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Published March 21 2011

Wagner: NYC firefighter Long an inspiring story

The next time you struggle on one of your long weekend runs, it might be worth to think about Matt Long.

The accomplished marathoner and Ironman triathlete has experienced quite a journey.

About six weeks after qualifying for the 2006 Boston Marathon, Long was riding his bike to work when he was run over by a bus.

The New York City firefighter’s life changed in an instant.

His recovery, by any definition, is extraordinary. His medical issues, rehabilitation and return to endurance sports are explained in excruciating detail in “The Long Run,” which was published last fall.

During a week-long vacation last month, I sat down to read about Long. The book left me with a new appreciation of the power of the human spirit.

Fortunately, Long also will be a guest speaker during this spring’s Fargo Marathon. He’ll talk at 4 and 7 p.m. Friday, May 20, at the event’s expo.

Speaking of Fargo’s largest running event, race officials reported last week that registration for all races is filling up quickly. With caps set on each event, officials said the field for all five events – 5K, 10K, marathon relay, half marathon and full marathon – could be full by April. So far, registration is 35 percent ahead of this time last year.

Hope for Zach

Some West Fargo High School students are organizing a race April 30 as a way to help others.

Missy Halda, a senior heading up the race committee, said the school’s Student Council wanted to organize a benefit, with plans on funds going to Moorhead’s Hope Inc., the organization that was featured on ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover.

And then Zach Gabbard, a member of the Perham, Minn., basketball team, collapsed during a game. He’s been in rehab ever since in St. Paul, where his team will play in the state tournament for the first time in school history.

Halda said the event – which offers a 5K race/walk and 10K race – will now split the funds from the event to help out the Gabbard family with medical bills.

“It is going to be a great event and we hope to get a lot of people there,” Halda said.

As of Saturday, the Facebook page for West Fargo High School’s Run for Hope Inc. and Zach Gabbard showed more than 170 people attending the event, which starts at 9 a.m. at the West Fargo High School. Online links to race entry forms are available both on Facebook and at www.west-fargo.k12.nd.us.

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Forum News Director Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found at runningspud.areavoices.com. He can be reached at (701) 241-5542 or swagner@forumcomm.com.