Two new knees has Essentia paramedic grateful to be able to run Fargo 5K

Patrick Patterson's legs hurt to the point that getting through each day without pain wasn't an option.

Patrick Patterson.jpg
Essentia Health paramedic Patrick Patterson will be running the Fargo 5K after undergoing double knee replacement surgery.
Submitted photo

FARGO — The first 5K race for Patrick Patterson a few years ago didn’t go so well, with his knees failing to the point that he literally had to crawl across the finish line. It was at an event put on by the Hawley Emergency Response Team in Hawley, Minn.

The fact Patterson had to be told to inch his way a little further to get a 5K time wasn’t exactly an emergency, but the reality of bad knees was starting to hit home. He had his right knee replaced by Dr. Roxanne Keene at Essentia Health in Fargo in August of 2021. Nine months later, he ran his first Fargo 5K.

His left knee was replaced in July of 2022.

Later this week, Patterson will be running the Friday Night 5K as part of the Essentia Health Fargo Marathon weekend with two new knees, a testament to the advancements in medical technology.

“It is amazing,” Patterson said.


A community paramedic for Essentia Health, Patterson’s knees took issue with his quality of life, with pain being part of every day, especially as the day wore on. Cartilage in his knees was so worn away that it left him with bone-on-bone osteoarthritis.

He remembered his late father having knee issues that prevented him from being active. Patterson, 54 years old with two grandchildren under the age of 4, didn’t want to live like that.

“I watched him struggling,” he said. “I’m like, you know, my knees are at a point in my 50s where they’re willing to replace them. I’m going to do them when I’m younger, just the healing will be better at a younger age. I don’t want to sit on a deck and watch them play. I want to play in the yard with them.”

As for that race in Hawley, it was memorable in more than one way. Patterson and his original knees were running it with his wife Susan, with Patrick telling her to go ahead since he wasn’t very fleet of foot.

She opted to run with him, but when they neared the finish line, Patrick picked up his pace, slowed down and Susan ran by him.

“By this time my knees were spent,” Patrick said. “I tried to catch her but both of them just gave out.”

He fell, and ended up tripping his wife in the process.

“We were both lying there on the ground, kind of laughing but it hurt,” Patrick said. “(The timer) leaned down and said you guys have to get across the line before I can count your time. So we crawled across the line.”


That’s not going to happen Friday, with the race starting and ending at the Fargodome.

“That’s kind of where it started, I’m like, OK, I need to do something with my knees,” Patrick said.

Recovery for each knee takes about nine months to one year.

Organizers are hoping for at least 3,000 registrations, with healthcare companies Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota and Noridian Healthcare Solutions putting out a challenge call to people. Registrations will remain open until at least Thursday night at the Fargo Marathon website depending on if the cap number is hit.

“My goal is just to make sure I finish,” Patrick said. “I can guarantee I’m not going to have the fastest time but just want to make sure I finish. I don’t want to finish last but if I do that’s OK too, I guess. I’m not one to do a 5K every year but I told my doctors I’m going to be one of your star patients.”

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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