FARGO — The Sanford Fargo Marathon has been postponed from spring until late summer due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The annual event has been moved from May 9 to Aug. 29, executive director Mark Knutson announced Monday morning, March 16, on Dom Izzo’s "Hot Mic" radio show on WDAY 970-AM.

“We have to do our part,” Knutson said. “We have to be responsible.”

On Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended no gatherings with 50 people or more take place for the next eight weeks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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Knutson said about 9,500 participants had already registered for the 16th annual Fargo Marathon. The event’s races had 17,800 participants last May.

“The biggest challenge is going to be participants who can’t run it in August,” Knutson said. “We have to work with those people on a viable option.”

Knutson said deferring to compete in next year’s Fargo Marathon, or having participants virtually run the race are among the options.

A refund is another possibility.

“We have to work through that one carefully because we do have a lot of cost that is incurred already,” Knutson said of refunds. “Hopefully there is something reasonable we can do for people.”

Knutson said the plan is to continue with the same race week in August, including the cyclothon, the dog race, the youth run and 5K, leading up to Saturday’s 10K, half-marathon and full marathon.

He added the hope would be to have the race headquartered in the Fargodome, but that isn’t a certainty.

“We are working with the Fargodome right now,” Knutson said. “They can’t guarantee that the dome is going to be available that weekend. If it is, great, if it’s not we’ll come up with a really good alternative.”

Knutson said he would have hoped to move the event to September or October, but that wasn’t a viable option, with multiple other running events around the region (Detroit Lakes, Minn., Grand Forks, Bismarck and Twin Cities) already scheduled during those months. North Dakota State football also limited the amount of weekends the Fargodome would be available.

“That’s the date we’ve chosen based on a number of factors,” Knutson said. “We would have loved to have done something in September or October.”

Weather-wise, Knutson said by late August morning temperatures in general have started to cool. If it is a warmer day, runners should be more used to the heat that time of year.

“People have all summer to train. Their body gets acclimated to the heat,” Knutson said. “If you have a warm Fargo Marathon day in May, people struggle because they haven’t gotten used to the heat yet. … By the end of August, a nice, crisp cool late August morning, people will probably have a really good race.”

Knutson said entrants are 15% ahead of last year’s pace at the time the event was postponed.

“We were pretty excited about the year in general,” Knutson said. “I’m hopeful that this doesn’t deter that. Maybe this would improve our numbers. Maybe people will like the idea of being able to run it later in the year.”

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