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Published July 11, 2013, 11:55 PM

Go Far Woman to hold women’s-only race

FARGO – While registering runners for last year’s Fargo Marathon 5K, Sue Knutson noticed a woman waiting patiently to speak to her.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

FARGO – While registering runners for last year’s Fargo Marathon 5K, Sue Knutson noticed a woman waiting patiently to speak to her.

When she finally had her chance, the woman told the Go Far Woman director that Sue’s sister had helped deliver her twins.

Dr. Renee Schwandt, who worked as an OB-GYN at Essentia Health in Fargo, died in 2003 at age 38.

“It’d been nine years since Renee passed away, but somebody was so touched by her that she would wait to talk to me about it,” Sue says.

In addition to her full-time job, Renee traveled to Haiti and Jamaica to provide medical services to women in need.

While in Jamaica, she raised the cash needed to buy a pair of shoes for a local woman, and when she found out she didn’t have socks, either, she took off her own.

“It was like, ‘I’ll literally take the clothes off my back for you, even though I don’t know you.’ But that’s the kind of person she was,” Sue says.

Now she’s honoring the giving nature of her sister by giving back to the community she worked in.

“I’ve always wanted to do something in her name,” she says.

Go Far Woman has teamed up with Essentia Health to hold the area’s first women’s-only race next month in Fargo.

Part of the proceeds will go to the Essentia neonatal intensive care unit, where some of the babies Renee delivered received care.

“We visited the unit, and they have pictures of some of the children that were in NICU and they list who the physician was, and some of them were my sister,” Sue says.

Women of all ages and abilities are encouraged to join the Go Far Woman race, and strollers are welcome.

“It’s empowering for women to be able to participate regardless of whether you’re a super-duper athlete or you’re someone who just enjoys walking,” Sue says.

As of this week, 800 had signed up. Sue hopes to have close to 2,000 by race day.

‘A good challenge’

A TV ad for the Aug. 24 race featuring WDAY-TV personalities Robin Huebner and Kerstin Kealy inspired a 50-year-old Detroit Lakes, Minn., woman to take up running again.

Patty Nelson had been thinking about it but hadn’t ran since college.

“Then when I saw that commercial, I thought it’d be a good challenge,” she says.

Patty decided to recruit her daughter, four sisters and six nieces to join her.

Each has her own goal for the race. Some will be walking; some will be running.

“We’ll all be supporting each other and hoping that we meet up at the finish line,” she says.

Each race (a 5K, half marathon and two-person half marathon relay) starts and finishes at West Acres mall in Fargo.

Acappella Xpress, an all-women’s show choir, will kick off the races with a live performance.

Race “swag” is more catered to women – women’s Nike finisher’s shirts and medals with removable pendants.

Men will play the supporting roles in the event with “A Few Good Men” aid stations.

Local firefighters, bodybuilders, MSUM athletes and “average Joes” are volunteering their time to give participants water and cheer them on along the way.

Patty and her family members plan to do a little shopping and eating together at the mall afterward.

“I really hope that it becomes an annual thing for us and that we continue to do it throughout the years,” she says.

Sue says her sister Renee was competitive but modest and might not want the recognition.

However, she says, “I think she’d like to know that we’re helping people in her name and that her legacy is still living on.”

If you go

What: Go Far Woman 5K Walk/Run & Half Marathon

When: 7 a.m. Aug. 24

Where: West Acres mall, Fargo

Cost: Registration costs $35 for the 5K, $60 for the half marathon and $85 for the two-person half marathon relay. Prices go up Aug. 10, and registration closes Aug. 18. Register online at www.gofarwoman.com.

Info: Volunteers are still needed and can sign up online.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590