MOORHEAD — Minnesota State Moorhead President Anne Blackhurst is usually on the treadmill in her basement by 5 a.m. during the week, running five to 12 miles.

Fitting marathon training into her schedule doesn’t seem like a chore for Blackhurst, in her first year as president at MSUM.

“It feels more necessary than ever actually, to have running as my stress relief,” said the 54-year-old Blackhurst, who ran her first marathon in 2010 to commemorate her 50th birthday.

On Monday, Blackhurst is set to run in the prestigious Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual marathon. She qualified for Boston at last year’s Fargo Marathon, finishing the 26.2 miles in 3 hours, 58 minutes and 49 seconds.

“Initially it wasn’t on my bucket list,” Blackhurst said. “I was going to run one marathon and be done. First my goal was to get faster, then I realized it was not out of the question that I could run fast enough to qualify for Boston, so then that became my goal.”

Minnesota State University Moorhead President Anne Blackhurst said she plans to pay the Fargo Marathon entry fee for 10 student relay teams as long as they wear MSUM gear. David Samson / The Forum
Minnesota State University Moorhead President Anne Blackhurst said she plans to pay the Fargo Marathon entry fee for 10 student relay teams as long as they wear MSUM gear. David Samson / The Forum

Boston will be her 10th marathon, and she’s already registered for next October’s Twin Cities Marathon.

“At this point, I’m pretty hooked,” Blackhurst said with a laugh.

Blackhurst didn’t start running until she was around 30 years old and working on her doctorate at Ohio University in Athens. Prior to that, Blackhurst said she wasn’t an athlete in “any way, shape or form” in high school or college.

The demands of working full time, working toward her doctorate and being a single mom were reasons Blackhurst started running. She first started walking, and that soon turned into a running habit.

“I had a lot of things going on,” Blackhurst said. “I really took up running initially as a stress reliever.”

Blackhurst ran casually for 20 years, usually three or four miles a day, before she decided to compete in her first marathon, which was in Mankato, Minn. Blackhurst was the vice president for academic and student affairs at Minnesota State-Mankato at the time.

She finished that first marathon in 4 hours, 32 minutes.

“I remembered crossing the finish line and thinking ‘I never want to do that again,’ ” Blackhurst said. “It was really hard. … It was about two hours later I was thinking to myself ‘I could do it faster.’ ”

Blackhurst has run the Fargo Marathon three times, including last year. She isn’t going to run the full marathon at Fargo this year because it’s too close a time frame to the Boston Marathon. Blackhurst, however, is running a leg on a marathon relay in Fargo.

Blackhurst is excited the marathon route is going through the MSUM campus this spring.

“Personally, it feels pretty meaningful to me,” Blackhurst said. “I’m going to run the leg of the relay that goes through our campus and I’m really looking forward to that.”

Blackhurst said she plans to pay the entry fee for 10 student relay teams as long as they wear MSUM gear.

“That will be really cool to see students participating,” Blackhurst said. “It’s just great for our campus to be connected to a signature community event like that.”

Leading up to the Boston Marathon, Blackhurst did her longer training runs on weekends, usually ranging from 18 to 22 miles. Her job, family and marathon training are her priorities.

“I don’t do a lot of stuff outside of those three things,” Blackhurst said.

That’s why she’s excited and nervous to run in the Boston Marathon because this will likely be her only chance to compete in an event of that magnitude.

“I don’t even have a frame of reference for what it will be like to run a race with 36,000 other people,” Blackhurst said. “I don’t think I will ever qualify again. I just can’t see myself working that hard. I will run more marathons, but probably run them more for the experience.”

Here is a list of area runners who are registered to run in Monday’s Boston Marathon:

North Dakota: Charles Allen, Bismarck; James Arnason, Grand Forks; Lynn Beiswanger, Bismarck; Kathleen Boyle-Wrigley, Bismarck; Kari Callahan, Fargo; Kevin Carollo, Fargo; Kimberly Christianson, Fargo; Richard Dafoe, Grand Forks; Jarrod Danuser, Fargo; Jon Danuser, Fargo; Kyle Downs, Bismarck; Liv Fetterman, Bismarck; Nicholas Flom, Grand Forks; Kenneth Frenette, Valley City; Mark Hager, Bismarck; Christopher Hass, Fargo; Rachel Hellyer, Grand Forks; Michelle Hintz, Bismarck; Ray Hintz, Bismarck; Stephen Hjerstedt, Grand Forks; Tanya Holte, Fargo; Loren Howard, Grand Forks; Travis Husen, Fargo; Jon Jensen, Grand Forks; Stephanie Jensen, Jamestown; Diane Kenney, Fargo; Lori Klabunde, Bismarck; Tenielle Klubben, Fargo; Kathryn Lein, Bismarck; Nicki Loucks, Crosby; Sarah McCullough, Bismarck; Mark Momerak, Bismarck; Barb Murphy, Grand Forks; David Nash, Bismarck; Kimberly Neigum, Bismarck; Jon Owen, Luverne; Jennie Rivard, Fargo; Mauri Roy, Langdon; Aimee Stamper, Minot; Jamie Steidl, Fargo; Kalie Steidl, Fargo; Nicholai Stromme, Aneta; Stephanie Thompson, Bismarck; Cassandra Tomlinson, Grand Forks; Miles Traiser, Bismarck; Jerod Tufte, Dawson; Denise Weeks, Bismarck.

Minnesota: Anne Blackhurst, Moorhead; Michael Breen, Fergus Falls; Bill Burns, Moorhead; Patty Jaeger, Vergas; Mark Johnson, Moorhead; Patty Johnson, Battle Lake; Meghan Kirkwood, Moorhead; Steven Makela, Moorhead; David Pratt, Moorhead; Jerry Rick, Breckenridge; Sheila Rodning, Fergus Falls; Anna Vanwechel, Fergus Falls; Samantha Vanwechel, Fergus Falls; Dan Hanson, East Grand Forks; Laurie Heneman, Warroad; Jennifer Strand, Roseau; Douglas Watson, Warroad.

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