Cousins race to honor grandmotherKelly Rolland Ask of Fargo has no doubt she will finish Grandma’s Marathon Saturday. And when she does, she has a plan.
Kelly Rolland Ask of Fargo has no doubt she will finish Grandma’s Marathon Saturday. And when she does, she has a plan.
“When I finish, I want to strike a pose just like her.”
She was talking about her grandmother, Dagmar “Duds” Satrom of Grand Forks, the “heart and soul” of her family who died last fall at age 90.
She was a vivacious grandmother who never turned down an opportunity for a picture, Kelly said, and one of her “look at me” poses.
Five cousins, including Kelly, will run in red T-shirts Saturday: “26.2 for you” on the front and Duds’ catch phrase, “We’re having fun now!” on the back.
It will be a Grandma’s for Grandma.
“We think of Grandma going above and beyond for her family,” Kelly said. “She was inspiring. This is something to honor her.”
It will be a challenge for Kelly and her husband, Matthew Ask, who have never run 26 miles before. Her brother, Jason Rolland of Los Angeles, and cousins Carrie Christiansen of Oregon, and Charlie Sarracco of Two Harbors, all have marathon experience.
The closest Kelly has come to the real thing was watching Jason and Carrie run the Boston Marathon in April. “That was inspiring,” she said.
No matter the experience, the cousins feel the spirit of their grandmother will be with them to push them along.
She was an active woman until cancer struck in 2008, Jason said. He and his sister grew up in Grand Forks along with Duds. “Up until the end she was unstoppable,” he said. “Always on the go and serving others in any way she could.”
She would have fit in nicely along the North Shore as an avid curler and got her entire family involved in the sport.
Kelly remembers being outside with her brother and seeing Grandma coming down the street in her car. “She’d cruise by on her way to see a friend or delivering another cake,” she said with a laugh building. “She was not the typical older person” creeping along the boulevard. She zoomed by, always on the “go-go-go,” Kelly said.
It’s that spirit that inspired the group to sign up for the marathon. “She is the reason we are running,” Jason said. “She’s the motivation that will drive us through training and to the finish line.”
“She would have loved it,” Kelly said. She and Jason recall her being at all of their activities while in Grand Forks, a constant rooter.
“She attended every dance and piano recital, track meet, softball, baseball, volleyball game and soccer match,” Kelly said. “We know this event won’t be any different. She’ll be there as we cross the finish line in Duluth.”
The marathon novices in Fargo stay in contact with the others when they need running tips or plain inspiration to get out and train. Kelly and Matthew ran the Fargo Half Marathon last month as a warm-up to Saturday’s race.
Going the distance remains a mystery, Kelly said. “My aunt said we should just do the half,” she said. Other family members say she’s “crazy” to take on such a big race so soon. Overall, the family “appreciates what we’re doing,” she said. It makes them happy that the grandkids “aren’t forgetting their grandmother.”
Charlie recently moved to Two Harbors from Duluth and has run Grandma’s twice before. He said the idea to run for Grandma spread through the cousins and “before I knew it, I was involved,” he said.
There will be a large group of extended family cheering the runners along the course.
The emotions will flow, Kelly guarantees, much like they did when the family gathered for Christmas at Grandma’s house last year. It was the first time without “our greatest supporter, cheerleader, and friend,” Jason said.
“She was 90 years young and had lived a full life,” he said, “but that made (her death) no less devastating for any of us.”
“For years we’ve all joked that we’re too sensitive,” Kelly said. “At times we’ve even thought of it as a weakness, joking to her ‘Thanks a lot, Grandma’ when we’d all start crying during a mealtime prayer or Lifetime movie. But I now believe it’s one of my greatest strengths. We care about others with deep and sincere empathy to the point of feeling other’s pain and crying when others hurt. But that just means we have big hearts – and that is not a weakness by any means.”