Flat, fast, friendly, and fun. 2009 will be the fifth year of the Fargo marathon and several members of the Concordia community are gearing up for the May 9 races that include a 5K Fun Run/Walk, the relay marathon, half marathon, and full marathon.

This year, the course starts at the Fargodome and continues to NDSU, downtown Fargo, and the neighborhoods along Eighth Street in South Fargo. From there, the runners will jog through the golf courses of the Fargo Country Club and Rose Creek before crossing over into Moorhead. The course continues across the Main Avenue Bridge goes through the Concordia campus and for the first time through MSUM. Concordia has been part of the route since 2007, and has been mile marker 17 in the past. This year Concordia will be even closer to the end of the course at mile marker 21, just five miles short of the finish line in the Fargodome.

Senior Breanne Bian ran the full marathon last spring.

“I’ve always wanted to run one so I just decided to run it,” Bian said. “It’s another thing to cross off.”

Bian particularly loves the part of the course that goes through Concordia, recalling rows of fans, foghorns, and signs. She is running the half marathon this year because she is busy preparing for graduation and an upcoming trip. “I’ll definitely run another one,” Bian said.

She also encourages any student or faculty or administrator intrigued by the marathon but have never ran one before to give it a try.

“As a first time marathoner, I would recommend it,” Bian said. “The support is phenomenal.”

Concordia librarians Erika Rux and Amy Soma are training to run the relay marathon with two friends for a total of six and a half miles each. Rux has participated in the 5K before, but this is her first time running in the marathon. Rux is very excited and has already started a training schedule by Hal Higdon, author of the best-selling book “Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide.”

Associate Director of Admissions Steve Schaefer organizes the aid station and volunteers for Concordia. Schaefer ran the marathon in 2006 with the Red River Valley Runners, where he met director of the marathon, Mark Knutson. Schaefer got to know Knutson well and asked him if he would be interested in adding Concordia to the route.

“I had two goals in mind,” Schaefer said. “I wanted it on campus and wanted to get Moorhead more involved.”

Concordia was added to the route in 2007, and since then Schaefer has been the lead coordinator for preparing campus for the thousands of runners from across the nation and even a few foreign countries. The marathon began in 2005 with just 2,500 runners, but Fargo saw 13,000 runners arrive last year. An even bigger turnout is expected this spring. Schaefer is quick to point out that he does not act alone. He says it has definitely been a Concordia cooperative effort, noting Facilities Management, Dining Services, Admissions, Communications and Marketing, Campus Security, and others have all played major roles.

Bian declared Concordia as one of her favorite parts of the race, but she isn’t alone. Schaefer says that Concordia has always gotten good feedback in surveys done by marathon organizers. He says Eighth Street with the beautiful homes, tree lines, and crowds of spectators is usually rated number one, but “Concordia is always right up there, second or third.”

Marathon organizers provide an outline of what you need at an aid station but encourage creativity and personalization. In the past, Concordia has lined the path through campus with Cobber pennants, rang the bells as runners make their way through campus, and even had Kernel out to cheer on the runners. Schaefer is working this year to bring some music or other form of entertainment to the mix, citing the Cobber Band or Six Appeal as possibilities.

Despite the entertainment and decorations, Schaefer notes the most important thing to have at Concordia during the race.

“From a runner’s perspective, the best thing we can do on campus is got a lot of fans. That encouragement is just huge.”

Marisa Paulson

Marisa Paulson is a senior and the news & features editor of The Concordian, although she still writes when she can. She plans to attend the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in fall 2011.

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