Select group of Fargo Marathon 'Charter Club' runners hanging in there after 17 years

A list that started with over 700 in the 2005 inaugural year down to less than 20.

David Thompson, left, has remained as .
David Thompson, left, has remained as one of the few remaining Fargo Marathon Charter Club members. Jeremy Dworshak, right, was a former member.
Forum file photo

FARGO — There was the year Dave Thompson had to run the Essentia Fargo Marathon virtually because the race was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic. So he ran 26.2 miles on his treadmill.

That essentially consisted of two movies and a half of a North Dakota State football game.

“You get used to it,” Thompson said of the treadmill. “Once you get past the midway point, then it’s easy.”

Saturday is the 18th annual Fargo Marathon, an event that started in 2005. There remains a select group of runners, deemed the “Charter Club,” that have done the previous 17. It’s an unofficial list because the pandemic, and holding last year’s event in the fall, created issues like finding official times.

Thompson, who lives in Mapleton, N.D., and works at John Deere in Fargo, figures there are about 13. It could be as many as 18.


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One thing seems certain, the remaining members are hanging in there the best they can. The Charter Club numbered 21 in 2017. It was at 34 after the 2012 event. Probably most impressive is that the inaugural year of the Fargo Marathon in 2005 had just 777 full marathon finishers.

“Here we are 18 years later, pandemic included and to have a percentage (like that) hanging on as Charter Club members, that’s pretty cool,” said Mark Knutson, the marathon’s executive director.

Saturday will be Thompson’s 40th overall marathon, a list that started with the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. when he lived on the East Coast.

“You never think you’re going to do more than one,” Thompson said.

He’s done his necessary training to get ready for this year’s Fargo, doing a long run of 20 miles. Like most programs, he increases his long run by about two miles over the course of several weeks.

The poor winter and spring weather has presented its challenges, but nonetheless he’ll be ready to toe the starting line at the Fargodome at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. The weather so far looks to be cooperating with a high of 58 degrees and low chances of rain showers.

“It’s easy for me, I’m here and I don’t have to travel,” Thompson said. “It’s a one-marathon-a-year kind of thing.”

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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