81-year-old Williston woman will make relay her first race

Amy Reep, 81, of Williston, N.D., pictured Wednesday, April 30, 2014, at the Williston Area Recreation Center, is training to run the Fargo Marathon Relay with her three daughters. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

WILLISTON, N.D. – Running her first race at 81, Amy Reep jokes that organizers of the Fargo Marathon may take down the finish line before she completes her leg of a team relay.

But the Williston woman who is competing with her three daughters is confident she’ll finish the 5.5 miles.

“I guess it’s not about how fast I’m going to get there,” Reep said. “It’s that I’m going to make it.”

Reep was able to watch the runners during last year’s Fargo Marathon because the weekend coincided with her granddaughter’s high school graduation party. Two of Reep’s daughters ran the half-marathon and her grandchildren volunteered for the event.

“It was unbelievable,” Reep said. “What was so exciting about it was that it’s all shapes and sizes, all different speeds.”

Reep’s youngest daughter, Beth Astrup of Fargo, asked her mother and two sisters if they wanted to team up and compete in the relay. Reep, a retired nurse, stays active playing golf and walking on her treadmill, but has never been a runner.

“She’s always very healthy and exercises, but never done anything like this,” said Astrup, 47, an accountant at North Dakota State University.

The other members of the relay team, which goes by the name Team Amy, are Susan Rutherford, 51, of San Diego, and Karen Fischer, 56, who lives in the Detroit area.

“It’s always fun to do things with your kids, even the fact to be asked,” Reep said.

Reep began training in November on her treadmill at home and has worked up to a pace of 4 miles per hour. She now uses the track at the new Williston Area Recreation Center, completing the full 5.5 miles twice a week and shorter distances other days of the week.

“You just have to listen to your body,” Reep said. “I did what I was comfortable doing.”

The team will wear shirts that say “Team Amy” featuring a Norwegian flag, reflecting Reep’s pride in her 100 percent Norwegian heritage. Reep’s husband, Stan, and her son, John, will be on the support crew, getting each runner to the starting point, while other family members cheer on the team.

In addition to celebrating Mother’s Day, the family has another high school graduation party on Sunday. That means that Reep also will be busy this week preparing kransekake, a traditional Norwegian ring cake, to be served at the graduation party.

“I’m so proud of my mom, and my sisters, too,” said Astrup, who will receive the baton from her mom and run the final leg of the 26.2 miles. “What better way to spend Mother’s Day weekend than to do this?”

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