WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 10, 2014, 07:54 AM

West Fargo mom completes 5K run at 39-plus weeks pregnant; one of 8,000 runners and walkers

FARGO – Some women wear “Baby On Board” T-shirts when they’re pregnant.

By: Helmut Schmidt and Archie Ingersoll, Forum staff writers, INFORUM, WDAY

FARGO – Some women wear “Baby On Board” T-shirts when they’re pregnant.

Betsy Christianson might be better served by the saying: “Ready To Rest!”

The 29-year-old West Fargo woman ran Friday night’s Fargo Marathon 5K race at 39 weeks and two days pregnant.

The active mom said she had to wait 41 weeks for her first child, 2½-year-old daughter Olivia, to be born. This time around, she wanted to “get the ball going.”

“I’m hoping this will speed things up a little bit,” she said before her run.

Christianson was one of more than 8,000 runners and walkers in the race that started near Fargo’s downtown library, crossed into Moorhead and back over the Red River to finish in Island Park.

Fargo police Lt. Joel Vettel said vehicle and foot traffic swarmed the area, but the race was otherwise uneventful.

“Everything seems to have gone very smooth,” he said.

With so many people coming downtown for the race, organizers had urged participants to give themselves plenty of time to reach the starting line. Kim Huot, 38, of Reynolds heeded the warning and arrived with more than 30 minutes to spare.

Huot and her mom, who both walked the 5K, drove into downtown via Broadway. Traffic was backed up, but they expected that, Huot said.

“Considering it’s downtown and everything’s different, I think they did a pretty good job of organizing,” she said.

Race director Mark Knutson said many of the racers were in the starting area by 6:20 p.m., and with everyone waiting around, organizers went ahead and began the race five minutes before the scheduled 7 p.m. start time.

Carson Simpfenderfer set out from the starting line aiming to achieve his goal. The 19-year-old North Dakota State University freshman from Beulah planned to run the 5K and then race in the 10K this morning.

“I’m not going to push myself too much tonight,” he said before the 5K. “Call it a fun run, just out to enjoy this beautiful weather.”

‘Go for it’

As a full-term mom-to-be, Christianson figured if anything could jog junior into this world, it would be a road race.

“Honestly, I had my (prenatal medical) appointment last Monday, and I was hoping that something would be happening and nothing was,” she said. “I tried to sign up for the 10K, and it was already closed.”

That left the 5K run as perhaps her best way to dash to the delivery room finish line, she said.

“I emailed my doctor and asked his permission and he said, ‘Sure, go for it!’ ” Christianson said.

In her first pregnancy with Olivia, Christianson said she didn’t exercise much. Her weight ballooned by about 70 pounds.

She vowed to never allow that to happen again. This time, she stayed active throughout her pregnancy.

It wasn’t until last week that she gave up doing a four-day-a-week boot-camp workout regimen: calisthenics, weight-lifting, lunges, etc.

On her off days, she’d run three days a week. Plus, she’s run five or six 10K and 5K races.

Altogether, that kept her weight gain to about 35 pounds, she said. “I just feel so much better than last time.”

Christianson said she has a good support system that includes her husband, Sam Christianson.

She said her son also doesn’t seem to mind mom’s roadwork, which may be a hint for settling him down when he finally arrives in the world beyond the womb.

While she does get the occasional elbow in the left rib, he generally hunkers down for the ride.

“He’s a pretty active baby, but when I start running, I don’t know if it puts him to sleep, but he doesn’t seem to be real busy when I’m running,” she said.

There were no paramedics or a Sanford Medical Center obstetrics crew on Christianson’s running team for the race. It was just herself and Jennifer Rude of Fargo.

Rude, 28, said before the race that she hoped everything would go smoothly.

“We’re kind of winging it. We haven’t talked about a plan,” she said.

Still, Rude made sure she parked at a downtown intersection “so if need be, we can make a quick exit.”

Christianson’s workout ethic is inspiring, Rude said.

“I would hope that I’d have the motivation and determination that she has right now,” Rude said.

Christianson’s spirit carried her along the course and over the finish line Friday night. As it turned out, a mid-race delivery wasn’t in the cards.

She said she ran the whole way, finishing, by her estimate, in a time of 28 to 29 minutes.

“I surprised myself,” she said.