"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

God Was Near In Fargo!

To put it simple -- God was near in Fargo, ND at the sixth running of the Fargo Marathon events! I've been to a lot of cities -- I've run in big marathons and small ones. I've been a part of big city events and small town festivals. But, I can tell you this for sure -- The Fargo Marathon is a WORLD CLASS event. We all can learn a lot from Mark Knutson and the organizing committee of this event. "Unbelievable" is the only word that I can come up with. Well, maybe "spectacular" would also fit the bill!
I believe that God is honored in:
Excellence - In Fargo they left no stone unturned. They did the right thing when there was a decision to be made. Decisions were not made based on what was best for the race. Decisions were based on what was best for the runners.
Simplicity - Have a plan, make it simple, and stick to it. Mark Knutson had a dream several years ago. The race is now in its sixth year. I understand that they started with 1,500 people the first year, then to 6,000, now to 20,000 in all events. Make it simple and they will come and they HAVE!
Servanthood - Everything that the organizing committee has done has been participant driven. Then, when there is an issue that comes up, they deal with it as they would want to be dealt with . That's having a servant's heart and hands. Everyone who works on the Fargo Marathon Staff has one goal and they are all going in the same direction. This is a rare thing in this industry and now they have captured the true spirit of servanthood.
Details - When I landed in Fargo on Wednesday I took a cab to my hotel which was right beside the Fargo Dome for my convenience. Mark Knutson made sure of it. When I walked in the door of the hotel, they knew who I was and they told me that I had packages waiting. They were loaded on a luggage cart for me. Later that day I met with Mark and Carol Sexton, who heads up the volunteers for the race. Carol handed me the keys to a car to use for the weekend -- so things would be convenient for me. Every aspect of the expo set-up, registration, time lines for starts of races, speaking room set-up, etc. was flawless! Details tell about the true character of those involved.
Community - The entire community of Fargo embraced the event. Aid stations were outstanding because of wonderful volunteers. Race fan support was as good as I've seen at a race of this size. The community has taken ownership in the race and it shows! There was hardly any area of the race where you didn't have spectators cheering the runners on. And, the city is beautiful. I'm not sure what I expected to see, but it was so much more than I could have imagined. Breathtaking!
It's almost impossible to catch "lightning" in a bottle. But, Mark and his staff may have accomplished this feat in Fargo. Sure they may change a few things here or there. Tweak this or that. But, man, it was a great event.
I knew it was a good day when the race started on time even in the rain. It was a good day when all the aid stations were properly supplied and my drink was cool. It was a good day when I saw people on every street along the course cheering runners along. The crowd support was better than a lot of major marathons, which Fargo NOW is!
The last mile was emotional for me because I knew that I had a chance to run a better time than I've run in the past few years. With health issues and so much else on my plate, my times have suffered. It's been about 3 or 4 years since I've run a better time. However, that last mile was lined with people and I thought how great it was and then I entered the finish shoot inside the Fargo Dome! It was deafening. Seats were filled, people were cheering, GP Pearlberg met me on the home stretch and gave me a high five as he announced my finish. It may be the best finish of all of the races I've ever run.
The people will be the most important thing that I'll remember about Fargo. From Mark Knutson, the race director, to Becky, Emily, Carol, Durk, and so many more that made my stay one to remember I will forever be grateful. There's not many times that the director of a ministry is treated like I was this weekend. But, they did it out of respect for all those people who run under the name TEAM 413. Like I wrote earlier, we can all learn a lot from the people of Fargo.
God was glorified. God was near. God showed up in ways that are unimaginable.
Under HIS Grace...