At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, the Fargo Marathon in North Dakota was postponed, moving from its original dates in May to August. In the last month, restrictions have eased across the U.S., and on June 18, race organizers released a statement announcing that their event would go ahead as planned later this summer. This will likely make it the first marathon held in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic. The announcement said the decision was “not made lightly” and that organizers will continue to check in on the COVID-19 situation in North Dakota as the race date approaches. The events are set for August 24 to 29.
Fargo Marathon week
The Fargo Marathon is not just a race weekend, but an entire race week. The lineup of events starts on Monday, August 24 with the Cyclothon, which gives riders the chance to ride 24K or the full 42K of the marathon course. The following day is the FurGo Dog Run, which follows a short 1.5-mile course for any dog owners in the area. On Thursday, August 27, there is a kids run, and the following night there’s a 5K. Saturday morning is the big race day, with a 10K, a half-marathon and the full Fargo Marathon. In 2019, the events saw a combined total of well over 10,000 participants across the week of racing.
“Low risk” state
In late May, Doug Burgum, governor of North Dakota, declared the state to be at low risk for COVID-19, as reported by KX News. The race announcement said organizers have accepted guidance from the mayor of Fargo and local public health officials to help them prepare for a safe event.
“The health and safety of our runners is our top priority, so we are continuing to closely monitor the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Fargo Marathon race director Mark Knutson. “Our title sponsor, Sanford Health, will also be working with us every step of the way to ensure a safe environment for our runners come August.”
As far as COVID-19 goes, North Dakota ranks low among all U.S. states, coming in at 44th with just over 3,200 reported cases. If the race does in fact go ahead as planned, race directors across North America will surely be watching closely to see how to run an event in COVID-19, especially here in Canada, where it seems like mass gatherings of thousands of people are still a long way away.