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Steve Wagner, Published May 06 2012

Wagner: Fargo Marathon 5K bolsters event numbers

Bemidji, Minn.

With less than two weeks, the Fargo Marathon – with its variety of events – could again break new ground.

With a few hundred slots open in most races, a record number of entrants is once again possible. If this year’s marathon weekend tops the record attendance of 23,057 entrants in 2011, it will happen on the strength of the Friday night 5K.

Interestingly, I decided to take a look at the largest 5K races in the U.S. If enough runners sign up for the 3.1-mile distance, Fargo could find itself on another top 10 list.

There were eight races in 2010 with 10,000 finishers, according to Running USA. Of those races, all were in major metropolitan areas with the exception of Boise, Idaho. It turns out Mark Knutson, race director for the Fargo event, hopes to reach the 10,000 entrant milestone, and in turn qualify for a matching program that would provide 1,000 pairs of running shoes to needy children in the Red River Valley.

Now in its eighth year, the Fargo Marathon – and its cadre of events – has helped turn the Fargo-Moorhead area into a running community. While the race itself has become one of the metro’s biggest annual events, the community has embraced running as a lifestyle.

It’s that lifestyle that can make positive change, from lower rates of obesity, diabetes and other health-related problems. It helps each of us recreate ourselves and strive for improvement. Running is infectious, motivating and inspiring others to start moving too.

Many of those who started with the 5K or marathon relay in Fargo have graduated to longer distances. They now find themselves running the 10K, half marathon and marathon.

If the 5K is going to reach the 10,000 runner goal this year, it will largely rely on newer runners who want to be a part of weekend events, or those who plan to volunteer or cheer on Saturday.

Will the F-M area continue its progression as a running community? We’ll find out May 18-19.

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