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Jeff Kolpack, Published April 19 2013

Three new routes for Fargo Marathon being considered

FARGO – As the Red River is beginning its rise, the Fargo Marathon is closing in on adjusting its 26.2-mile route.

It’s nothing new for the event, which has had to change courses on several occasions. Marathon executive director Mark Knutson said his committee has decided on three options, with the first two having minimal changes.

In a best-case flood scenario where the river presents manageable problems, the route will probably eliminate River Drive in south Fargo and use the Old Milwaukee bike trail to the west of University Drive.

Option B also eliminates Second Street by Fargo City Hall, where a levy will be constructed once the river approaches major flood stage. With both options, the section in north Fargo will be at the end of the race instead of at the beginning and none of the options include Moorhead.

The last, and least preferred option, takes into account a record flood. In that case, the marathon would use the double-loop route it had in 2009.

“Absolute last resort,” Knutson said. “But we feel comfortable we have a couple of good options and we’re still keeping intact 90 percent of our original course we put together last fall.”

It could even be more than 90 percent, but Knutson said even though River Drive would be accessible during a high flood, he said in conversations with the Fargo city engineering office that it most likely wouldn’t be clean and safe.

“It could be like in ’09 where it was like a disaster zone,” he said. “Clay on the roads, yards torn up, and I think we’re better off with everything being away from that.”

Knutson said a course certification official from USA Track & Field will be in Fargo on Monday to officially measure the routes.

Updated drawings of the new route should be available early next week.

There will be minor changes made to the half-marathon route. The 5K and 10K courses will remain the same, no matter how high the river reaches, Knutson 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