Overall Rating
Overall Rating (272 Reviews)
4.7
(272 Ratings)(272 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2.4
SCENERY
3.9
PRODUCTION
4.7
SWAG
4.5
2020 EVENT WILL BE VIRTUAL ONLY. *** With a week full of events, the Fargo Marathon is bound to have something for everyone. From the Cyclothon, Furgo Dog Run, Largest Kid’s Race, 5K Walk/Run, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon and Relays, there is a distance for all! Starting from inside … MORE
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Recent reviews

    M_Sohaskey FIRST-TIMER '19

    BOTTOM LINE: Sometimes a marathon weekend just feels good from start to finish — marathons like Missoula and Jackson Hole spring to mind, and Fargo is high on that list. … MORE

    BOTTOM LINE: Sometimes a marathon weekend just feels good from start to finish — marathons like Missoula and Jackson Hole spring to mind, and Fargo is high on that list. Which is a major reason this has become the go-to marathon in North Dakota for 50 States runners like me. With a tagline like “North of Normal,” the state’s largest city clearly embraces its cool and quirky vibe, and is an easy place to spend a memorable weekend. A word to the weather-wise, though: do come layered up and ready to withstand winter’s last gasp — even in mid-May, with most states happily transitioning to hay fever season, Fargo (and its adjacent sister city Moorhead, MN) greeted us with wind, rain and temperatures in the mid-40s. That said, for race director Mark Knutson and his team this clearly wasn’t their first rodeo, and the race’s start & finish inside the Fargodome on the NDSU campus was a stroke of genius. Because on a race day when Mother Nature was in foul temper, truly there was no place like Dome.

    Outside of race activities, three examples of Fargo’s quirky charm that await your discovery: 1) As you drive around town, keep an eye out for the 15 or so full-size, painted fiberglass bison that adorn the city; these were commissioned for the 2005 art project Herd About The Prairie: A Virtual Art Stampede and were first unveiled at the 2006 marathon (see uploaded collage); 2) For fans of the 1996 eponymous Oscar-winning movie by the Coen Brothers, the actual woodchipper used in the film is on display in the Fargo–Moorhead Visitors Center; 3) As you might expect in a college town where winter tends to usurp much of spring and autumn, Fargo features an impressive microbrewery scene, and I can personally recommend the friendly confines of the Drekker Brewing Company where we met RaceRaves member John P. after the race. John is a pro when it comes to (in his words) “post-race pain management,” so if you’re a 50 Stater or traveling runner who’s always looking for the best places across the country to grab a post-race beer, follow @slowjuan and check out his reviews on RaceRaves.

    If you have limited travel opportunities, I can certainly see why you’d prioritize Hawaii, California or even Montana over North Dakota. But if you’re a traveling runner intent on exploring and experiencing the United States in all its color and flavor, then I can’t recommend Fargo enough, dontcha know.

    A note on travel: as Southwest Airlines devotees we flew into the closest hub, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), on Thursday (for a Saturday race) and drove the 250 miles across Minnesota to Fargo, a wide-open drive that featured greenery galore plus a whole lot of farmland and several of the state’s celebrated 10,000+ lakes.

    PRODUCTION: Note to race directors: you’ll go far with production like Fargo’s. As mentioned above, Executive Director Mark Knutson clearly knows what he’s doing, having launched the marathon in 2005 and helmed numerous other events in addition. The prerace expo, with vendor booths uniquely situated on the concourse of the Fargodome, was thoughtfully designed and easily navigated, highlighted by a surprisingly interesting session with guest speakers Cindy Lewandowski and Scott Jansky, the winners of the inaugural 2005 Fargo Marathon. Each was returning to the Fargo Marathon for the first time, and they talked about their lives post-Fargo, with Cindy having gone on to complete a marathon in all 50 states.

    Aid stations along the course featured signs to distinguish water from Powerade. And though this detail may seem small, veteran runners will appreciate its significance — during a marathon, the brain goes into standby mode as glucose is shunted to the muscles where it’s needed, so any visual cue a race director can provide to take the onus of decision-making off the runners will be advantageous and much appreciated. No runner likes having to waste time and energy at an aid station sorting out which drink is which with a well-meaning but frazzled volunteer, and especially if all drinks are served in the same nondescript white Dixie cup (though as I write this now during the COVID-19 pandemic, individual cups served by volunteers may soon be a thing of the past). And another example of Fargo’s keen attention to detail — for all those runners inevitably staring down at their shoe tops late in the race, the mile markers were noted in white paint on the street. So unless you were running with your eyes closed (in which case you had bigger problems than losing track of distance), you couldn’t miss them. Together with smart touches like these, starting and finishing inside the Fargodome may have been the wild card that earns Fargo a 5-shoe rating.

    One hint for getting to the Fargodome on race morning: traffic on I–29 leading into the dome was a mess, with a long line to exit the highway. If you come from a big city or somewhere like SoCal where highway driving can sometimes feel like one of the desert chase scenes from “Mad Max: Fury Road,” you’ll quickly recognize that Fargo drivers (like their non-driving counterparts) are incredibly nice people, and that hypothetically speaking you could potentially save yourself a ton of time by bypassing them all and then quickly merging back into the slow-moving line closer to the exit. I’d never be the one to condone such behavior, much less recommend it, but I’m just saying in theory it’s possible.

    SWAG: Definitely among the best I’ve received, including a sturdy orange drawstring bag with two zippered pockets, as well as what’s quickly become one of my two favorite hoodies — an attractive offering with denim-blue sleeves/hood and gray torso emblazoned with the colorful Fargo Marathon logo (on that note, I’d urge other RDs looking for quality race swag to take a close look at CI Apparel in Fargo). The finisher medal, always the true object of my swag affection, is colorful (maybe too colorful) and hefty enough to cause a neck cramp, though the medal’s muddled collage imagery is a bit busy for my taste, as though the designer were considering a number of candidate images and ultimately decided to include them all. On the back of the medal, a Fargo tradition as I understand it, is engraved a relevant Bible verse familiar to many runners: “Let us run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us” Hebrews 12:1. And finally, rounding out Fargo’s top-notch swag was a race poster featuring the same imagery as the medal. All in all, marathon #40 in state #27 was a runaway success, and between Fargo and my 2011 experience at Crazy Horse, I’m almost willing to concede the value of having two Dakotas. Almost.

    For a full rundown of Fargo Marathon weekend, check out my blog recap at https://bit.ly/2LvWwnb

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    6 members marked this review helpful. Agree?

    lassieandmax May 26, 2020 at 3:27pm

    I could not agree more! Fargo is a top-notch race and seems to be a well-kept secret in the midwest, as most runners tend to gravitate to Grandma's instead. In… MORE

    I could not agree more! Fargo is a top-notch race and seems to be a well-kept secret in the midwest, as most runners tend to gravitate to Grandma's instead. In my view, Fargo takes the cake any day. LESS

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    M_Sohaskey May 27, 2020 at 10:02am

    Thanks, Amy! The Midwest has so many great races, and so many I'd still love to run (Grandma's and Flying Pig among them). And I'm loving your Future Races table,… MORE

    Thanks, Amy! The Midwest has so many great races, and so many I'd still love to run (Grandma's and Flying Pig among them). And I'm loving your Future Races table, some great inspiration there. Fingers crossed you're able to run St. George and the River Run this fall! 🤞 LESS

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    dsbland May 13, 2020 at 5:19am

    Fargo was a blast, reading your review really makes me realize how much I have missed racing since running NYC in November! Thanks again for the hat you gave me… MORE

    Fargo was a blast, reading your review really makes me realize how much I have missed racing since running NYC in November! Thanks again for the hat you gave me in the finishers chute at Fargo, it's starting to get worn out so I'm going to need a new one soon! LESS

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    M_Sohaskey May 14, 2020 at 1:55pm

    Thanks Scott, glad I could help release some residual race-day adrenaline! And glad you're making good use of the hat, our finish-line meeting was a definite highlight of the weekend… MORE

    Thanks Scott, glad I could help release some residual race-day adrenaline! And glad you're making good use of the hat, our finish-line meeting was a definite highlight of the weekend and I mentioned it in my blog recap (which is even more detailed than my review, if you can't get enough Fargo!). Hope you're staying well during these bizarre times, and that we have the chance to meet at another start or finish line soon enough. Hang in there and keep running strong! LESS

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    aamb REPEAT RUNNER '14

    Finish in the Fargodome was awesome. Nice flat course, a lot of areas had great and unique support. Great finish area and medals are nice. Option to do a 5k … MORE

    Finish in the Fargodome was awesome. Nice flat course, a lot of areas had great and unique support. Great finish area and medals are nice. Option to do a 5k the night before to receive an extra challenge medal.

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    rhellyer REPEAT RUNNER '19

    This race weekend is always such a blast! Fargo really rolls out the welcome mat and shows what ND Nice looks like! Have ran the Relay the last several years … MORE

    This race weekend is always such a blast! Fargo really rolls out the welcome mat and shows what ND Nice looks like! Have ran the Relay the last several years and despite the rain, wind and cold, it was still a fantastic time with some great, strong ladies! Will be back again and again!

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    mnjogger FIRST-TIMER '19

    I arrived at the Expo when the 5k was going on so getting into the parking lot was a little challenging. I didn't spend a lot of time at the … MORE

    I arrived at the Expo when the 5k was going on so getting into the parking lot was a little challenging. I didn’t spend a lot of time at the Expo since I arrived near their closing hours. It was an efficient in-and-out though. Great race poster, drop bag/backpack, and hoodie as swag! The finisher medal has the same design as the poster and is noteworthy for its 4.5″ x 5″ size and inscription on the back that others have also mentioned.

    I didn’t have any time goal on this race – just finish! Temps stayed in the low 40s. Winds were quite strong at times (20+ mph on the weather apps) with rain most of the time. At times I needed to just lower my head to charge into the wind. It was nice to start and finish in the Fargodome in shelter. Things were well coordinated there and comfy.

    The course is mostly asphalt thru neighborhoods and college campuses and is well-marked. While it is not scenic in the sense of Big Sur, I enjoyed seeing the houses and parks. Final distance was 26.5 for me, so pretty efficient despite turns and out-and-backs. I never felt crowded on the course and never felt alone either. I give Fargo residents a lot of credit for coming out and supporting the race in this weather. Lots of people were at the end of their driveways in the rain or on their porches cheering us on … both young and old. Bands even showed up playing under tents, in garages, and in foyers at the colleges. I feel for the volunteers who stood out there for hours in this weather. Water stops were generally where they were advertised to be with one or two exceptions and enough port-o-potties on the course. The volunteers did a fantastic job throughout the event.

    I did not attend the after-party at night so cannot comment on that.

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    M_Sohaskey May 22, 2019 at 1:23pm

    Well said, David! I was out there running along with you and YES, the volunteers and spectators were just amazing, they made my day (along with starting and finishing inside… MORE

    Well said, David! I was out there running along with you and YES, the volunteers and spectators were just amazing, they made my day (along with starting and finishing inside the Fargodome, of course). The medal is awesome, isn't it? I thought I was going to get a neck cramp when they first hung it on me. Congrats on toughing out the weather (though coming from MN, you're already a bit tougher than us thin-skinned SoCal types), and thanks for another excellent review! LESS

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    HardRockMom FIRST-TIMER '19

    Start and finish in the Fargodome. Best quality swag ever! Very organized. The expo was large and relevant. I had a blast. The most fun at a half since Disney … MORE

    Start and finish in the Fargodome. Best quality swag ever! Very organized. The expo was large and relevant. I had a blast. The most fun at a half since Disney (tough to beat Disney). Friendly area with good eats and interesting things to do. Close to an airport for those coming from far. I highly recommend this one!

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    rhames66 REPEAT RUNNER '19

    Having the race start and also finish inside the Fargodome is a fantastic advantage, especially when the weather outside turns out to be cool, wet, and windy (aka the Fargo … MORE

    Having the race start and also finish inside the Fargodome is a fantastic advantage, especially when the weather outside turns out to be cool, wet, and windy (aka the Fargo hat trick). I was able to stay warm and dry while getting ready for the race, and my family stayed warm and dry while enjoying the atmosphere and waiting for me.

    The very flat course had great fan and volunteer support, regardless of the bad weather. Everyone was friendly and enthusiastic.

    The course was a nice run through mostly residential areas. I believe that one or two of the more scenic stretches had to be rerouted this year because of flooding issues.

    I will definitely run Fargo again.

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    Rnealpotts FIRST-TIMER '19

    Lived up to the hype. Having heard how popular the race was I made travel arrangements 9 months in advance. Needed a race in North Dakota for my 47th state. … MORE

    Lived up to the hype. Having heard how popular the race was I made travel arrangements 9 months in advance. Needed a race in North Dakota for my 47th state. Very well organized packet pickup, but not that many exhibitors present. There is a big crowd, so don’t wait until the last minute on race morning. It will take a while to get to the Fargodome parking. Start in the Fargodome was awesome, as it was a pretty miserable weather day. Low 40’s, rain and wind. Can’t do anything about the weather. Flat course, well marked and monitored and plenty of spectators out, in spite of the weather. Finish in the Fargodome was awesome – let you get out of the elements. Cool medal with Hebrews 12:1 inscribed on the back. Race swag was a very nice, hooded long sleeve jersey. Would recommend for anyone who needs a race in North Dakota.

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    usamhall FIRST-TIMER '19

    I did this race the week after Brookings so my legs were tired and I almost didn't come. But the race really was talked highly of by my Maniac brothers … MORE

    I did this race the week after Brookings so my legs were tired and I almost didn’t come. But the race really was talked highly of by my Maniac brothers and sisters. The atmosphere was electric with so many clubs present. We teased and joked our way through 26.2 miles of beautiful neighborhoods. We even crossed over into Minnesoto. The one problem I had other than my legs being tired was the wind from between the buildings downtown. But you can’t ask the RD to control the weather. So even with lots of rain and some wind I had a great time. I am glad I drove the 12 hours to get there.

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    SlowJuan FIRST-TIMER '19

    Fargo is the place to go far! There's a reason why this race consistently gets rave reviews. Maybe it's receiving a race hoodie instead of a T-shirt or the finisher's … MORE

    Fargo is the place to go far! There’s a reason why this race consistently gets rave reviews. Maybe it’s receiving a race hoodie instead of a T-shirt or the finisher’s medal that doubles as a trivet. (Yeah….it’s big.) Perhaps it’s the generous 7-hr cut-off time, much appreciated by those of us who are velocity-challenged. Maybe it’s the warm, friendly confines of the Fargodome, protecting runners from the elements both before and after their race or its Expo-in-the-round on the concourse. The 2019 race had rain, 20-25 mph wind and temperatures only reaching a high of 46 degrees (good day, eh?!?), so the Fargodome was a welcomed safe haven. The course is flat and fast, mostly through immaculately tidy neighborhoods. The event is extremely well organized. The marathon, 1/2 marathon and 10K courses intertwine and double-back on each other, so there are occasional stretches where it’s like running through a convoluted M.C. Escher painting; difficult to tell who’s ahead or behind you or even in the same race. The volunteers were amazing; enthusiastically manning their posts, dispensing race fluids and slinging GU in the wind and rain.
    Two personal highlights for Slow Juan: The Elvis impersonator at Mile 25.5 encouraging me to finish with his rousing performance of, “It’s Now or Never!” And sharing a post-race debriefing session with Mike Sohaskey (RaceRaves) and his lovely wife Katie at Drekker Brewing over a celebratory Broken Rudder red ale. Be sure to check out Drekker’s “Brew-halla” at 1666 1st Street or catch a post-race beer and a slice of Spicy Pie Pizza at Flatland Brewing. Can’t go wrong either way. So, should you plan on running Fargo next year? Ja, don’t be a hoser, don’cha know. Take off, eh?

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    M_Sohaskey May 22, 2019 at 1:23pm

    That's pretty much how I remember it! Though I could swear those winds out there were closer to 70-75 mph 😉. Congrats to the Slow Juan Express on notching yet… MORE

    That's pretty much how I remember it! Though I could swear those winds out there were closer to 70-75 mph 😉. Congrats to the Slow Juan Express on notching yet another state, and thanks for the post-race pain management session at Drekker, that was high on our list of weekend highlights as well. Hope to see you in Tulsa in November, if not earlier — we've gotta keep meeting like this! 🦉 LESS

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    kaylabilladeau REPEAT RUNNER '19

    This will always be one of my favorite races, however this years weather was something to toughen you up! This was my 2nd half this year, and tougher since I … MORE

    This will always be one of my favorite races, however this years weather was something to toughen you up! This was my 2nd half this year, and tougher since I am 14 weeks pregnant. It was still a positive experience, and even though it was raining, the support on the course was great. Flat with a few underpasses to go under.
    The only downfall that I had for this years race was that part way through the course, the half and full “swapped” sides of the course, and this wasn’t well signed. The rest of the course was, but it was a bit frustrating for the lead marathoner to have to run through the cups from the half marathon.

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    peacockrunner FIRST-TIMER '19

    The start and finish at the Fargodome was awesome! No waiting outside in the cold or rain and it just set the tone for a great day. The swag is … MORE

    The start and finish at the Fargodome was awesome! No waiting outside in the cold or rain and it just set the tone for a great day. The swag is some of the best I have ever received from any race. It was incredible to see the entire city come together to support the race, from the spectators to the volunteers…everyone contributed to an overall great experience!
    I love getting race videos with the photos!

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    runvirginia FIRST-TIMER '19

    I echo the comments by the other reviewers. I just wanted to give additional credit to the 5:25 pacer and compliment his getting us through the race without having to … MORE

    I echo the comments by the other reviewers. I just wanted to give additional credit to the 5:25 pacer and compliment his getting us through the race without having to think as much as usual 🙂

    I also want to compliment the showers in the FargoDome, and the well-organized dome floor–bag drop was in the exact same location 5:25 later–and we could scope out the finish line at the start (which, blessedly, was warm and dry).

    I liked the size of the race–I was never alone, and there were plentiful water cups at all the stations. I liked the neighborhoods, and the residents, who played music for us and gave us jolly ranchers. I agree with those who comment on the many turns of the course, but I like the mental variety–where are we going? what’s around the bend? I like the fact that the halfers started a little after the full–less getting psyched out by their pace (again. shout out to the pacer for curbing my enthusiasm).

    44 and drizzling turns out to be pretty good running weather in that it is cooler and overcast. I was thankful that it stopped and I dried out after an hour or two (except the feet).

    I liked the medal– colorful and solid; I personally hate string bags because the strings get caught on everything, but this was clearly a high-end string bag this year, and the bag drop was seamless. I liked that the shirt was a sweatshirt–I have enough tech Ts.

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    dsbland FIRST-TIMER '19

    The weather in Fargo on race morning was about 44 degrees with constant rain and a wind that blew anywhere from 15 to 25 mph and yet this was one … MORE

    The weather in Fargo on race morning was about 44 degrees with constant rain and a wind that blew anywhere from 15 to 25 mph and yet this was one of my favorites. The reputation of Fargo being full of exceptionally nice and polite people is well earned even though they have a wood chipper on display at the visitor center. Getting here is surprisingly easy, I rented a car at the airport and was glad to have it for getting around the city (which is also very easy).
    The expo was small as to be expected for a race this size, but the people were so friendly I could have spent all day just chatting. The race swag bag is the best I have ever received. Very well constructed and plenty large, it will get a lot of use in my family. A hooded sweatshirt instead of the typical technical tee was a nice touch as well.
    With a rainy race day, the start inside the FargoDome was a blessing of the highest order. Speaking of blessings, we actually had a marriage before the start of the race, definitely a first for me. And the bride and groom were serenaded by Elvis after the ceremony. You really had to be there for any of that to make sense. Basically it all means these race directors were on the ball and the race management was amazing.
    The race itself can be summed in one word: Flat. Also cold, wet and windy but honestly once you’re out in those elements you adjust, it wasn’t that big of an issue for me. But, when they say the course is flat, it literally felt like running on a treadmill for long stretches. Not an issue but when you did hit a little up or downhill you definitely felt the muscles tighten up.
    I can’t say enough about how many people were out in the neighborhoods cheering us on and all the volunteers who never missed a beat controlling traffic or giving out fluids. In that kind of weather, the support was amazing, truly a credit to this race. The course was mostly residential which would have gotten boring if not for all the neighbors out cheering on the runners.
    The end of the race is back at the FargoDome with the race announcer calling out your name and people in the stands cheering. I’m not a big eater after a marathon so I can’t really speak to what the post race spread was like. I got my chocolate milk (my post race fave) and a banana and found a chair.
    My review would not be complete without mentioning meeting Mike and Katie at the end of the race, very exciting to put a face and a smile to those names. I will be sporting my RaceRaves hat at future events and keep my eye out for others as well!
    In summary, Fargo was fantastic. I ran it because I’m doing the 50 states but I would recommend this to everyone, regardless of what your ultimate goals are. This was a race that exemplified why we spend our money and go to these events, I loved it.

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    M_Sohaskey May 22, 2019 at 1:20pm

    Beautifully said Scott, I couldn't agree more. You summed up the whole day perfectly, and being able to stick around afterward in a dry dome and meet you at the… MORE

    Beautifully said Scott, I couldn't agree more. You summed up the whole day perfectly, and being able to stick around afterward in a dry dome and meet you at the finish was the icing on the cake. We also paid a visit to the wood chipper, that was a fun surprise since we didn't know it lived there at the visitors center. Congrats on notching another state, and thanks for your thoughtful review... hope the hat comes in handy and that we meet at another start or finish line soon! LESS

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    erbVanZan FIRST-TIMER '17

    It wasn’t an exciting course, but for some reason I enjoyed it. Not much to do in Fargo, but I was able to concentrate on the race. The organization was … MORE

    It wasn’t an exciting course, but for some reason I enjoyed it. Not much to do in Fargo, but I was able to concentrate on the race. The organization was superb!!! The swag bag was awesome!

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    amyeliz70 REPEAT RUNNER '18

    Great swag, organized, nice expo, friendly great crowd support. Run some event here every year. I like the challenge, Friday night 5k in Addition to a Saturday event. MORE

    Great swag, organized, nice expo, friendly great crowd support. Run some event here every year. I like the challenge, Friday night 5k in Addition to a Saturday event.

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    katherine.nelson15 REPEAT RUNNER '18

    I've participated in the Fargo Marathon (both half and full marathon) several years now and I always love coming back! The course is nice and flat, good scenery, good crowds … MORE

    I’ve participated in the Fargo Marathon (both half and full marathon) several years now and I always love coming back! The course is nice and flat, good scenery, good crowds and signs and plenty of good snacks at the end! Also very nice to start and finish inside.

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    bgruenberg FIRST-TIMER '16

    The Fargo Marathon events are so well organized and always run smoothly! I love all of the support and entertainment that is spread throughout the race course! I will definitely … MORE

    The Fargo Marathon events are so well organized and always run smoothly! I love all of the support and entertainment that is spread throughout the race course! I will definitely do this race again in the future!

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    Trace REPEAT RUNNER '18

    have run the 10K, 1/2 marathon, and the 4 person relay,, all fun to run, the course is full of senery and is a pretty flat course, so not too … MORE

    have run the 10K, 1/2 marathon, and the 4 person relay,, all fun to run, the course is full of senery and is a pretty flat course, so not too hard. The pre and post race events are worth the run, although after being involved with this event, I have enough bags,,, would be nice to shake it up a bit on the swag,,

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    jschulz2789 REPEAT RUNNER '18

    Fun and flat! This was my first marathon and would like to continue to run this each year. The course is well marked, offers the best route possible in the … MORE

    Fun and flat! This was my first marathon and would like to continue to run this each year. The course is well marked, offers the best route possible in the fargo moorhead area. No hills!!!

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    ehperry8 FIRST-TIMER '18

    Flat course. Not many spectators. Love that the race starts inside. Plenty of restrooms. Awesome finishers medal with Bible Verse on the back. MORE

    Flat course. Not many spectators. Love that the race starts inside. Plenty of restrooms. Awesome finishers medal with Bible
    Verse on the back.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    1
    SWAG
    3

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