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More than a Marathon

Updated: Jul 10, 2019

Now in year 8, the Wild Hog races’ event has morphed from a fun-weekend run to a serious economic infusion for the city. As the organizing team nears the finish line for the 2018 three-day spectacle, we found out what the races mean to them—and to us.

Since 2011, a team of runners, restaurant owners, musicians, private business sponsors and volunteers have given us a reason to line the streets along the river and strike cowbells or raise hand-made signs in an effort to inspire our friends or family members to keep going. For a three-day stretch in late September, the Grand Cities becomes a runner’s town. What started as a half-marathon designed to promote an active lifestyle and a handful of south-end businesses, has transformed into a Boston Marathon-qualifying 26.2-mile race that infuses the community with an economic impact that can be seen on the streets and in the businesses around town (racers like to celebrate post-run). We asked the organizers—there are now more than 30 who work on the race—how the Wild Hog Marathon event has evolved, how the community has embraced the race and what most runners are thinking about as they cross the finish line.

What are (some of) the benefits to the community for hosting this race in

the Grand Cities?

This race is a great opportunity to feature the communities of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. Not only do we see economic impact from visitors coming to town for the race weekend, but we get to show off our beautiful cities, the greenway and that we’re a great place to visit even outside of race weekend!

-Stacy Kusler, Sponsor Manager/Race Organizer

The people of Grand Forks have a special opportunity to watch hundreds of people attempt to bring their goal or dream to fruition. Witnessing a person strive for something great, something bigger and better, is very powerful.

-Valerie Bauer, Community Engagement

What is the best moment you’ve experienced with this race since its inception?

In 2017, I had the opportunity to be a pacer for the half marathon. Essentially, pacers run the race at a particular speed or pace and promise to finish in a specific time. Runners can follow a pacer if their goal is to complete the race in that time. I had a wonderful woman run with me nearly the entire way (she sped off towards the end to finish even faster than her goal), and it was absolutely amazing. I spent the race trying to distract her from the long mileage using stories and, well, singing Taylor Swift. I also took every opportunity I could to remind her what an amazing feat she was accomplishing and getting the crowds to cheer for her specifically as we ran by. It was such a fantastic experience! I was honored to share a tiny part in her race.

-Valerie Bauer

What is important about this marathon?

I think the biggest thing I’d like people to know is that there really is something for everyone! You don’t have to be an experienced runner to be a part of the marathon weekend. We have a 5K and a 10K in addition to the half and full marathon. We also offer relays, a family fun run and a “hog dog jog” where you can bring your dog to run along with you. It’s really just a fun weekend to get out, be active and have some fun.

-Jason Rolland, Marketing Team Lead

The Wild Hog races bring a diverse group of people together each year. From those on the planning committee to the racers to the spectators. In an era where divisiveness and snark is on the rise, it is wonderful to see so many people come together to share time, energy and support for one another.

-Valerie Bauer

What have you learned about yourself or the community after becoming a part of

the race?

Just go and stand at any of the races’ finish lines and see people come across it and I dare you not to tear up a bit at their effort and sense of accomplishment. It’s amazing to watch.

-Deb Dunham, Relay and Race Zone Captains Committee G

// To view the full story, check out the digital issue here


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