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Published May 21 2012

Marathon tribute to dedication

This weekend’s Fargo Marathon posted an impressive run of numbers in its eighth annual iteration. Maybe the most compelling number in the many measurements of human achievement embodied in the effort is simply this: More than 25,000 people participated in the running events associated with the marathon. Most ran, of course, but some walked and others wheeled their way to the finish line.

Many who took part offered inspiring examples of the triumph of the human spirit. E.J. Scott took 5 hours and 20 minutes to complete the 26.2-mile marathon. He wore a blindfold to raise money in support of research to cure a degenerative eye disease that is slowly robbing him of sight. Wayne Bryan of Kewanee, Ill., pushed his daughter Tammy in a wheelchair in the half-marathon and finished with words of praise for the kindness of strangers. Burt Carlson of Mound, Minn., completed his 318th marathon at the age of 86, having run his first at age 57. Gary Korsagen of Park Rapids, Minn., finished his first half-marathon five years after suffering a heart attack.

Oliver Hoffmann won the men’s marathon after spending six weeks training in Kenya. His victory came in his first trip to the United States from his native Germany. It was only his second race. Moorhead’s own Lisa Dyer won the women’s marathon, the crowning achievement in a return to competitive running that began soon after the birth of her third child after a hiatus of five years.

Many ran the course with a cause. Tom Scheid was raising money for his brother Matt’s mission trip to Kenya. Their father’s church, Triumph Lutheran Brethren, raised $18,000 in last year’s Fargo Marathon to help build new water wells in Africa. Brooke Curran came from Alexandria, Va., to run her 47th marathon and has helped raise $140,000 for five charities – the past six marathons with help from an inhaler to treat her asthma.

Don’t forget the throngs of supporters who lined the marathon route to hand out water or shout encouragement for the runners. One of them, whose name isn’t known, spurred Bill Keen of Cedar Lake, Ind., to complete the race even after he “ran out of gas” at mile 20. It was Keen’s 14th marathon, and he finished with a time just under the 7-hour cutoff. He was the last to finish and the first to say, in the spirit of self-deprecation, “Somebody’s going to finish last.”

So many contestants. So many compelling stories. So many examples to motivate everyone to strive to achieve some worthy goal. What’s your marathon?

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