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Jeff Kolpack, Published May 05 2014

‘A heck of a run’ in Fargo: After 10 years, Almquist leaving Fargo Marathon

FARGO - It started with two men and a vision, and when the Fargo Marathon is taken into the big picture, its place in Fargo-Moorhead community history would have to be near the top. That thought leaves Mike Almquist almost speechless.

He’s just not a spotlight kind of guy. He’ll use words like humbling and rewarding as the race enters its 10th anniversary this weekend.

It will also be his last with Go Far Events.

“After 10 years, sometimes you know internally it’s time to move on to something else,” Almquist said. “I feel like now is the time to open up an opportunity for somebody else to step up.”

The marathon evolved from a Run for the Children half-marathon that benefitted The Children’s Museum at Yunker Farm. That three-year event evolved into the first Fargo Marathon in 2005. At the time, both Knutson and Almquist were 100 percent volunteers – the Go Far Events company that is hired to manage the Fargo Marathon came later.

“It’s a completely different animal going from 200 to 25,000,” Almquist said. “It’s the same stuff, you just plan more quantities of everything. Everything is of larger scale but if you can do a small race with good quality, you can do a large race with good quality.”

Knutson said Almquist has had a hand in all aspects of the race. He was particularly adept at the courses the races have used over the years and has been a fixture in the lead pace car.

“He’s a student of the sport and we did a lot of planning in those early days,” Knutson said. “In terms of his role with Go Far Events, that’s a big loss for us.”

They would frequently go on long runs, talking about what the best route would be for a certain distance. Almquist said this week he’s actually looking forward to being more of a consumer of the marathon rather than a worker.

He’s a runner, after all.

“I can’t imagine anything from a professional standpoint being more rewarding than this marathon project,” he said. “It’s been a privilege to be a part of this team. At heart, I’m a runner. I’m looking forward to being more of a customer at starting lines. Knowing what goes into it, I know I’ll be more respectful.”

Almquist, from Watertown, S.D., resigned from his full-time job with Corvel Corp. in Moorhead to put 100 percent effort into the running business starting in 2008.

That was the year the marathon surpassed 10,000 participants. It’s probably the year when it was no longer considered a big local event but a national event which attracted runners from across the country.

Almquist remembers when he and Knutson were happy to have 200 runners in the 2002 Run for the Children race.

Almquist said he’s probably not going to miss the deadlines in the few weeks leading up to the race. He’s probably going to miss seeing all the runners at the finish line.

“The best part is seeing more runners experience the Fargo Marathon experience,” he said. “It’s been a part of me for 10 years. And it’s been a heck of a run, so to speak.”

If you go

Thursday: Youth run, 7 p.m.

Friday: 5K run/walk, 7 p.m.

Saturday: 10K, half marathon, full marathon, 8 a.m.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia