NEW ULM - A Fairmont woman and former New Ulm resident who immigrated to the U.S. 50 years ago from Ingolstadt, Germany, will celebrate her half century in America with a 50-mile bicycle ride in and around New Ulm on Saturday.
Margot Madsen, widow of former New Ulmite Guenter Albensoeder, plans to meet friends for breakfast at Turner Hall before embarking on a 50-mile bike ride that includes stops at Milford Monument, Harkin Store and other landmarks.
Thanks to the sponsorship of New Ulmites Dr. Ted and Lois Fritsche, Albensoeder came to New Ulm in the late 1950s, seeking a better life than he had in post-war Ulm, Germany.
Margot Albensoeder Hansen began running at 50 and continues to stay physically active at age 74.
Albensoeder managed Benson Optical in New Ulm before he was drafted by the U.S. Army, which stationed him in his hometown of Ulm, Germany, where he met Margot.
He wrote a marriage proposal to Margot while onboard an Army troop transport ship that was crossing the Atlantic near the end of his enlistment. Marriage plans were delayed when Albensoeder was recalled to active duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Stationed in Fort Polk, La., Guenter and Margot waited to marry for a year until he was discharged from the Army again. They wed in August 1962.
The Albensoeders later moved to Iowa and then to the Twin Cities.
Although he survived a quadruple heart bypass at age 42, Guenter died of a heart attack at age 52 in May 1987.
Her husband's death led Margot to begin physical fitness training - a decision that changed her life.
"I was walking on a treadmill in a fitness center when a trainer saw me and asked me why I wasn't running because I had a runner's physique," Margot said. "I began running at age 50."
She completed the Twin Cities Marathon in 3:58.58 in 1990, and qualified for the Boston Marathon. Margot completed nine marathons through 2001.
Still running, biking, snowshoeing, swimming and doing triathlons at 74, she contacted Journal Publisher Bruce Fenske, an old friend, and asked him to create a safe, 50-mile bicycle ride for her.
"It's about me being happy I'm in America and to honor those that brought me here and befriended me," Margot said about her Saturday bike ride. "I'm grateful, healthy and happy."
For the past 18 years, Margot has been married to Fairmont attorney Mark Madsen.
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org).