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Kevin Schnepf, Published August 21 2013

Fargo Marathon returning to its downtown roots for 10-year anniversary

FARGO – The Fargo Marathon is returning to its downtown roots.

After starting and finishing at the Fargodome for the last eight years, next year’s Fargo Marathon will start and finish near downtown. It will begin on the Veterans Memorial Bridge – the same place it started in the inaugural event in 2005 – and will finish on Broadway near the Fargo Theatre.

“Because it will be our 10-year anniversary, we wanted to do something a little different,” Fargo Marathon executive director Mark Knutson said during a Wednesday morning news conference in downtown Fargo. “It seemed only fitting that we would start on the Main Avenue bridge like we did in 2005. And we came to the realization that one of the iconic figures of the Fargo Marathon is the Fargo Theater.”

The Fargo Marathon has grown from the 2,600 runners it had in 2005 to more than 24,000 last year competing in different races over a three-day period. Knutson said a big reason for the Fargo Marathon’s success has been the Fargodome – where runners can finish in the comfort of indoors and where spectators had grandstand seating at the finish line.

“It’s important for me to stress that there is not an issue with the Fargodome,” Knutson said. “The staff at the Fargodome has embraced us. Will we miss the indoor finish? Yep.

“So if we show up next year and if it’s snowing or raining, everybody is going to be saying, ‘I told you so,’” Knutson said. “But we just have to take that chance.”

Knutson said this is not a permanent change. When asked if it was just a one-year deal, Knutson said: “One year, right now. We take it one year at a time.”

Fargodome manager Rob Sobolik, who has been actively involved in the management of the last eight Fargo Marathons, hopes the best for next year’s venture.

“We here at the Fargodome are proud of our accomplishments and how we’ve helped what the Fargo Marathon has become,” Sobolik said. “The Fargo Marathon has to do what they feel is the best for the Fargo Marathon.”

The Fargodome also provided ample parking for runners and spectators. Knutson admitted parking will be a challenge with the downtown venue.

“I think the parking piece we can figure out,” Knutson said, adding that they are looking at providing shuttle buses to downtown.

Knutson said most of Broadway will be closed for the entire Saturday that the full marathon, half marathon and 10K runs are held. He mentioned the possibility of holding a street dance on Broadway that night.

According to Knutson, the Thursday night youth run will start on the First Avenue bridge, run into Moorhead and finish at the Civic Center. The Friday night 5K run, which has attracted more than 8,000 runners, will start on the First Avenue bridge, run into Moorhead, return on Veterans Memorial bridge and possibly finishing at Fargo’s Island Park.

The marathon course will also run into Moorhead, including the Concordia campus. The finish line will be about 20 yards south of the Fargo Theatre on Broadway.

“Some people are concerned about traffic,” said Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker. “When you take our street fair, which is about 40,000 people per day for three days, I don’t see any problems. We will make this work.”

Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor

Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549