Game-time decision for St. Paul runner whether to give Fargo Marathon title a shot

Danny Docherty competed in the 2020 Olympic Trials and plans on competing in the '24 Trials

Danny Docherty, right, of St. Paul, Minn., has one of the top times heading into the Essentia Fargo Marathon on Saturday.
Photo courtesy of Tim Sullivan

FARGO — Danny Docherty isn’t going into the Essentia Fargo Marathon with his No. 1 goal to win it. He’s not ruling out the thought, either.

It will depend on how the St. Paul resident feels over the course of 26.2 miles on Saturday morning.

“You never know how your legs will feel on race day until you get out there,” Docherty said. “It will be kind of a game-time decision. I’ve had some tightness in my legs so I’m just not sure, but I am leaning towards more of a moderate effort and maybe pick it up in the second half.”

His primary reason for running Fargo starts with his running group, El Jefa club out of the Twin Cities. A pretty big contingent is making the trip, with Docherty combining that with the last big training run before Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn., in June.

Docherty carries the apparent top qualifying time into this year’s Fargo after clocking 2 hours, 17 minutes, 7 seconds at last year’s Grandmas. Alexander Cushman ran a 2:25.55 at the Madison Marathon and Adam Pangrac, a Moorhead resident, a 2:28.00 at Grandmas.


Considering the fluid and unexpected nature of a 26.2-mile race, those two are certainly in the conversation.

Docherty’s PR is 2:15.55 at the 2019 Twin Cities Marathon. The hope is to get into the 2:14s on a really good day, which is a much higher level than how he fared collegiately at Loyola University in Chicago. His ascension came afterward, mainly with Team USA Minnesota, where he qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials in Atlanta.

Count the 33-year-old Docherty as one of many runners who have gotten better with age.

“Yeah, I definitely have,” he said. “I had a good college career but I went through a lot of injuries so I felt like I was healthy for only about half my time at Loyola. When you don’t hit all of your goals in college, it gives you more motivation after college to keep going after it.”

The Atlanta race wasn’t his best day, finishing 88th of 175 finishers at 2:24.07. It didn’t help that he didn’t have a full training cycle after coming off an injury. Based on his qualifying time, he was ranked within the top 50 heading into it.

“I would say it was an average day for me,” Docherty said. “But I wasn’t at peak fitness either, so I was hoping to finish quite a bit higher.

The plan is to give it a better shot in the 2024 Olympic Trials.

The running career is in the genes. His mother, Bev, competed in six straight Olympic Trials marathons from 1984-2004. His father, Jim, ran for the University of Iowa and hit the coveted 4-minute mark in the mile run.


Their three children all ran in college. Danny is a director of operations for a couple of youth baseball and track programs in the Twin Cities and is the program director for Run Minnesota. With that, he trains half-marathon and marathon runners.

“There wasn’t a ton of pressure to become a runner,” he said of growing up in a running family. “They just kind of let it happen naturally and they supported us when we got into the sport. It certainly helped to have them for guidance along the way. It was talked about more at the dinner table when you’re more into it as a high school and college runner, but it changes over time.”

Fargo Marathon route
Fargo Marathon route for 2023

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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