Marathon Man: Monte Fjosne will run his 200th marathon this week in Walker
BEMIDJI — In 1989, Monte Fjosne booked a hunting trip into the Yukon. He was 39, and his outfitter was quick to give him a bit of advice.
"Hunting in the Yukon isn’t easy so get into the best shape that you can," the outfitter said.
Fjosne took the guides’ words to heart and he immediately dedicated himself to be prepared for the challenges ahead.
"I trained for nine months and worked myself into very good shape," Fjosne said. "And I found out that I needed to do that. To hunt sheep, moose, caribou and other animals in the Yukon mountains you have to be in great shape."
After that hunting trip, Fjosne discovered that he enjoyed being in top shape and he decided to continue his workout schedule. And for the past 23 years he has taken that passion for staying in shape to a level not many people can claim.
"In 1990, I ran my first marathon at Grandma’s and in 2002, I ran my 100th marathon in Walker," Fjosne said. "Next week, on Sept. 21, I’m going to return to Walker to run in my 200th marathon.
"I think it’s only fitting to run my 200th where I ran my 100th."
In his 23 years of running, Fjosne has averaged nine marathons a year. In 2011, he ran in 10 marathons and the most he has done in a single year is 15.
"When I started running I did only about two or three a year but my peak was 15," he said. His passion has taken him to 47 states and Washington, D.C., and one of his few remaining goals is running a marathon in all 50 states.
"I have Connecticut, Vermont and West Virginia still on the list," Fjosne said. "Getting all 50 states is a goal I’ve had for a long time and I would like to schedule a trip where I could do at least two on one trip."
Fjosne’s fastest marathon time is 3:18, a feat he accomplished about 17 years ago at Rochester. Now that he is older than 60, however, his average time is about four hours.
Bemidji State University track and field coach Craig Hougen has known Fjosne for many years and has coached Fjosne’s son and daughter-in-law while they were members of the BSU track team. He salutes Fsjone for his dedication to the sport and for developing his unusual training regimen.
"Monte is not your typical distance runner in the fact that he doesn’t train, train and train," Hougen said. "The typical distance runner actually overtrains because the standard mentality is that more training is always better.
"But Monte trains at his own pace."
That pace includes running when he wants to and running as far as he wants to.
"I love to golf and hunt, so I don’t have a set schedule for running," Fjsone said. "I have no set goal of how many miles I need to run a week but I do try to get close to 1,000 miles a year."
And those miles include the shorter races Fsjone loves to enter.
"I started a recent week with a 5-kilometer race in Blackduck on Saturday and a 13.1-mile half marathon and a 5-kilometer race in Park Rapids on Sunday. The next weekend, I did a 10-mile race in Nevis on Saturday, ran six miles on Sunday around the lake that my mom lives on and then ran seven miles in Bemidji on Monday."
Fjsone loves to run and, according to Haugen, he runs for the right reasons.
"Some people run marathons for the glory but Monte runs just because he likes to do it," Haugen said. "Monte doesn’t give off the aura of somebody who has accomplished great things.
"When I have a race he’ll enter and usually start near the back because he’s giving pointers to somebody," Haugen continued. "But by the end of the race, he usually is near the front. He can do that because he has an efficient pace and he doesn’t get tired."
"Physically, not everyone can run 26 miles but everyone can enjoy running," Fjosne said. "When I started, I remember putting on a pair of winter boots and running one-quarter mile to the highway and having to walk home. The next day I ran to the highway again but this time I was able to run home.
"That’s how you start," he continued. "Run as far as you can and then walk home. The next time run 10 minutes out and 10 minutes back. Take a day off and the next day push yourself a little more. You’d be surprised to see how far you actually can push yourself."
Fsjone has pushed himself through 199 marathons and he sees no reason to slow down now.
"Running keeps me out of trouble and helps keep people out of non-healthy situations," he said. "I’m going to keep running until I can’t run any further.
"There is no secret to running. All you do is put the next foot forward and keep going."