North Dakota: state #37
We started by flying into Bismarck and driving to Fargo. The race expo was a two day event held at the Fargo Dome on the campus of North Dakota State University. I got there on the first day of the expo as soon as they opened. There was a little bit of a line for the bib pick-up, but it moved quickly. There were some vendors at the expo and it was a nice opportunity to check out the inside of the dome.
The day before the race, we explored Fargo and a few local parks and wildlife preserves. We visited the welcome center to see the original wood chipper from the movie, saw the historic Fargo Theater and picked up some cookies from Crumbl.
Race day starts in the dome. This is a great place for a race start. They had plenty of restrooms inside and you don't have to wait in the elements if the weather is bad. It’s also nice for non-running family members. They are able to sit in the stands and wait and the concession stands are open as well.
There are 3 distances running at once, a 10K, half and full marathon. Each one has it’s own start time and each course differs slightly. There are no corrals, but there are pacers where runners should align themselves. Of course there are those at the front that go out at a 9 min pace.
The course is mostly flat. There are a couple underpasses and a bridge, but the overall gain was less than 400 feet. You travel through a lot of neighborhoods, around a park and through Moorhead College. About 4 of those miles are in Minnesota. The only issue, it that there are a lot of turns which can slow the momentum at times. Luckily, most areas are well marked and there are volunteers there to help. There were a few places that were a little desolate, but the college and neighborhoods had pretty good support. Family’s were out on their lawns cheering for random strangers and was like a block party.
There seemed to be a good amount of fluid stations offering water and powerade. There was at least one Gu station and orange slices. I didn’t notice many port-a-johns along the way, but you generally only notice if you need one. Luckily, I did not need one.
The weather was good. You never know what you might get in Fargo this time of the year. It was a little warm for me by the end, mid-sixties, with lots of sun and a moderate breeze.
Runners finish inside the dome with a video of themselves on the big screen. The DJ announces your name and where you’re from. There were donuts and some other snacks at the end. Parking and getting into/out of the dome were pretty easy. They do also offer a shuttle service.
It was a long 6 months since my disaster in New York. It was a bad way to end 2022. I wanted to redeem myself and get that out of my mind. I struggled those last few miles, so I didn't hit my ultimate goal of a sub 3, but it was my 2nd best marathon. I was happy to move on from New York.
At the race expo, they were handing out hand towels with the race logo. I was glad I picked one up. I was leaving Fargo as soon as the race was over and my hotel would not give me a late checkout. Luckily for everyone I was riding with, they let runners use the locker rooms to shower. They didn't have towels available, but I had my hand towel from the expo. It was certainly better than nothing. Runners receive a nice sweatshirt, backpack and a decent sized medal. Overall, it was a good race experience.
After the race (and shower), we headed to the other side of North Dakota to Medora so we could visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Medora was a cute little western town with food, souvenirs and easy access to the park. TRNP is not the most visited national park, but it is worth the visit. There is a large contrast between most of North Dakota and the western edge.