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Eric Peterson, Published May 19 2012

WATCH THE WILD FINISH: Men's half-marathon

FARGO – Andrew Carlson raised his arms about 40 meters from the finish line Saturday, thinking he had the Fargo Half Marathon won.

That’s when Joe Moore made his move.

Moore sprinted past Carlson in the final meters of the men’s race to take first place with a time of 1 hour, 4 minutes, 39.2 seconds. A stunned Carlson crossed the line three-tenths of a second behind Moore.

“I was coming hard, and there were a lot of people around,” said Moore, who is from Minneapolis. “I didn’t think I was going to catch up. I know how that feels to be about to win it and get nipped. … He’s a champion runner and it’s a career thing for me to finish ahead of him.”

Carlson, an elite runner who now races for Team USA Minnesota, had the top time in the field coming into the event.

“The other guy ran well,” Carlson said. “He stressed me out the whole race. I was trying to get away from him and I couldn’t do it.”

Carlson appeared to get slowed by a few 10K competitors in the final 40 meters of the race right as Moore started his winning kick.

Race director Mark Knutson said those 10K runners should have been on the other side of cones that were set up to create two lanes in the final stretch.

“Some of the beginners are not as used to the race protocol,” Knutson said.

“As we got into the tunnel, people everywhere, it was a little wild,” Moore said. “I think it was bad luck on his part. People all over and I just kind of went around.”

Carlson was visibly upset after he crossed the finish line. He flung his jersey into the air, and it ended up in the first row of the crowd. Carlson quickly went over and apologized to the spectator on which his jersey landed.

“It was a very embarrassing finish for me,” Carlson said. “To have it end the way it did, with me thinking I won and then losing, I’ve seen that happen before on TV. It’s like ‘I’ll never do that,’ and it happens. … I’m 30 years old, I should know this.”

Moore and Carlson separated from the pack early in the race, Moore said. Moore added he was hanging on for “dear life” for most of the 13.1 miles. Moore wasn’t sure he would have enough energy left to overtake Carlson at the end.

“I really didn’t think I was going to have a finish like that. It was surprising,” Moore said. “It’s the biggest win I’ve ever had by far. I have never beaten anyone of that caliber.”

Carlson, who finished sixth at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials last January, won the Fargo Half Marathon in 2007.

“It’s been a lot of big highs and some big lows,” Carlson said. “This is still real difficult for me to take. It’s just one of those days. The last six months, it’s been a little bit of good and a little bit of bad.”

The women’s half marathon also had a close finish. Ladia Albertson-Junkans held off Kelly Brinkman in the final meters to win the race in 1:18:33. Brinkman clocked a 1:18:35.

Albertson-Junkans, a former University of Minnesota runner, also won the half marathon last year.

“It’s all the better to be able to defend the title,” Albertson-Junkans said. “My grandma lives here in Fargo, and she was out on the course cheering me. I know it means a lot to her to have me here.”

Albertson-Junkans, 26, ran a winning time of 1:20:57 a year ago.

Saturday, she wasn’t sure if she would be to outdo Brinkman, 30, in the final stages of the race.

“I really started to doubt myself,” Albertson-Junkans said. “She made a really strong move about a half mile from the finish. She got a gap on me and I started to cramp up. … I found some sprint in me.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com