FARGO — For runners navigating the 26.2 miles of the Sanford Fargo Marathon on Saturday, finding their way around Fargo and Moorhead will be no problem. Unless they’re one of the elites leading the race, they can either follow the person in front of them or pay attention to the many signs pointing the way along the route.
As for the fans looking to watch runners on the course, pay attention: this is not the year to plan for multiple locations.
Road construction and the adjustment of the course due to the spring flood will make driving near the course potentially hazardous to your mental health. Especially in the downtown areas of the marathon and half-marathon course.
“This year will require everybody to have a lot of patience in the downtown area, morso than in years past because everybody wants to occupy the same road spaces,” said Fargo Police officer David Boe, a veteran member of the marathon committee. “The big thing is patience.”
The best way to follow a runner is by bicycle, although possible rain in the forecast could even make that a challenge.
The marathon and marathon relay begin at 7 a.m., the half-marathon at 7:15 and the 10K at 7:30 — all from the Fargodome. All roads north of 19th Avenue North should be back in operation by around 9 a.m. The roads in Moorhead impacted by the marathon should be clear by around noon. South Fargo should clear out by early afternoon.
Downtown to the Fargodome, however, will be a different story.
“Impacted all day,” Boe said.
Bike paths along the Red River that were used last year for the races were not able to be cleared in time because of the flood. Add to that road construction on Main Avenue in Fargo from the Veterans Memorial Bridge to Broadway and the closure of the NP Avenue Bridge because of road construction in Moorhead and congestion could border on dangerous.
“Take a good, hard look at the route, compare what you know with the road construction and pick a couple of key areas,” Boe said of fans wanting to watch runners.
As usual, if you live along the route, be prepared.
“It’s one of those years where maybe you stay home for a couple of hours,” Boe said. “For those of you who go to work early, leave earlier than normal. If you go out shopping, leave a bit later than normal. Let us get things buttoned down and get a few things opened up. Everybody has to exercise more patience.”
It’s made for one of the biggest traffic challenges in Boe’s years on the marathon committee. The last time a flood impacted the course of this magnitude was in 2009.
“A massive flood, we scratched our heads a bit and decided on a double loop,” Boe said. “It worked extremely well, better than we all thought it would. This year we were hoping the water would drop quick enough to get road and bike paths usable again.”