Officials prepare to shut down Fargo Marathon if heat is too much
FARGO The wet bulb index is a weather measuring system that marathon race directors try not to think about. But it's possible it could come into play Saturday for the Fargo Marathon. If the combination of heat and humidity reaches a certain point...
The wet bulb index is a weather measuring system that marathon race directors try not to think about. But it's possible it could come into play Saturday for the Fargo Marathon.
If the combination of heat and humidity reaches a certain point - so scientific that Fargo Marathon director Mark Knutson couldn't explain it in common language - a black flag will be issued to aid station captains along the marathon course notifying them to immediately halt runners.
The police car leading the race will then turn around and drive back toward the field to stop anybody from continuing. The forecast calls for a high temperature of 84 degrees.
"The humidity will be the biggest factor," Knutson said. "If it's dry, we should be OK."
So far, signs point to it being OK. WDAY meteorologist John Wheeler said the weather will be in a state of change throughout Saturday.
"The way I'm looking at it right now, there will be more humidity Saturday morning than anybody has run in, but it won't be that sticky," he said. "You'll notice it, but will it be a massive factor? I think probably the wind will be more of a bigger deal."
The dew points are expected to be in the 50s. Area runners have been training in dew points in the 30s and 40s lately.
But if there's an unexpected change and the race is called, getting runners back to the Fargodome would be a combination of buses and citizen cooperation. In addition to the buses the marathon already uses, city buses would be contacted for additional help.
That wouldn't be enough to get everybody, so the marathon would ask residents along the course to help.
The heat will be a dramatic turnaround from last year, which was in the 30s during the start of the race. The flag system also includes a yellow cautionary flag and a red warning flag.
"In the grand scheme of things, it won't be a scorcher or super sticky run," Wheeler said.
'Charter Club' at 48 heading into sixth year
The number of runners who completed the first five Fargo Marathons was lowered by just nine runners after last year and stands at 48.
The "Charter Club," as it's called in most marathons, is a testament to either consistency and persistence or both. Jacob Yurek of Dassel, Minn., is entered for the sixth year and his 33rd overall despite being just 29 years old.
"I think it's a disease," Yurek said. "I just like running marathons. I'll be there. I'll do this one until the day I die."
Rod Van Hoof of Inver Grove Heights, Minn., also a Fargo charter club member, likes the flat Fargo course and that it's close to his hometown of Grand Forks.
"So doing a marathon back near home was kind of cool," he said. "I usually stay at a friend's house, so I don't need to worry about a hotel and I like the fact it's on a Saturday so you can run, celebrate and go home on Sunday."
Most major marathons in the United States are run on Sunday because it's the best day to deal with big-city traffic. Saturday will be Van Hoof's 16th marathon.
"This is a different environment, the whole community is excited about it," he said, before turning his attention to the warm forecast. "Fortunately, it will be a good day for the spectators but not so much for the runners."
Etc. etc. etc.
The marathon did not receive a shipment of finisher medals it was expecting this week and issued a statement on its website notifying runners. If it does run out, runners will be required to fill out a name and address form on the Fargodome floor. There is a bonus, not only will you get your medal in the mail but you will get either a marathon poster or finisher's towel as a bonus. ... They had so much fun last year that they're doing it again. About 80 students with matching T-shirts from Fargo's Carl Ben Eielson Middle School will participate in tonight's 5K.