Mike Kohler lined up with thousands of other runners inside the Fargodome here on Saturday, May 19, ready for his first half-marathon as part of the Sanford Fargo Marathon. It would be a big step for the 26-year-old plumber and pipefitter from West Fargo, who ran the 10K last year and the 5K the year before that.
Nervous and tired from waking up earlier than usual, Kohler wasn’t paying full attention. He thought the full and half marathons started at the same time, at 7 a.m. In reality, the half-marathon started 15 minutes later. Wearing headphones, Kohler wasn’t listening closely to the starting announcements. “So when they said ‘go,’ I went,” he said, reminiscing about the day.
Kohler started getting suspicious after seeing course markings that said “full marathon only.” He wondered whether the two courses would converge and half-marathon markings would appear. At mile eight, when the course looped around from the bike path, he noticed runners crossing the 12th Avenue North bridge over the Red River. It was then he fully realized his mistake, knowing the half-marathon course did not go into Moorhead.
Kohler thought about stopping at 13.1 miles, knowing he’d run as far as he’d aimed to. In fact, he’d met his goal of doing it in about 2 ½ hours. But hey, he was feeling pretty good, and convinced himself to continue.
And finish, he did, completing the 26.2 miles in 5:54:26. Despite going the distance, Kohler received a half-marathon medal because that’s what his bib number indicated. It’s not about the medal anyway, but the accomplishment, he said.