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Steve Wagner, Published September 02 2012

Wagner: What makes a race special to you?

Bemidji, Minn.

For the past four months, a group of 12 to 15 people have been meeting monthly to plan and organize the inaugural Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon, set for Oct. 12, 2013.

The event also will offer a half-marathon, 5K and kids run as part of the weekend in the First City on the Mississippi.

As a member of the organizing committee, my goal is to make sure runners have a top-notch experience, from the expo, a scenic course, finish-line atmosphere and post-race festivities. That’s where I’d like you to share what you liked – or didn’t like – about races that you’ve run. Are there standout experiences that make one race better than another? Is there something that makes a particular race special to you? I’d like to hear about them and share with the Bemidji marathon group.

This isn’t the first time a marathon will be held in Bemidji. That distinction dates back to 1981, when a group of runners gathered for the Union Station Marathon. It was a hot September day, and while there were 160 finishers, there were quite a few who didn’t make it to the finish line. And for whatever reason, there was not a race the following year.

But now more than three decades later, a group of committed runners, eager to bring a marathon back to the Northwoods, are ready to make it happen. This past week, members of the course committee gathered to iron out details for the course’s layout – which once it’s USATF certified – will circle Lake Bemidji and incorporate bike paths, trails and views of the water.

Mark Peske, a local pastor and marathon committee member, summed up organizers’ hopes.

“If the Twin Cities has the world’s most beautiful urban marathon, I think we have a shot at the most beautiful marathon anywhere,” Peske said.


Bemidji Pioneer Editor Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found online at runningspud.areavoices.com. He can be reached via email at swagner@bemidjipioneer.com.