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So far, slight decline in Fargo Marathon numbers follow national trend

Runners in the full marathon start their race in the 2016 Scheels Fargo Marathon Saturday, May 21, 2016, finishing in the Fargodome. Dave Wallis / Forum News Service

FARGO — It's been a spring party in Fargo-Moorhead every year for the last 12 years and other communities have taken notice. Successful events have sprung others to do it and the results have been met with mixed feelings.

The good: There are more events out there. The not-so-good: Numbers are declining in races across the country.

The Fargo Marathon, at least to this point, appears to be in the same boat.

Registrations are down about 5 percent from this time last year, said marathon executive director Mark Knutson.

"A lot of it has to do with supply and demand," he said. "When we started 13 years ago, there were probably five decent half-marathons within a three- to four-hour radius besides us. Thirteen years later, I bet we have 15-20 spring half-marathons out there as well as three or four full marathons that are new. It's just the way it is. I've talked with people across the country and they're all feeling it."

Still, being down 5 percent doesn't translate to much of a decline.

Last year's event drew 22,000 for all events, which includes the marathon, half-marathon, marathon relay, 10K, 5K, youth run, Fargo dog run and cyclothon. The marathon week kicks off on Monday, May 15 with the cyclothon, which is adding a 15-mile course in addition to the 26.2-mile route.

As usual, the 10K and half-marathon events will be the first to approach being capped, with 3,065 of the 5,500 half-marathon slots already spoken for and 1,777 of the available 4,000 10K spots being taken as of this weekend.

The Saturday, May 20 marathon, with 2,000 available bib numbers, has 1,241 registrants. The pace of registrations with the 26.2-mile race tends to slow since training for the longer race involves a longer time period. In other words, if you haven't started training for the marathon, it may be bordering on being too late.

A typical, safe training plan is somewhere around 13 weeks.

"It's not like we're down 10, 20 or 30 percent," Knutson said. "From our standpoint, we're going to keep doing what we're doing and that's to focus on quality events. I'm OK with it. We have new things with new hoodies, adding a dog run and cyclothon has been good. We've got diversity with the customer events."

Jeff Kolpack

Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.

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