Marathon hopes for a top timeNow in its seventh year, the Fargo Marathon is forging a reputation around the country as an event to check out. About all that’s left to accomplish, said running coach Gerard Pearlberg, is for somebody to pop a fast time in a race.
By: By Jeff Kolpack , Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — Now in its seventh year, the Fargo Marathon is forging a reputation around the country as an event to check out. About all that’s left to accomplish, said running coach Gerard Pearlberg, is for somebody to pop a fast time in a race.
That could come today in the men’s half-marathon.
Seven runners are coming in with recent personal-best times between 1 hour, 3 minutes and 1:06, which puts them in a national class category. World class runners have PRs between 59 minutes and 1:02.
If the east to southeast wind holds this morning, the half-marathoners will have mostly a tail wind for a good chunk of the second half of the race.
“It will be interesting if we can get somebody in the 1:03 to 1:04 range,” said marathon executive director Mark Knutson.
Fargo South graduate Steve Sundell has the best PR time of 1:03, but he’s also coming off three years of competitive inactivity because of hip surgery.
“Once you get a 61-minute half, then you get that other layer coming,” Pearlberg said.
Participation continues to escalate in all events
Knutson said the final registration count is approximately 23,000, which is up about 15 percent from last year.
“The first year, we thought if we could get 500 people that we would be pretty excited,” he said. “We’re feeling fortunate and blessed with the numbers.”
The numbers are not likely to increase by 15 percent next year. Knutson said the streets can handle the numbers, but maintaining the quality of the event is more important.
Closing registrations with that many numbers is important, Knutson said, because T-shirts, bib numbers, timing chips and medals all need to be accounted for.
Between 2,000 and 2,500 volunteers will be on hand all weekend.
Knutson said the streets on all routes are in good shape and any evidence of a flood fight would be hard to find.
“Scars in this town are hard to find from the flood,” said Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker. “This is a good feeling for everybody whether you participate or not. We’re so happy to support this to a full effort.”
‘50 State’ club using Fargo as reunion site
The 50 State Marathon Club – runners who do a marathon in every U.S. state – is making Fargo a special race. It’s one of four reunion meetings for club members this year, and between 175 and 200 are expected this weekend.
The club has 2,453 members, said club vice president Charles Sayles of Glendale, Calif.
Sayles, 74, said this will be his 176th marathon. He’s done the 50-state tour twice. That pales in comparison to Eugene De Fronzo from Waterbury, Conn., who’s done it seven times. He’s 75 years old.
Sayles ran his first marathon at age 64. He said the Fargo Marathon is a good spot for a reunion because it’s a good marathon to knock North Dakota off the list.
The club had a booth at the marathon expo on the Fargodome floor Thursday and Friday.
“My wife was looking through some Facebook pictures of our reunions and she said these are not really meetings,” Sayles said. “They are parties.”
Kolpack is a sports writer at the Fargo Forum