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MARILYN HAGERTY: Pizza tastes great after 27-mile swim

Dear Shirley, If anyone was thinking of racing the Red River downstream 27.2 miles to Oslo, Minn., this turned out to be a good year to do it. I talked to people who were in the Extreme North Dakota Watersports Endurance Test, or END-WET, Saturda...

Marilyn Hagerty
Longtime Herald columnist Marilyn Hagerty and her review of Olive Garden going viral is the Herald's 2012 story of the year. Grand Forks Herald photo by John Stennes.
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Dear Shirley,

If anyone was thinking of racing the Red River downstream 27.2 miles to Oslo, Minn., this turned out to be a good year to do it. I talked to people who were in the Extreme North Dakota Watersports Endurance Test, or END-WET, Saturday and they said the temperature of the river was 78 degrees.

And that was much nicer than 83 degrees last year. The river is high and it is flowing right along. I went down to the banks of the Red below Cabela's in downtown East Grand Forks Saturday morning to watch the swimmers, the kayaks and the boat racers start out.

Later I learned that it was a woman, Karen Zemlin, from the Twin Cities who won the swimming race. It took her 6 hours and 58 minutes to get to Oslo. Other top winners, also women, were Jen Schumacher from Los Angeles and Sandra Bergquist from Eden Prairie, Minn.

There were 25 solo swimmers and seven in relays along with kayaks and boats. People came here from all over the country to compete.

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In all my 56 years in Grand Forks, I have never seen anyone swim the Red River, Shirley. And it is not allowed within city limits. Those who train there notify officials beforehand. The swimmers in the race are accompanied by people who make sure they are not at risk.

One of the swimmers was Scott Jensen, a Grand Forks lawyer. He was in it for the second year. He seemed pleased to come in at 7 hours and 23 minutes. Last year, his time was 9 hours and 40 minutes.

Would he do it again?

He always says no, but then he goes back into training. The guy is 52, Shirley. He told me nothing ever tasted as good as the pizza he had in Oslo at the end of the race.

Andy Magness is a key organizer of Extreme North Dakota racing, and there was an awards ceremony Sunday.

Chess lessons

I am sure nobody is in training for a race on the Santa Cruz River in Tucson. I know it has become a dry river bed, but I remember you talking about floods during significant seasonal rains.

Summer is moving along. Not all kids are engrossed in texting one another. Some have been finding their way to play chess at the Grand Forks Public Library. Aaron Stefanich, the children's director, says there is a group learning strategies and the game. And there always is room for more who want to join in.

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I wish I had learned how to play chess. Those who get into it really enjoy the challenges. I guess challenges are what keep us going.

Love from your sister Marilyn watching from the west side of the Red River as it flows everlastingly north.

P.S. The good news is that Mary Adams of Grand Forks was inducted into the North Dakota Women's Golf Association Hall of Fame at the state tournament in Mandan this week. The bad news is that Martha Klevay lost three balls. But she took first place in the third flight.

Reach Marilyn Hagerty at mhagerty@gra.midco.net or by telephone at (701) 772-1055.

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