FARGO-It was cold, with a steady north wind accentuating the wind chill as over 7,200 toed the line at the Scheels Fargo Marathon Tailgate 5K Friday night. Laura King Edwards took adversity one step further: She did the 3.1-mile race with a medical boot on her left foot, the result of a stress fracture.
Then again, it’s nothing compared to what her younger sister is going through.
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King Edwards, from Charlotte, N.C., made the Scheels Fargo Marathon event one of her stops in a quest to run a race in all 50 states to support Taylor’s Tale, which honors 16-year-old Taylor King and her fight against Batten’s disease.
“Every race is a different experience, and I’ve never walked a race with a broken foot,” King Edwards said. “Sometimes it’s good to slow things down in the world. When I started this, I never imagined No. 7 would be done with a broken foot.”
North Dakota is King Edwards’ seventh state, so there’s a lot more traveling and a lot more opportunity to raise awareness against the rare but fatal affliction. Taylor’s Tale raises funds for research and public awareness that includes gene therapy study at the University of North Carolina.
“I’ve learned how strong my sister is,” she said. “I’m so hopeful that our efforts can build a better future for all children affected with a rare disease.”
Taylor’s story first surfaced nationally in 2014 when a Runner’s World story told of Taylor running two 5Ks with her “Girls on the Run” team after losing her vision to the disorder. She is now confined to a wheelchair.
“The 5K is special. It’s the distance Taylor ran,” Edwards King said.
She broke her foot in her sixth race, a half-marathon in Charlottesville, Va. She felt something pop at around mile 3, but still found the strength to finish fourth in the race. The plan now is to take it easy this summer, heal the foot and do a half marathon in Hawaii in September.
“I need to heal fast but I want to do that one because Taylor’s always wanted to go to Hawaii,” she said.
Long before King Edwards finished her race, University of Mary (N.D.) senior Chris Jessop won the 5K race with a time of 15 minutes, 50 seconds, which was 11 seconds better than second-place Derek Warner from Long Prairie, Minn. Jessop, from Corvallis, Mont., is redshirting this spring for the Marauders track and field team, and so he decided to run the Fargo 5K.
It was probably meant to be. Before the race, while tying his shoelace near the starting line on the west parking lot of the Fargodome, he got a “good luck” from Olympic marathoner Deena Kastor, who spoke earlier in the day as part of the marathon expo.
“I’m sure she didn’t know I was running for the time I was,” Jessop said. “I met Deena Kastor. Something like that doesn’t come around very often.”
Jessop said the wind was a mild factor throughout the race. He ran with a small pack for the first mile but had the last mile mostly to himself. It was his first career 5K win, although he said he doesn’t roadrace very often, either.
“It’s kind of cool with 8,000 people running,” he said. “You see all shapes and sizes out here. Everybody here is beating everybody who is sitting home on a couch.”
Brittany Brown Otter from Bismarck won the women’s race in 18:24. Casie Coulter of West Fargo took second at 19:58.