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Off and running: Grand Forks Wild Hog Marathon returns with new route

When Tim Boyle and Paisley Matthews met at the 2015 Wild Hog Half Marathon in Grand Forks, they made an unexpected running crew. Three years earlier, Boyle, a Fargo resident, had a two-pack-a-day cigarette habit. Paisley had a rare and recently d...

Corn field
Carly Olson, left, walks with her dog Zoe, as her dog leads the way through the Hog Dog Jog in Grand Forks on Thursday. (Joshua Komer/Grand Forks Herald)

When Tim Boyle and Paisley Matthews met at the 2015 Wild Hog Half Marathon in Grand Forks, they made an unexpected running crew.

Three years earlier, Boyle, a Fargo resident, had a two-pack-a-day cigarette habit. Paisley had a rare and recently discovered condition affecting her development. The two were perfect strangers who met for the first time in Grand Forks, where together they completed the 13.1-mile race.

This weekend, Boyle and Paisley, 9, will meet again to race in the Wild Hog, which returns to Grand Forks for the sixth year. This year's event will have a new route and organizers are expecting a strong turnout for the half-marathon. Races began Thursday with a pet-friendly jog and include 5K and 10K races and a half and full marathon.

Paisley Matthews suffers from Emanuel syndrome, a rare disorder that impacts the 11th and 22nd chromosomes and disrupts typical development in children.

With her three other children, Molly Matthews said it's been easy to find activities, but things for Paisley were tough to find.


"This is something just for her," she said.

The Matthews family met Boyle through I Run 4, an organization Boyle launched five years ago when he was looking for motivation to start running. As he tells it, he posted the quote on Facebook, "I run because I can. When I get tired, I remember those who can't run." A friend with a mobility disorder responded, "You can run for me anytime."

There are now more than 43,000 I Run 4 users worldwide. The organization pairs athletes with physically challenged people.

Matthews learned about I Run 4 from a local news story a few years ago and signed up. Paisley's permanent I Run 4 buddy is a man named Mark Thompson, who lives in Pennsylvania. Thompson, who lost a child to a disorder that affected the same chromosomes as Emanuel syndrome, logs each mile he runs on Paisley's behalf. They've never met in person, but connect via messaging or phone on a regular basis.

Matthews said she didn't realize the organization started in the region until Boyle posted in an I Run 4 group in 2015 saying he was doing a race in Grand Forks and was looking for a companion. They signed Paisley up.

"Tim brings the chair, we bring Paisley," Matthews said.

Paisley will be with Boyle the whole race, comfortably seated in his Hoyt Running Chair, a specially designed wheelchair that gives mobility to physically challenged people wishing to participate in competitive races.

"She likes to go fast, she likes the wind in her face," Matthews said


Boyle and Paisley's family have stayed in touch since the 2015 race. Last year, when Paisley had an operation at a Fargo hospital, Tim came to see her.

"It's nice that there's still nice people in the world," Matthews said.

Wild Hog weekend

Wild Hog Marathon weekend kicked off Thursday with a new event, the Hog Dog Jog, a 1.5K pet-friendly route organized by the Grand Forks Circle of Friends Humane Society.

Official Wild Hog activities begin Friday at Choice Health and Fitness at 4401 S. 11th St. from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., when athletes can pick up race packets and procrastinators can register for the races.

Friday evening at 6:30 the family-friendly Alerus 5K begins at Choice. There is also a carb-loading Pasta Party on the Prairie at the Wild Hog tent in front of Choice from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday.

Saturday's marathon begins at 7:15 a.m. from Choice.

The course follows a new path along the Greenway, crosses the river into East Grand Forks near Lincoln Park and crosses the Louis Murray Bridge before it joins the Greenway again at the north-end pedestrian bridge, crosses back into Grand Forks and follows the Greenway and Belmont Road back to Choice.


The half marathon, which along with the 10K begins at 8 a.m., follows the same path, but cuts back into Grand Forks at the Point Bridge on Minnesota Avenue.

"It's going to provide just a little safer route for our runners," Rachel Hellyer, an event organizer, said.

Planners expect to have fewer marathoners and a return to normal numbers of half-marathoners in 2017. Last year was the first to feature a full marathon, which organizers feel attracted some of their normal half-marathoners.

Last year, the marathon had 239 finishers. As of Friday, there were 162 people registered for the marathon, 522 registered for the half marathon and 416 signed up for the 10K, Hellyer said.

Although Wild Hog weekend kicked off at Thursday's Hog Dog Jog with an appearance by a pig named Peppa, previous years' pig races are off. Hellyer said the man who normally brings the pigs has a son getting married.

Neighborhoods along the route in the south ends of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks near the Point Bridge and along Belmont Road and Chestnut Street will be affected by the race Saturday morning and streets will be temporarily closed.


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