Nearly 2,000 Tackle Hill in Bismarck Marathon | VideoJoel Porter | 9/15/2012
No easy task.
For the second year in a row, race directors opted to keep the U-Mary hill as part of the course. However, one thing was in the runners` favor, the weather.
Before sunrise, Cottonwood Park was swarming with cars and trucks as runners were rushing to the starting line.
"It`ll be a perfect morning for running," Bismarck runner Jody Davison said.
After a little light stretching, a good luck kiss or two and maybe a picture, Bismarck marathon runners were set to tackle one big obstacle.
"A little bit. I haven`t run the U-Mary hill, so I`m a little nervous," Davison admitted.
"It`s not easy, because I`m not an early morning runner. More like an afternoon, evening runner. But you do what you have to do," Bismarck runner Mike Bolme said.
This year`s run attracted a few more runners in nearly every category.
"This year, I think we topped out at 1,853. Our goal`s always to be somewhere around 1,900 to 2,000" race co-director Lynn Beiswanger said.
For the second year in a row, Beiswanger says they decided to keep the hill as part of the route, one of the only races in the state with such an incline.
"People are impressed. By the time they get done, they can`t believe their times are either faster or they haven`t lost any time by incorporating the hill. So it becomes a personal challenge. It`s more mental than anything."
"That was the easy part. Coming down was the hard part," half marathon runner Jared Barbot said. Barbot made the trip from Bottineau.
And some runners had plenty of motivation, thanks to Bruce Carlson and his family, who traveled down from Velva.
"Our daughter`s not an avid runner, but she enjoys it and she said, `You be on that hill and help me get to the top.` So the runners truly do appreciate it," Carlson said.
Beiswanger says despite the pleasant conditions, he wasn`t expecting any record breaking performances, but says in 31 years of the race, the crowd and the volunteers have grown every September.
"You can`t do this without volunteers and I think we have about 250 volunteers."
"Gatorade on the first stop there and water on this one. Plenty of takers," Kevin Nissen said. Nissen was serving water at the race with other staff from Mile One Running Shop in Minot.
A quick refresher at mile nine and a reward for climbing up and down the hill. For some, twice.
"You look around and they`re just enjoying the day. They`re enjoying the moment, it`s not about where they finish, they`re just enjoying everything about it," Beiswanger said.
At the home stretch, medals were doled out as runners caught their breaths.
"Exact same time as last year," Barbot said.
A little bit of Finnish pride to guarantee a strong finish for nearly 2,000 running strong in Bismarck.
Chad Wallin of Minot won the marathon, finishing in 2 hours, 43 min. and 33 seconds.
Kyle Downs of Bisamrck was the top finisher in the half marathon with a time of 1 hour, 12 min. and 16 seconds.