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Steve Wagner, Published April 22 2012

Wagner: Fargo Marathon makes tweeks, could use more

Bemidji, Minn.

Now in its eighth year, the Fargo Marathon’s success can’t be overstated.

For the past few years, more than 20,000 people have signed up for the various races, and the 2012 version won’t be any different.

In fact, if you plan to run the marathon, half-marathon or 10K, and you haven’t signed up yet, the clock is ticking. Earlier this month, Mark Knutson, the race director, said each of those races could reach capacity by May 1.

The success of those races shows the Fargo-Moorhead community’s commitment to living a healthy lifestyle and supporting the event.

One of my favorite parts of road races, particularly larger events like the one in Fargo, is the positive, energetic atmosphere you find at the start. We all deal with the daily grind, hectic schedules and life’s challenges, but those all seem to fade to the background when the starter’s gun fires.

As it has in most years, the Fargo Marathon will see some changes this year. The marathon course changes again, and runners will head into some north Fargo neighborhoods for the first time since 2008. There were few issues with the course last year, but the loop on the course’s southern stretch – really the only negative in the 2011 course – was tweaked.

Considering the issues hosting a marathon in Fargo poses – primarily the number of turns required to snake a 26.2-mile course through the metro – last year’s event was the best yet.

The real big change this year is starting the half-marathon before its big brother.

Last year, there were logistical issues with the marathon, which started earlier, and half-marathon runners converging on the course.

With the changes, congestion on the course might not be much of an issue this year. Still, my preference would be seeing the marathoners move to an even earlier time, giving them the benefit of running further distances in cooler morning temperatures.

But, more than anything, event officials need to address the water stops, which were woefully inadequate in the later stages of last year’s race. The stops were too short, poorly stocked and staffed with too few volunteers – all factors officials can control.

Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer Editor Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found online at runningspud.areavoices.com. He can be reached via email at swagner@bemidjipioneer.com.