Fargo Marathon is the motivation for training for defending champ Tesfaye

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The two-time defending champion and Fargo South graduate, currently living and training in Boston, is hoping health and training issues in the past year are permanently in the rear-view mirror. Since winning the Fargo race last year, she dealt with low iron levels in her body and a job that made training and racing tough.

A better diet and iron supplement addressed that issue. And she took a new position in March with an insurance firm that has made her schedule easier to deal with. It’s allowed her to get her mileage up to around 90 miles per week.

“The Fargo Marathon is the race that motivated me to continue running when times were harder, when I was not healthy,” Tesfaye said.

She won in 2016, her first-ever marathon, in a time of 2 hours, 37 minutes, 27 seconds. She won last year in 2:38.09. She was rarely challenged in both races.

Her last competition was the Eastern States 20 Mile at the end of March, a race that starts in Maine and ends in Massachusetts where Tesfaye was the top female runner and sixth overall out of 589 runners with a time of 1:58.28. She figured that would translate to a 2:34 marathon.

It was a much better performance than the USA Track & Field Marathon Championships at the California International Marathon in Sacramento in December. It was a couple of months after lab tests confirmed her low iron issue, which caused her to pull out of three races.

“I was struggling, I couldn’t finish and I didn’t know why,” Tesfaye said. “I thought it was training and maybe not getting enough volume. I tried everything. So I only had a couple of months to train for the (California Marathon) and didn’t do as well as I wanted.”

She said she was on a 2:32 pace before faltering late and finishing at 2:59. Sara Hall won it with a time of 2:28.10.

Tesfaye joined the Greater Boston Track Club, but work gets in the way of the club’s Tuesday evening workout, meaning Tesfaye has to train on her own. She’s working on finding ways to train with other runners. Most runners prefer training partners to help push them.

Still, she appears to be on track for another top-notch performance in Fargo.

“It’s the same every year, the Fargo Marathon is my motivation to train hard,” she said.

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