Category Archives: SMG Adventures

Team Katelyn Can!

Run Your Way – Katelyn’s Story

Supportive voices from the sidelines, the undeniable sense of positive energy from the participants and spectators, the determination on the runners’ faces – there is no doubt about it; whether you’re running, volunteering, or cheering, running events inspire and lift the spirits of anyone involved. The Grand Forks Marathon is set to take place next week and participating in the wonderful community event this year is the dynamic duo of Katelyn, a very special local 3-year-old, and a North Carolina man who runs for her through the I Run 4 organization. Every runner has a story; this is hers.

Katelyn’s story

Tummy time - sleepy baby

Our daughter wasn’t supposed to make it to her second birthday. When Katelyn was born, she was perfect. We held her in our arms and welcomed her into our family as our third child and only daughter. Katelyn; the name was timeless. I’ll never forget the road trip when we agreed on our “girl name”. It was four months before we were married. Here we were, given the chance to raise our beautiful Katelyn at last. We had dreamed of this moment for a decade, and as our family of five sat in the hospital room adoring her, we knew we were complete. Since she was our third child, the fear of raising another baby had worn off and we looked forward to enjoying the precious moments. On our last night in the hospital, she slept beside my bed while I chatted with my Dad on his drive home. Suddenly she cried out and I looked to see her turning blue. I said “I’ve got to go!” and hung up to call the nurse. This was the first seizure we recognized, and it had taken such a strong hold on her brain that she wasn’t able to breathe. Days in the hospital turned into months, as the tests mounted and we met with countless specialized doctors at different hospitals. As her seizures remained consistent and grew in severity, we grew more fearful of what life would mean for Katelyn. How long will she live? Is she blind? What can she do? Will she get out of the hospital alive? What do we want her to do, feel, and see before we lose her? 

A good day with speech therapyChecking in at WIC with nurse Christine.

All of the tests, doctors, and hospitals concluded that our daughter is genetically different. The only medical conclusion is she is “undiagnosed.” Doctors suspect that tiny genetic variances in the DNA combined within her body have resulted in her unique health experience.

Katelyn's entourage at the park

As she grew, we learned more about what Katelyn’s life would be like. Eventually we went home, but the list of things they said she can’t do grew. Katelyn won’t be able to see like we do; she won’t be able to walk, talk, or potty-train. She won’t be able to hold her head up or feed herself. And most children like her don’t live to see their second birthday.

Katelyn the cheerleader. Go Bison!

Katelyn is 3 years old now, and we’ve learned a lot about what Katelyn can do. Katelyn has shown us, and our family, friends, and community, a perspective that her doctors didn’t see. We know now that while she does things differently, Katelyn Can. To celebrate her milestones and her unstoppable spirit, Katelyn will be running the Grand Forks Half Marathon, her way.

Grandpa Jones cuddles.

We ask that you please come out to support Katelyn and all the other runners! Cheer with friends, make some noise, bring signs, and play music! Even without running, spectators make a difference to the runners. Katelyn cannot see the way we do, but she can see solid colors. Bright pinks, red, and orange are easiest for her to see. We ask any spectators and runners to consider wearing one of Katelyn’s colors, to show love and support to all of those who were told they can’t, because we all can in our own way!

Family vacation 2016

Thank you for reading about our daughter’s story. We believe in love, and that is the oath we have made as parents to embody and share with our children. Katelyn isn’t promised a long life, but she is going to have a life worth living. She may not be able to walk, but she will run this race her way. Whatever impossible feat you have before you, it only requires a change in perspective to overcome. Don’t give up. If Katelyn Can, you can too.

Anyone can come watch and cheer on the runners from 8-10am for the half marathon and 8am-1pm for the marathon runners on Saturday, September 24th. Please visit the Grand Forks marathon website for more information on the day’s events, and find out how you too can volunteer to support the runners and the event. Thank you!

Here’s Why You CAN Run a Race

We’ve all been there – that point in your day where you present yourself with the choice to get up and out for some exercise, or bury your bum into the couch to continue your latest binge-watching obsession. Those first steps can be the most difficult, but once you commit, your body and mind will thank you for it!

A great way to help push yourself off the couch and into your running shoes is to sign up for a race. Regardless of age, size, body type, or any other variable we all may have used as an excuse in the past, running (or walking, or jogging) a race is something any able-bodied person can do (more: see ‘How to Run Your First 5K). From improved physical fitness and mental health to getting some vitamin D and fresh air outdoors, take advantage of the insane benefits that come with the running territory, no matter what level a runner you are.


Setting a goal with a deadline can be helpful to keep you motivated. Maybe you want to enjoy more of the outdoors and try something new to get in shape. Perhaps you’re pumped to start training for your first race. Whatever your individual purpose may be, have a clearly defined goal in mind to help keep you on track for accomplishing what you set out to do. For example, a goal could be to have 10 miles under your belt by your fourth week of training, or being able to run 15 minutes straight by week 8.


Getting motivated enough to take those first few strides is often the hardest part for us self-proclaimed “non-runners”. Once you’re up and moving, that initial sense of accomplishment makes it easier to keep going. There are plenty of different things you can try to boost your level of motivation; the key is to find what works best for your unique self.

Man Running

Having a running buddy might jolt your motivation, or maybe you’d prefer runs to be your “alone time” to decompress. You might want to map out an exact route or let the road take you where it will. Podcasts may be your go-to for runs instead of upbeat jams, or perhaps you’ll find skipping audio altogether suits you best. Trial and error will be key here, so take the time to find what sets you up for success.


There are oodles of running resources out there for every level of runner, including those new to the activity and eager to learn the basics. From getting your technique down and improving your breathing to meal planning and helpful training apps, there is a sea of running assets geared toward beginners for you to take advantage of.

Be sure to keep your overall goals in the forefront of your mind when doing your research. The vast amount of tips and tricks out there can be overwhelming, so having your main objectives clearly outlined will help you stay focused on finding tools that will help you accomplish your specific goals.


An excellent way to keep yourself driven and motivated until you cross that sweet finish line is to have a support system in place. When you begin training, keep those close to you in the loop on how you’re progressing, and let them know you will need their encouragement throughout the process. Sign up for your local programs, like Red River Runners, for group runs that will help you keep yourself accountable and introduce you to a team of fellow runners rooting for you.

Running Group

Come race day, it can also be a huge moral boost to have loved ones cheering you on throughout the course. If your support system is new to the running culture, share these tips for race day cheering to help get them started. Plan to go solo to the event? Not to worry! One of the most empowering aspects of a racecourse is the crowd of strangers yelling for you every step of the way – it’s an exhilarating feeling that keeps you going the distance.

Self Love

Perhaps the most important ingredient to remember is to show yourself some much-needed love and appreciation. Be patient, and have a healthy sense of humor at the beginning of your running journey. After all, this is ultimately about improving yourself, which takes time and practice.

We sometimes get busy with our daily lives and forget to put ourselves first. Taking time out of your day to better yourself is no easy feat, and that deserves to be recognized and celebrated. Be mindful of your accomplishments and take a moment to thank your body for its hard work – and thank yourself for showing up. When you cross that finish line, it will all be well worth it.


Pumped to get started? Check out the Grand Forks Marathon coming up on September 23rd-24th and sign up for the race of your choosing. Whether you want to run solo in the Friday night 5K, tackle the full marathon, or get a group of up to 13 together for a relay team, you’re sure to find a race that will be the perfect push to help get you up and moving.


The Do’s and Don’ts of Supporting Your Favorite Runner

Do you have a friend or loved one who has the courage to call him- or herself a runner? If you are lucky enough to have people in your life with the determination and confidence to tell the world they are runners, we want to share with you some ways to encourage and inspire them, as well as a few ways you may unknowingly be ‘ruffling their tail feathers.’ Below is a list of things NOT to say to the runner in your life, and some words of encouragement that their hard work deserves instead!



Did you walk at all? – Running is hard work and walking is totally acceptable in any race you may compete in. It doesn’t affect whether or not we finish.


The weather was [cold, hot, windy] today; were you feeling good? – Conditions can make a dramatic difference in a runner’s race plan, so can how they slept or felt physically on race day. Acknowledging these hurdles shows a lot of understanding and support.


Did you win? – We run to finish. Most of us are not professional runners.


I’m so proud of you for finishing! – Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and to finish is to win; you could say, “That took a lot of courage and determination and I’m proud of you!”



Running is hard on your body. – You know your body better than anyone else, and we know our own just the same.


Wow, I’m so impressed with your commitment to fitness! – Whether running a race, preparing with daily training sessions, or taking a cross training approach, anyone who signs up for an organized event has worked hard to get where they are.


I could never run a marathon. – Anyone can run a marathon if they try. With some training. We promise. In a world of naysayers, at least be an encourager.


You just ran a marathon! – It also goes for a 5k, 10k, half marathon, etc. The point is, whatever your favorite runner trained for and competed in, they spent time and effort to do it. The focus should be on their accomplishment.



Can’t you skip your run today? – Running is part of who we are. It’s part of our sleeping, breathing, and basic functioning. It is a part of who all runners are, so no, we cannot and will not skip our run today.


You are so dedicated, or How can I help you fit in your run? – Depending on how well you know the runner, you may be able to help them stay on track by relieving them of a small responsibility that might make their running schedule difficult to maintain. Don’t know them well enough to help? Then just encourage or work around their training schedule because you know it’s important to them.


You don’t look like a runner. – If you run, you are a runner. No body type, dress code, or age required.


You look like a runner! – Runners come in ALL shapes, sizes, and ages, and run all different speeds as well as distances. We don’t want to look at the differences but the similarities; they all trained hard and stepped out of their comfort zone to make it to race day.



You’re running on the wrong side of the road. – Runner’s etiquette says to run on the left side of the road, so we are able to see and avoid traffic if necessary. We also tend to avoid sidewalks, because they are generally made of concrete and the asphalt of the road is much easier on our joints while we are ‘pounding pavement.’


I found you a great new trail! – The monotony of training for a race can lead to a great deal of boredom on those daily runs. A new trail, course, or scenery can be a real pick-me-up to a runner. So keep your eyes open for a path, trail, or not-so-busy road you might suggest.


Wow! You sure can eat! – Food is fuel and that’s how we have the ability to go as far as we do. A good long run will stir up a bout of hunger in a hurry!


You earned a good meal, let’s go out, or can I cook you something? – Encourage and support the refueling of a runner, especially as they get closer to a long-distance race. Even runners feel bad about eating sometimes and need to be reminded of the ‘food is fuel’ fact.



So, you’re a jogger then? – For many of us running is about the passion and love we have for the activity. No matter how fast or slow we are going, we are lapping everyone that is still sitting on the couch. Just because their pace may be slower, never, never call someone a jogger. It’s demeaning to the effort and hard work they have put into this great sport.


How was your run? – Training for a race is hard work, and it takes a tremendous amount of dedication and sacrifice that many will never understand. Runners in training love to talk, and sometimes even need to talk about their most recent run, so take a minute to listen; it means a lot.


Running sucks. – Sometimes yes, even we think it sucks, but most of the time we love every calorie-burning minute of it. And that is why we get back out there day after day.


You are inspiring! – Pushing oneself to a goal is not easy, especially a physically demanding one like running. It also takes a mental toughness that not everyone is ready to exert.

Encouragement from those around runners can be what gets us over a slump in training, or keeps us going on miles 11 and 18 come race day. You are an important part of the mix – any runner you know will benefit from your support; it’s one of the pieces we appreciate and need most when we feel negative. Do you love a runner or want to support some great ones? Come out to the Grand Forks Marathon and cheer on the athletes September 23rd and 24th, or if you’re feeling crazy, why not be a runner and sign up for one of the races yourself or with a relay team!


Five Steps for Race Day Cheering

The course is set, the medals are shining, and the racers are ready to run; this picture is just missing one key element: the crowd of spectators supporting, cheering, and motivating the participants to run hog wild! Whether you’re cheering from the start/finish line or just a helpful neighbor giving encouragement from your front porch as the runners follow the course in front of your house, here are some helpful tips to get you cheering!


Instead of the standard clap and shout, pick a few phrases ahead of time such as “You’re flying,” “You’re doing amazing,” or another encouraging slogan. If they have their name on their race bib or shirt, adding it to your phrase can really boost their adrenaline. Just avoid phrases such as “almost there” or “only a few more miles”, unless you are immediately next to the finish line or know the exact mileage, in order to avoid frustration or discourage the racers.


Don’t just say it, spell it out on a sign! The visual impact of signs on the course, whether on posters or in chalk on the road, really helps to break up the monotony of the race. Try something funny or incorporate names of people you know to encourage them and maybe give them a laugh to push them to the finish line.


Marathons can take a while to complete, and water/food stations are for race participants only. With that in mind, pack some bottled water and snacks to keep yourself hydrated and happy! Also, check the forecast before leaving home; you may want to pack a few extra layers or an umbrella in case of inclement weather. Wear comfortable shoes, because you may be standing for long periods of time, and bring an easy-to-carry lawn chair to give yourself a little break while cheering on the course. If you really want to go all out, consider bringing snacks and tissues to hand out to runners as they pass – it will be much appreciated!


If you’re cheering on a particular racer, pay special attention to what they are wearing and their pace to keep one step ahead of them on the course. You will want to also have a course map with you at all times to know which spot to go to next. Keep in mind that it could take several minutes or more just to get across the start line with all the other runners in the same spot, so you may need to adjust after first spotting your runner! Following your runner throughout the course is a great way to boost energy and give them something to look forward to; just don’t get too overzealous and walk or stand on the course, creating an obstacle for other runners.


They did it! Your runner crossed the finish line. Now is the time to let your support shine. Whether your racer is ecstatic with their results or wishing they had done a bit better, now is the time to boost them up and let them know how amazing it is that they finished the race. The finish line can be chaotic and crowded, so make sure you have a planned location to meet up, congratulate them, and give them some well-deserved hydration, snacks, and a “job well done” cheer.


There’s no wrong way to cheer for a mighty racer, but these tips will make the day a little more fun, stress-free, and successful for all involved. Get your cheering lungs, poster board, and walking shoes ready; the Grand Forks Marathon on September 23rd-24th will give your runner the perfect chance to run in an inaugural event, and you the perfect chance to try out those cheers!

10 Reasons to Run a Marathon (on a Relay Team)!

The weather is warm and the grass is green, which means outdoor season is here in the Midwest! Whether you’re an avid running machine or a couch potato looking to spice up your fitness routine, read on to find out why you should be a part of a relay team in the Grand Forks Marathon this coming September 23-24, 2016!

  1. Bonding Time is the Best

What’s better than hanging out with your favorite work buddies outside the office, or with your long-lost friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with? Setting aside the time to do something fun and memorable together is a great way to bond, and getting out and getting active makes being in a marathon together that much better!

Bridal 13 Team

2. It’s Good for You

Eating out or grabbing drinks together is great fun, but why not change it up and do something good for your bodies and great to build your team while increasing morale! Running releases endorphins, endorphins make you happy; being healthy, happy, and fit go hand in hand.

3. Get Some Cool Swag

If you’re just there for the free T-shirt and bragging rights, then you’re in luck! Being part of a marathon, whether you’re running as an individual or on a relay team usually involves some pretty awesome swag, pictures to prove it, and of course an epic finishers celebration at the end!

Total swag

4. An Opportunity to Wear Cool Outfits

Go hard or go home….with your outfits! From tutus to tie-dye, there’s no such thing as too much when it comes to marathon relays. Above all, you’re there to work as a team and have fun, so bond together in bright colors and stand out from the crowd!

5. And Win Awesome Awards for Your Cool Outfits

As an added bonus, relay teams sometimes have special awards separate from individual racers, such as trophies for “Best Dressed,” “Most Spirited,” and so on. What’s better than having a blast together? Getting awards for it!

6. As Well as a Medal

A relay team finisher’s medal isn’t only a piece of cool bling, it’s also the perfect way to start your marathon medal collection and look back on the great time you had with friends, family, or co-workers.

Our Medals

7. It Doesn’t Take Months to Train

Running or walking on a relay team makes it easier to train, as they can range from 1 mile to 13.1 miles per individual. If you’re a non-runner, working up to 13.1 miles may take a little extra effort, but nothing like the intense, months-long training full marathoners go through. Most people can walk a mile with little to no extra training effort, so a relay team can really be individualized to your team’s capabilities and is the perfect choice for first-timers, “I’m just here to have fun”ers, and serious competitors alike!

8. Or a Week to Recover

Blisters, chafing, cramps, and soreness – no, thanks! If you’re there to have fun and be fit, but don’t want the lingering soreness and recovery time of a full 26 miles, a shorter relay option is perfect. Relay=more friends=less distance=more fun!

9. Check Something Off the Bucket List

Always wanted to run a marathon, but have never found the perfect opportunity to sign up? Face your fears together with your teammates and cross a marathon off the bucket list – so happy together!

10. Because It’s Just Good Old-Fashioned Fun

Get off the couch and out of the house, and have some good old-fashioned fun in the great outdoors with great swag and even better friends! What better way is there to unplug, run, and have a blast than a marathon relay with your favorite people?!

We know you’re ready to take the plunge and run hog wild, so grab your work buddy or your whole family and sign up to be part of one of the full or half Grand Forks Marathon relay teams sponsored by Stray Media Group over Wild Hog Weekend on September 23-24, 2016!