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Kevin Schnepf, Published October 09 2009

FM Half Marathon faces chilly forecast

After hearing Saturday’s chilly weather forecast, Mark Knutson experienced déjà vu.

“To be honest, I’m having flashbacks to the first marathon,” said Knutson, referring to the inaugural Fargo Marathon he helped organize.

That was May 14, 2005 – when the temperature hovered in the 30s, the wind was blowing out of the north at 25 mph and snow flurries filled the air.

On Saturday – when Knutson launches the first FM Half Marathon – the temperature is forecast to be in the 30s, with scattered snow flurries and gusty winds.

“If you pretend it’s January or February, then it’s a pretty nice day,” Knutson joked. “That’s just the way the weather is around here. What do you do?”

What Knutson has done is create another road race that has sparked more interest than he expected – so much that he closed registration Wednesday. The 13.1-mile half marathon has 800 registered runners, the 10-kilometer run 520 runners and the 5-kilometer run/walk 615 runners.

Those 1,935 runners will take off from the Fargo Civic Center, run south on the east side of the Red River in Moorhead and eventually back north on the west side of the Red River to the Civic.

“We hope some day this will be a 3,000- to 4,000-runner event,” said Knutson, who is also the executive director of the Fargo Marathon that has grown from 2,271 to 14,100 runners during its five years. “It seemed like there was a void for another fall running event.

“There are a ton of 5K and 10K races. We were hoping to create something a little bit larger scale. People can run the full marathon in the spring, train in the summer and run the half in the fall.”

Knutson said he doesn’t anticipate any traffic problems. Road closures along the route will occur anywhere from 7 to 11 a.m.

Knutson encourages runners to park east of the Civic Center and arrive by 7:15 or 7:30 a.m. The 5K run-walk begins at 8:05 a.m., followed by the 10K at 8:10 and the half marathon at 8:30.

He said runners can stay warm in the Civic Center lobby prior to the races. A post-race gathering is scheduled inside at the Civic’s Centennial Hall.

“The only thing that would prevent us from holding the race is lightning and thunder,” Knutson said. “I don’t anticipate that happening.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549