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Local runners represent Grand Forks at Boston marathon

Three Grand Forks natives have earned a place in the 122nd Boston Marathon, which kicks off at 8:40 a.m. today.

Brian Gregoire, 54, said he starting running when his family got a dog that he would take on walks. Those walks gradually turned into runs. Ten years later, Gregoire says he's competed in about 50 5Ks, 20 10Ks, between eight and 10 half marathons and six marathons.

To earn himself a spot in the Boston marathon, Gregoire had to break three hours and 30 minutes, which he did at the 2016 Wild Hog Marathon in Grand Forks with a time of three hours and 19 minutes. This wasn't Gregoire's first time qualifying for Boston, but he said this year was the year he wanted to run because his family would be able to attend.

"Boston will probably be a once in a lifetime race," said Gregoire.

Gregoire says he runs for the health benefits.

"It's very relaxing. Usually I just go out without music or anything. It gives you time to think." Though Gregoire usually prefers to train alone, he said he has made many friends through the Red River Runner's Club.

One of those friends is Jessica Snyder, who has been running since 2007. Since then, she has completed 15 marathons, countless half marathons and even some 50-mile races.

When asked what inspires her to continue running, Snyder said, "It's almost just to prove to myself that I can do it...There's a lot of self-fulfillment I get from running that's hard to get from other places," she said.

Snyder qualified for the Boston Marathon at the Fargo Marathon this past fall after trying to qualify for three years. Needing to finish the race in under 3 hours and 45 minutes, Snyder completed Fargo in 3 hours and 40 minutes. She was voted as the Red River Runner's Club runner of the year.

The final contestant competing in today's race is Nikki Jo Klefstad, a runner of 13 years. Klefstad has participated in two marathons, the Grand Forks Wild Hog and the Leading Ladies Marathon in Spearfish, S.D., where she finished with a time of 3 hours and 39 minutes. To prepare for the marathon, Klefstad runs almost daily, going as far as 20 miles at a time. Klefstad said competing in Boston became a goal of hers as her running continued to develop.

"It's just the feeling of doing something you thought you never could before," she said.

Klefstad credited her husband with getting her into running; he signed her up for her first 5K.