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Jeff Kolpack, Published May 17 2012

One of Fargo Marathon favorites makes first trip to USA

FARGO – Before Oliver Hoffmann runs 26.2 miles on Saturday, he immersed himself in his own walk-a-thon this week. The problem: He needed an adapter because the electrical system in Germany differs from the United States.

So, from his room at Niskanen Hall on the North Dakota State campus, he hiked to Best Buy near West Acres and back. It took four hours in all.

“I saw a lot of Fargo,” Hoffmann said.

He’ll see a lot more of it on Saturday. He’s one of the favorites in the eighth annual Fargo Marathon, which starts at 8 a.m. near the Fargodome.

If successful, it would make his first trip to the United States all the more memorable. He picked the Fargo Marathon on the recommendation of a friend for its flat, fast course.

The 27-year-old native of Rossdorf, a small village of about 1,000 people north of Frankfurt, has run one marathon, finishing the Valencia Marathon in Spain in 2 hours, 26 minutes. The race advertises itself as a flat course perfect for a personal-best time.

Fargo has a similar vibe. Hoffmann said he’s shooting for a 2:22 on Saturday.

That was close to the winning time last year by Luke Watson of State College, Pa. Hoffmann said he considered other, bigger marathons but wanted one where he could run with the leaders at his pace.

He’s run two other marathons as a pacer for female elite runners; one in 2:35 and the other in 2:42.

Hoffmann recently traveled to Etin, Kenya, to train for a few weeks. He did it to work out with world elite runners.

“All the big guys train there,” he said. “You go for a morning run and there’s an Olympic champion. Or there’s a world record holder passing you.”

He flew in to Fargo last Saturday to get a feel for the course and the area. There have been no complaints with the exception of the wind.

He heads back to Germany on Sunday. He also has another electrical adapter the next time he returns to the U.S.

“It’s been very nice here,” he said.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia

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