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Cindy Lee Deuser, Fargo, Published June 02 2013

Letter: Amazing support at the Fargo marathon

I had no business running the Fargo Marathon this year. I had lots of excuses – some of them even good.

I was in no shape for 26.2 miles, but I haven’t missed a Fargo Marathon yet, so I ran. I started at the back of the pack and stayed there; my only goal was to finish under the course limit and in one piece. So six hours into the race, when runners are spaced so far apart it’s hard to tell there even is a race going on, the volunteers were still stopping traffic for me as I shuffled slowly across intersections, and spectators were still cheering sometimes when I was the lone runner on the block.

On Broadway, I heard a woman belting out a song blocks before I saw her and her band, and for those blocks my legs didn’t seem to hurt as much. They played as enthusiastically for us – the back of the pack – as if we were frontrunners, giving us that little burst of energy we so desperately needed.

The back of the pack can be a lonely place, and as our bodies began to let us down and the warm, humid day wore on, it was those spectators who kept us going – the little girl on Eighth Street who gave me a fist pump; the man with his Weimaraner who told me I looked strong when I was weak; the group of women who got out of their lawn chairs to give me a standing ovation at around Mile 24; the volunteer, just doing her job, who did her best to stop an impatient van driver from entering the race course; and especially Elvis in north Fargo, who made me smile when I felt more like crying.

I want all these people who stayed until the last runner stumbled by to know how much they helped and how important they are to this great event. It was a hard marathon for me to finish, but the volunteers and spectators made it harder for me to quit.