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Jeff Kolpack, Published May 18 2012

Dragons have strong showing in Fargo Marathon 5K

FARGO – Minnesota State Moorhead carried the flag for more than 9,500 runners and walkers Friday night. Two Dragons, one current and one former, finished 1-2 in the Fargo 5K.

It was a case where the old guy showed the young guy a few things down the stretch. Mike McConnell, a 24-year-old former track and field and cross country runner, outkicked MSUM sophomore Jamison Gehrig in the last mile to win the 3.1-mile race, which finished in front of the Fargodome.

“It was warm and I didn’t know what to expect,” McConnell said. “It was a comfortable pace.”

The two friends had plenty to talk about afterward. McConnell plans on hitting more road races now that his track career is behind him. He’s only been training for a couple of months.

“I was not much of a road racer in college,” he said. “Now I’m trying to get in shape for the roads.”

It generally takes awhile for college runners to get the mileage up to a point where they can carry a good pace more than a few miles. Gehrig, from West Fargo, certainly isn’t there, although he wasn’t complaining.

Asked if he let McConnell win for the sake of good alumni relations, Gehrig played along with the joke.

“You have to give them one every once in awhile,” he said. “It was just fun to get on the road. I’ve always been used to the track and golf courses.”

McConnell’s time of 16 minutes, 5 seconds was at a 5:11-per-mile pace. The 20-year-old Gehrig, who owns a personal 5K record of 15:35, finished in 16:34.

He led for the first two miles before, he said, losing focus. McConnell caught him with about three-quarters of a mile remaining.

“All season I’ve been more of an 800 runner,” 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

E 5:30 a.m.: Fargodome lobby opens for runners

E 7 a.m.: 10K run/walk start, University Drive near the Fargodome

E 7:30 a.m.: Half-marathon start, University Drive near the Fargodome

E 8:10 a.m.: Marathon wheelchair start, University Drive near the Fargodome

E 8:15 a.m.: Marathon start, University Drive near the Fargodome

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