When Lynn Beiswanger and David Nash took over leadership of the Bismarck Marathon 11 years ago, the longstanding capital city running event had seemingly run its course. Participation hovered below 200 runners and volunteer support was waning.
The event was about to be abandoned when Nash volunteered to take over, and volunteered his good friend, Lynn Beiswanger, to co-pilot.
“The idea of taking on the organizational side of marathon was intriguing, especially since David and I had some experience in running that distance,” Beiswanger said. Collectively, he and Nash have run more than 50 marathons across the country and around the world.
“Our goals were threefold: we wanted to share our love for running with others, support local children’s charities making a difference in kids’ lives and find our niche—what makes our race unique and special.”
By growing the race to nearly 2,000 runners and donating an average of $20,000 to local charities in recent years, it is safe to say, “Mission accomplished.” Along the way, the co-directors added events to accommodate runners at all levels—a marathon relay, a 5K run, a 10K run and a children’s mini marathon.
This year Beiswanger and Nash passed the race director’s baton to two new leaders—Dustin Erhardt and Mark Momerak. The handoff has been a smooth one. Erhardt and Momerak are running enthusiasts who have been involved with the Bismarck Marathon as participants and volunteers for several years.
Erhardt shadowed Nash and Beiswanger for the last two years of the marathon to prepare for the role.
“My hope for the Bismarck Marathon is to continue building on the great event we have today,” Erhardt said. “The Bismarck Marathon brings not only a great weekend community activity, but many hours of healthy fun with friends while training for a race, whether that is a 5K or a marathon.”
For all four race directors, a common theme for investing time and energy into the Bismarck Marathon centers on friendships with like-minded souls.
“The greatest reward has been the lifelong, deep friendships I have made through working with the marathon committee and participants as well as running in general,” Nash said. “Friendships that transcend running and races and that have developed into amazing and lasting blessings.”
Erhardt echoed the sentiment. “I have met some of my best friends and gained levels of support through running that I never imagined.”
Momerak agreed, adding that the opportunity to mentor new runners is a big part of committing to his new role. “Running has taken me places I thought were only dreams and has allowed me to develop lifelong friendships. Those friendships include mentoring new runners to help them realize their dreams and potential. Supporting the Bismarck Marathon is an important piece of fostering even more relationships with the running community and our community’s youth.”
At this year’s marathon, watch for Erhardt and Momerak working feverishly behind the scenes to direct a smooth event for all. You will find Beiswanger and Nash on the starting line, race numbers pinned to their singlets. “After all these years of working to create a great racecourse for our runners, I’m excited to experience the race firsthand,” Beiswanger said.
To join them, register today at thebismarckmarathon.com.