« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Jeff Kolpack, Published May 14 2013

87-year-old Carlson one of 35 who has run every Fargo Marathon

FARGO – Recently divorced at age 57 and looking for something different, Burt Carlson started hanging out with some runners, triathletes and bicyclists. That was 322 marathons and 30 years ago.

On Saturday, No. 323 will carry some significance in more than just another 26.2-mile run for the Mound, Minn., resident. He’s one of only 35 remaining members of the Fargo Marathon “charter club,” runners who have completed the first eight races.

His best time was 5 hours, 29 minutes, 17 seconds in 2006. Then again, it really doesn’t matter.

“I’m feeling on top of the world,” Carlson said. “As far as I’m concerned, every day is a wonderful day, some days are more wonderful than others. I have no significant problems.”

For Carlson, the Fargo race is appealing because the event doesn’t close until seven hours after the starting gun. Most marathons, Carlson said, are stopped at six hours.

Saturday morning, he will start chugging along when the race starts at 8:15 a.m. and he may push seven hours again.

“At the finish line, tell them to leave the lights on for me,” he said of the Fargodome officials.

Carlson is on a relatively short world-wide list of runners who have completed at least 300 marathons. The most recent was the 24th Annual Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon in White Sands, N.M., in March.

At 87, he said he only remembers encountering runners his age once or twice in his running career. He’s also completed 52 ultra marathons.

“I like to raise the bar for those 70-year-olds coming up on my heels,” Carlson quipped. “There are a couple of strong runners in their 70s that have beaten records I’ve set. At the moment, there is nobody that has a Minnesota state record for my age and up.”

Carlson retired as a mechanical engineer at 3M at age 65. He still travels to world destinations once or twice a year.

On Tuesday, he finally got some yard work done and his dock put in on Lake Minnetonka. He also had time to fish for a couple of hours, catching one northern.

He’s more active at his age than most Americans are at any age. He calls his training runs more like “recreational runs” and will start to increase the mileage the closer it gets to a marathon.

That could consist of a 5-mile run, a 10-miler or a 15-miler. Or, whatever he feels like. He stays in shape by always being busy.

“I’m always working around the house or making something,” he said. “I just like being busy and doing something physical.”

Later in the week, he’ll get in his car and drive from his suburban Twin Cities home to Fargo. In 2011, he finished in 7:08.05. Last year, he bettered that by a half hour.

Then again, it doesn’t really matter. Just leave the lights on for him.

“The crowd support up there is terrific,” he 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