Community Spotlight: Blue Ox Marathon Promotes A “Be Active” Bemidji
Over the hills, through the woods and past Paul and Babe, hundreds of runners came out to participate in the 6th annual Blue Ox Marathon this weekend.
“I love running in this weather. It’s nice and cool and you get all sweaty, but yeah,” says Heidi Smith, a 26K participant who came from Ontario, Canada.
Over the years, the Blue Ox Marathon has become more than just a race: it’s become a huge community event. Friday starts with kid races, a 5K and a 10K. Then on Saturday, there’s the marathon, half marathon and the Loop the Lake event that take runners all over the city.
Philip Knutson, the director of the Blue Ox Marathon says, “Throughout those years, the thing that’s grown the most is the community connections and the community support on the event, and that doesn’t even necessarily mean sponsors and partners. It means volunteers. It means things that happen around the community because the event is going on.
This year, around 1,300 people registered for the marathon. Some may not know that one of the purposes of the Blue Ox Marathon is to promote an active lifestyle.
Knutson says, “The Blue Ox is a non-profit. What we’ve done so far at this point is with the “Be Active Expo”, we have other groups that support being active that we allow to be here to show off other ways to be active in the area.”
One of those groups is Sanford Health, who has been a sponsor of the marathon since its inception. They help by providing volunteers at the medical tents. For Sanford, the “Be Active” mission rings true.
“When the race started six years ago, the organizing committee for the Blue Ox marathon came to us and asked if we would be involved, and it fits really well with what we try to do in the community; health and wellness, being involved with active events, and this event just really matches everything for us,” says Brad Neis, the senior director for orthopedic sports medicine and rehab at Sanford Health.
The Blue Ox Marathon sees runners from all over the world, and the ones who took the time to speak to Lakeland News say there’s a good chance they’ll run in Bemidji again.
“It was really a great race. Probably one of the most beautiful races I’ve ever done. The start of it on the trail through [Lake Bemidji] State Park, the leaves were falling around us and it was just gorgeous,” says Cindy Deuser, a runner from Fargo, ND who competed in the half marathon.