Fargo Marathon: Legacy runner shares tips for first-timers

Sanford Health provider will run her 15th Fargo half marathon this year

Runners crossing the Fargo Marathon finish line

Christine Brandt, a physician assistant at Sanford Health, is getting ready for this year’s Sanford Fargo Marathon.

The 15th annual race is Saturday, May 18 — which also marks Brandt’s 15th year participating. She has run the half marathon every year since the Fargo Marathon began in 2004, which qualifies her as a legacy runner.

Celebrating their 15th marathon anniversary

“Honestly, I signed up on a whim the week of the race the first year,” Brandt said.

It wasn’t something she was planning to do. Brandt had done a 5K and a 10K prior to running her first half. At the time, she was teaching four to five cardio classes per week at the YMCA, so she wasn’t out of shape by any means. However, she said a little more training would have helped.

“I just didn’t want to miss out on the first Fargo marathon,” she said.

Since her first race, she has felt a connection with the Fargo Marathon.

“I have never considered not running the Fargo Half, even if I’m 80 and shuffling,” Brandt said.

How to keep running multiple marathons

Every year, her motivation is different.

“In past years, I was motivated to beat my best time,” she said. “Some years I’m motivated by the charity I’m running for.”

Brandt has run the majority of her races as a charity runner for various non-profits including the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Imagine Thriving and Pink It Forward.

This past year, Brandt qualified to be a Marathon Maniac as well as a Half Fanatic. Now a dual agent, she feels extra motivated to run this year.

To qualify as a Marathon Maniac and Half Fanatic, a runner must run three marathons in 90 days or two within 16 days.

Brandt has run in many marathon events since her very first in Fargo including the NYC Marathon, Chicago Marathon and Twin Cities Marathon; Grandma’s Half Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota; Glacier Half Marathon in Glacier National Park in Montana; Ragnar Races and many more.

What to love about the Fargo Marathon

“For me, I love that the Fargo Marathon is right in our backyards,” Brandt said.

She also likes that the Fargo Marathon is logistically easy.

“You can sleep in your own bed on race night, have a relaxing breakfast in your home, drive to the Dome, visit with your friends at the start line and see people you know along the course,” Brandt said. “We have a home field advantage which makes for a more relaxing day.”

Brandt also appreciates the flat course in Fargo which correlates to being faster than other courses.

“I always laugh when I hear a runner next to me complain about a ‘hill’ in Fargo as we run back up the underpass,” she said.

She loves the way the city comes alive when Fargo hosts the marathon and enjoys visiting with runners who are in Fargo for the first time.

Tips from a legacy runner:

  • Sign up. “If even the smallest part of you is thinking about doing a race, then do it,” she said. “You’ll never regret it.”
  • Work your way up. Brandt recommends starting with a shorter distance race like the 5K or 10K. It can be intimidating to start with the half or full. Starting with a shorter race will help runners ease into it.
  • Consistency is key. Get a training plan and try to be consistent, even if you have to slow down or walk sometimes. “Slow or fast, a mile is still a mile,” Brandt said. “The race should be a celebration of your training.”
  • Race day is not for experiments. Don’t try anything new on race day. This includes shoes, clothing and food. Brandt recommends running in what you plan to wear for race day for at least a couple training runs. Eat the same food for breakfast that you do on your long training runs. She also says it’s important to try the food and drinks provided on the course in advance. “I usually carry Cliff Bloks in my running belt,” she said. “You’ll see a lot of people on the course handing out jolly ranchers, licorice, oranges, bananas and sometimes beer. These can give you quick energy, but again, try them on a training run first.” Brandt also strongly recommends avoiding beer until crossing the finish line.
  • Bring your ID. Runners 21 and older get a free beer when crossing the finish line, so bring your ID.
  • Participate in the fun. “Cheer on fellow runners, high-five spectators, dance to the live bands, repeat a mantra, count how many times you hear ‘You’re almost there’ and have fun,” Brandt said. “If you put your name on your bib or shirt, spectators and other runners will cheer you on by name!”
  • Say thank you. Although you will probably be short on breath and energy, Brandt encourages runners to thank the volunteers at water stops and street crossings.
  • Smile at the finish line. “You’re on several cameras and videos,” she said. “You will never forget crossing a finish line for your first race.”
  • Celebrate. “Celebrate your accomplishment and wear your medal ALL DAY LONG!”

Train with others

“As the saying goes, misery loves company,” Brandt said. “Some people like to talk on long runs which can help get through tough miles.”

In the past, Brandt has run with groups of friends as well as business groups including Beyond Running, Faster Stronger Runner and Fargo Running Company. She says the groups offer useful tips on hydration to prevent cramping, fueling methods, ways to prevent chafing and appropriate clothing for the weather.

Brandt recommends these Fargo-area running groups:

  • Beyond Running: Free group runs at 6:30 p..m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 8:30 a.m. Saturday at their downtown store. “Sometimes they run from their West Fargo store on Saturdays and serve post-run pancakes,” Brandt said. Runners can join their Facebook group, “Beyond Running Connect to Run.”
  • Faster Stronger Runner: They offer a $55 training plan, 7 a.m. Saturday group runs, weekly training topics for education, a weekly newsletter, trainers that check on you during your long run, technical t-shirt, and a group picture on race day. Join their Facebook group, “Faster. Stronger. Runner. Training Group.”
  • Fargo Running Company: Free group runs at 6 p.m. Mondays, 5:30 a.m. Thursdays each week, and 7 a.m. Saturdays once a month starting at their store. “You can log your miles at the store for these group runs to win prizes at the end of the year,” Brandt said. They also offer an organized training program for $99. Follow their store page on Facebook for more info.

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Posted In Faces of Sanford Health, Fargo, Health Care Heroes, Healthy Living, Running

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