Marathon notebook: Weather forecast looks perfect for Saturday

Cool temperatures are expected to greet Fargo Marathon runners in the morning but there will be very little humidity and wind throughout day.

Fargo Marathon runners
Fargo Marathon runners toward the back of the pack should enjoy low humidity and winds on Saturday.
Forum file photo

FARGO — There have been Essentia Fargo Marathon weather forecasts that have not been kind to participants preparing for a Saturday of running. And then there is the outlook for the 19th annual event on Saturday.

The thousands of runners and walkers may have hit the jackpot in that regard.

“I would say this is perfect,” said John Wheeler, chief meteorologist at WDAY-TV.

Perfect for runners navigating the 26.2-mile course can be described like this: It will be a cool but sunny morning with temperatures around 40 at the start of the marathon, half-marathon and 10K.

“It looks like good weather for the elite marathoners,” Wheeler said.


The sun will warm things up to around 50 by 8 a.m. and the upper 50s to around 60 by 10 a.m. It’s expected to be around the mid-60s by noon on the way to a high around 70 in the afternoon. The good news for the runners still on the course is humidity is not expected to be a factor.

“None, very dry,” Wheeler said.

Winds are expected to be light out of the southwest, under 10 mph, which should help runners in the last half since most of that route heads north.

“For the inexperienced runners, you’ll be a little bit chilly at the starting line because you have to stand out there in the cold,” Wheeler said.

A general rule of thumb: bring a long sleeve layer you can shed either at the starting line or somewhere out on the course, preferably not much more than a mile or two into the race. There will be very little need to wear much in the line of cold-weather gear.

The poor air quality from forest fires in Canada that inundated the region on Thursday will have moved out by Friday along with the weather system that brought a cool and windy day.

Arizona runner threat to break women’s marathon record

There have been modifications over the years, but the Fargo Marathon course remains mainly flat and with temperatures looking promising, the possibility is there for an elite runner to challenge the course records.

Chris Erichsen from St. Paul still holds the men’s mark with his 2:19.55 in 2010. The temperature that day was in the upper 50s although winds were somewhat of a factor.


Former Fargo South standout Semehar Tesfaye holds the women’s record of 2:37.27 set in 2016. The major threat to that could be Lindsay Nelson from Flagstaff, Ariz., who registered a 2:39.33 at The Marathon Project in Chandler, Ariz.

“If the conditions are good and it stays cool enough in the morning, I think we’ll have some really fast times,” said Mark Knutson, executive director of the marathon.

Nelson, 34 years old, is certainly a favorite to watch in the women’s division. She finished 81st in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials in the marathon in Atlanta with a 2:42.46.

There was a time when the marathon made good use of the bike paths along the Red River, but that no longer is the case because of the unreliability of flooding. The possibility exists, however, of taking advantage of Moorhead finishing its trail system from the northside of the city all the way south to Bluestem.

“Maybe that will be a good part of the race, we’ll see,” Knutson said.

New sport, same success for former Bison Brett Winkelman

Former North Dakota State basketball standout Brett Winkelman was a solid 220-pound power forward when he helped the Bison reach their first NCAA tournament in 2009. Winkelman, from Fargo, is still competing, but it’s more about speed these days.

He finished third on Monday in the 26.2-mile Cyclothon that started the Fargo Marathon week. His time of 1:09.28 was behind winner Sean Tostenson of West Fargo, who clocked a 1:04.59, and second place Simon Murphy from Grand Forks, who had a 1:07.04.

Winkelman has turned his attention to triathlons in recent years, completing the Ironman Arizona in 11 hours, 13 minutes, 3 seconds. That’s the real world of racing with a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile marathon.


Winkelman took 20th in 2021 in the Square Lake 70.3 cumulative-mile triathlon in Stillwater, Minn., that consisted of a half-mile swim, a 56-mile bike and half-marathon.

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.
What To Read Next
Get Local