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Runners from both near, far reach personal goals at Fargo Marathon

FARGO - Coming into this weekend, John Everett had completed marathons in less than four hours in 49 states.

Make it 50 for 50.

The 51-year-old Missouri man checked off the final destination on his list with a three-hour, 38-minute showing in the Fargo Marathon on Saturday.

"It wasn't my best effort, but I got it done," said Everett, who has notched 74 marathons since he began running in 2001.

"I'd like to come back and run it with fresh legs."

As the 24,000 people who participated in the weekend's events crossed the finish line (or did their best to get there), fresh legs were in increasingly short supply, supplanted by satisfied grins and more than a few bags of ice.

"It hurts now, but I feel good," said Brittney Christianson. The 25-year-old from Burlington, N.D., finished third in the women's marathon with a time of 2:54.

Christianson, a Concordia College graduate running her fourth full marathon, looked cool and collected as she wrapped up the race.

"I was faking it," she said.

Christianson said she was surprised to place in the race.

In spite of the threat of rain early, conditions were favorable to runners, with temperatures in the 50s and cloud cover throughout the day. Some runners at the starting line wrapped themselves in blankets and garbage bags to keep warm, as pump-up music - think "Eye of the Tiger" on repeat - blared through the speakers.

With the exception of the men's half-marathon, which was decided in dramatic fashion by a margin of a few hundredths of a second, few races came down to the wire. But the Fargodome crowd cheered raucously for finishers throughout the day - louder still for hometown favorites, older runners or those who put on a good show.

Dan Lauters, 64, was gunning to break 4:10 to qualify for the Boston Marathon, "which is every runner's dream." He wrote down the splits he needed to hit on his arm. For inspiration, he also wrote the name of his son, who is currently climbing Mount McKinley in Alaska.

His own timer put him about a minute slower than his goal, but he's hoping the official tracking microchip yields a more favorable result.

A few minutes before Lauters finished, Kody Krautkremer, 25, sprinted across the line dressed as the comic-book hero Thor, complete with a cape and a hammer.

He was the anchor of an "Avengers"-themed relay team that included Captain America, Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk.

"I didn't want to get passed by anybody," he said of his dash to the finish.

Kyle Downs, a 26-year-old University of North Dakota graduate, finished fourth in the men's full race at 2:35. It was his first full marathon.

"I was real happy," he said. He said he started the race conservatively but found a good rhythm and ramped up his pace as the run went on.

And he didn't exactly slow down after the race, either: Downs, who is getting married in June, was headed straight to his own bachelor party.

"I'll probably have one beer and just be tanked and then fall asleep," he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502.