplated – faith in maximizing the gifts of the human body, stress relief, escaping from the busyness of life, finding yourself and challenging your fitness.
A couple who met at a previous marathon got married and celebrated with an Elvis Presley song. Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney and Senator John Hoeven greet the crowd.
Running produces much body heat so it is still possible to wear a short-sleeve shirt and shorts. It is fun to observe the nervous energy and different ways people warm up. One lady was skipping side-to-side. Lots have serious trances and are in their own world. My routine is a series of static calf and hamstring stretches.
The Canada and United States national anthems are sung. The marathon started at 7 a.m. and half-marathon at 7:17 a.m. It is comfortable to start in a heated indoor facility.
We run/walk at a leisurely recreation pace that includes conversation. The course is flat. The only hills are the Fargodome entrance and underpasses. Due to flooding, there are no river trails and we stay mostly on downtown and neighborhood streets. Large, cascading American elm trees touch themselves above the streets.
Water puddles are avoided but soon your shoes are soaked and make squishy sounds with each step. Wet clothes and driving winds chill you in the open areas. Wife Joan comments on my goosebumps and stiff body hair follicles. She longs for a Jolly Rancher and not long after a friendly gal offers a bowl full of them.
Lots of gloves, caps and layered clothing are strewn on the trails. Thousands of nightcrawlers have met their fate. Residents cheer from open garages or under tents.
The route often parallel the full-marathon and police escort the leading elite runners. We marvel at the smooth and effortless gait of runners with long, muscle-bound legs and slim builds. They run faster for 26 miles than we could in 50 feet.
We appreciate every runner. All have made a commitment to get active and move. This is what parks and recreation always strive for. Running successfully has no secret – just work hard. Some have shirts that dedicate the race to others, sometimes with dates so one knows it is in memory. We play tag with a few runners. There are always familiar faces.
A boy at the end of the race said his goal was to finish the half-marathon in less than three hours. He had ten minutes to finish the last mile and sped ahead. Great to see young people running!
We run side-by-side through the Fargodome finish line. My hands are numb so Joan opens the chocolate milk box for me. After some celebration, we enjoy a traditional pasta meal.
Every run is a story. This one with wife Joan will always be a cherished one!
Wayne Beyer is the director of Wahpeton Parks and Rec.