About Fans

FANS Mission
FANS Volunteers


FANS Ultra Races are a little different from your ordinary race. The fast people and the slow people all start and finish at the same time at FANS. How can we do that? By offering a time-based race rather than a distance-based race. At FANS, you select from 6-hours, 12-hours, or 24-hours.

During the time you select you accumulate miles. You may run, or walk or mix it up however you want. You decide how fast you want to go. You can take a break when you want. You can take a nap if you want. You leave the course and go eat dinner if you want. You change clothes if you want. You stop if you want. All the while, the clock keeps ticking and at the end of the time you selected, your race is over, and so it is for everyone who selected the same amount of time that you did. Everyone deals with the same weather and the same course for the same amount of time. FANS provides real-time results so you always know how many miles you have accumulated.

FANS Ultra Races uses two loop courses. For all but the last hour of your race, you use the almost 2-mile loop around Normandale Lake in Bloomington, MN. In the last hour of the race you have the option of going around the lake again, or converting to short laps that are 1/8th of a mile long. Partial laps (either lake laps or short laps) are not counted in your mileage total. You decide when/if to switch to short laps.

FANS Ultra Races is a nice beginner ultra. The entire course is easily accessible and paved with asphalt. It is easy for your friends/family to come support you because there is an enormous parking lot right next to tent city. They can see you each lap of the lake, not at some way-point buried in the woods. FANS encourages your friends/family to not only cheer for you, but to assist you with food, drink, fresh clothes, etc., including even accompanying you on a few laps of the lake.

FANS Ultra Races provides a primary refreshment station with food, water and Gatorade as well as a secondary refreshment station with water and Gatorade. Even if the weather is hot, there are ample opportunities to top-off your water, food and electrolyte intake.

FANS Ultra Races has on-site medical support. In the event of a medical emergency, there is easy access to the entire course for an ambulance and EMTs. The medical support staff monitors the progress of each participant, hoping to catch common conditions before they become serious.

FANS Mission

FANS (Furthering Achievement Through a Network of Support) is a college and career mentorship program for high school students, specifically working with students of color, recent immigrants, and other groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education.

For more than 30 years, FANS has combined traditional academic tutoring and intensive personal mentorship to ensure that young people in the city of Minneapolis have the support they need to succeed in high school and higher education.

Upon completing the program and graduating from high school, students are eligible for a scholarship to help pay for their continuing education. FANS scholarships are funded entirely by contributions to the FANS Race, and 100% of contributions go directly to students to help cover books, tuition, and other expenses. These contributions have made college a reality for hundreds of young people throughout Minneapolis.

Here is what some of the FANS students have to say:

  • “FANS has helped me prepare for college in many ways. I remember when I first started, I wasn’t really sure about college or what college was, but this program has help me figure out why I need to go to college.” - Zubeda, Roosevelt High School, Class of 2020
  • "When I came to the United States it was difficult for me to go to college because I didn’t know how to write and read in my home language. Now I can say I am bilingual because I know both languages. I’m so grateful that I am studying.” - Osvin, Wellstone International High School, Class of 2020
  • "Ever since I was little, my parents used to talk to me about how important education is to the whole family and the community. This group offers an opportunity for the students. I will be a role model for my younger siblings.” - Faiza, Wellstone International High School, Class of 2020

For more stories from the FANS Class of 2020, visit pillsburyunited.org

FANS Volunteers

Race Director. Bruce Leasure – involved with FANS since 2007 as the walk judge for a United States Centurion badge (walking 100 miles in 24 hours). Since then, it has been a pleasure to welcome walkers from all over the world who come to FANS in quest of their badge. As FANS moved from Lake Nokomis to Ft Snelling to Normandale Lake, my tasks and commitment to FANS grew each year. Somewhere in there, I found out about the FANS Scholars. I really like local charities, and at FANS I could meet the people I was helping. How cool is that. That’s why I stay with FANS.

Race Director. Dave Shannon - involved with FANS since 2011 when I crewed and paced some friends running the 24 Hour Event. Since then I’ve volunteered counting laps and run over 500 miles as a participant. I am an avid runner with over 150 marathon or longer races under my belt. I’m a member of the Twin Cities Running Club, Marathon Maniacs, 50 State Marathon Club, Upper Midwest Trail Runners and the International Streak Runners Association. Both my mother and mother-in-law were educators who had a strong belief in the value of education. The FANS program helps our FANS scholars to incorporate those values into their lives. My participation in the FANS events allows me to pursue both my passion for fun running events and also to help aspiring FANS scholars.

Medical Director. Ann McIntosh - Dr. Ann McIntosh has been an Emergency Medicine physician since 1993. She has practiced in multiple states and countries, striving to have a broad and diverse knowledge of health and medicine. Beyond working in both urban and rural Minnesota, Dr. McIntosh has also practiced in Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, the Navajo Nation and China. Additional she has worked on volunteer projects in Ethiopia, Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Navajo Nation and others. She enjoys adventures and learning about and from other cultures! One of Dr. McIntosh's favorite experiences as a physician was having the opportunity to work in Beijing at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Dr. McIntosh is passionate about serving the community and about health education, empowerment, and advocacy, dedicatedly supporting the community with a weekly health education production. Dr. McIntosh's has served as the FANS race Medical Director since 2021. She is honored to continue supporting the FANS Race, FANS Scholars, and the Pillsbury United Communities.

Technology Director. Chris Heyer - I've been racing at FANS on-and-off since 2011 (my first ultra). I started volunteering a few years later and worked my way up to the lap counting tent where I had a great time admiring everyone's individual effort. I joined the race committee in 2019 to help with the website and have since moved registration, fundraising, results, and live results online with help from Dmitry and Mike. FANS is really special to me because I am able to draw so much inspiration from the racers, volunteers, committee members, PUC team, and the scholars. The FANS race has given me more than I could possibly give and am thankful for all the relationships forged throughout the years. Thank you FANS!

Lead Developer. Dmitry Katkov - involved with FANS since 2021. I am mainly helping with the FANS website and volunteering during the race as a lap counter or timing lead. I am passionate about the cause as I experienced it firsthand when I received an Open Society Scholarship to pursue a master’s degree at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. Getting that scholarship and completing the degree has changed my life forever.

Volunteer & Supply Coordinator. Pat Croal