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Eric Peterson, Published May 18 2012

Eyes on the radar: Race director, staff have plan in place for all types of weather

FARGO – Fargo Marathon race director Mark Knutson was placing mile markers Friday morning when he saw kids swimming in a plastic pool in their front yard.

In the eighth year of the event, Knutson has seen the other extreme, too – snow on the ground race morning. Weather is the one element Knutson and his staff can’t control, but always need to be ready to manage.

“We’re looking at that hourly forecast, just like everybody else,” Knutson said. “It seems like it’s deja vu all over again. Every year, we are doing this.”

WDAY meteorologist John Wheeler expects temperatures between 61 and 68 degrees this morning with a scattered showers or thunderstorms.

Wheeler said wind will be variable as a front passes during the morning and hard to predict.

The 10K is scheduled to start at 7 a.m. today, the half marathon at 7:30 a.m. and the full marathon at 8:15 p.m.

“If it’s raining, the gun goes off and people run,” Knutson said. “If it’s lightning and thundering, it delays the race.”

Knutson said the threat of severe weather prior to race start could mean a delay ranging from 30 to 60 minutes.

“If it’s 10 minutes before the race and there’s a big yellow, green glob of radar coming into Fargo from the west … certainly we are going to have to delay things there,” he said.

Knutson said Friday if any severe weather came through Fargo, he hoped it would happen overnight.

“It’s a lot of last-minute communication with the weather teams and radar watching and just kind of anticipating what’s going to happen; a lot of guessing,” Knutson said.

For example, Knutson said last year there was green on the radar all around the Fargo area and “it wasn’t raining.”

“We were just an island to ourselves last year,” Knutson said.

Carlson happy to be running at home

Fargo South graduate Andrew Carlson is one of the favorites in the men’s half marathon.

Carlson won the Fargo Half Marathon in 2007 with a time of 1 hour, 5 minutes, 2 seconds, which was a course record at the time.

“Running in Fargo is second to none for me,” said Carlson. “I don’t need to take a tour of the course. I just look at the map. I know all the streets.”

Scott already getting his message out

Even before E.J. Scott lined up for today’s full marathon, he felt his trip to Fargo was a success.

“Fargo has been fantastic publicity-wise,” Scott said. “People have been really interested in my story. It’s been great.”

Scott has choroideremia, a degenerative eye disease that is slowly taking his eyesight. Sunlight can accelerate his condition so the 36-year-old Scott will wear a blindfold for the race. He plans to run 12 marathons this year to raise awareness for the Choroideremia Research Foundation.

Notes and quotes

Knutson said there will be around 70 bands or DJs on the course today. “That doesn’t include the ones that are doing it on their own,” he said. “I think that is going to make for a great day.” In case of rain, Knutson said there are about 20 tents set up that would allow bands to still play. … Josh Cox, the American record holder in the 50K, is one of the guest speakers for the Fargo Marathon. Cox was impressed that 2,500 kids took part in Thursday’s Youth Run. Cox said running is too often viewed as negative or a punishment for youth. “The kids’ race shows them this is fun,” Cox said. “This is cool.” … Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker called the marathon “one of the premier events for the city,” and compared it to the annual Fargo Street Fair. “It’s at least as good as that,” Walaker said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com