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Branna MacDougall joins Silvia Ruegger as the only Canadian woman to run under 2:29:00 before the age of 25

On the shores of Lake Superior in Duluth, Minn., Canada’s rising marathon star, Branna MacDougall, ran a five-minute personal best of 2:28:36 to place fifth at the 2022 Grandma’s Marathon. Her time is one minute under the world marathon standard of 2:29:30 and the seventh-fastest ever among Canadian women.

(First photo) Branna MacDougall of Kingston, Ont., approaches the finish line at the Muskoka Half-Marathon in 2020. 

Although MacDougall had only tackled the marathon distance once before, she ran the race like a seasoned veteran. She negative split the second half of the race in 1:14:13, moving up to fifth from seventh place. Her first marathon, last fall, was in Muskoka, Ont., where she ran a solo 2:33:40.

MacDougall, 23, had a prolific cross-country career at Iowa State University and Queen’s University, winning the U Sports team title in 2019. Since then, she has continued her training in Kingston under former Queen’s coach Steve Boyd and Physi-Kult.

U.S. marathoner Dakota Lindwurm become the first Minnesotan to successfully defend her title, winning in a personal best time of 2:25:01, which is four minutes faster than her previous winning time of 2:29:04. 

Sarah Sellers, who finished second at the Boston Marathon in 2018, and school teacher Susanna Sullivan of the U.S., rounded out the top three in 2:25:43 and 2:26:56, respectively.

MacDougall’s time is the second-fastest time by a Canadian woman this year, only behind Malindi Elmore’s 2:27:56 at the 2022 Boston Marathon. Although MacDougall’s time is under the 2022 world championship standard, the qualification period closed on May 29 and Canada’s team has already been named.

The 2022 Commonwealth Games qualification window closed on June 19, therefore, there’s a chance MacDougall could be selected to represent Canada in Birmingham, U.K., or considered for the 2023 World Championships in Budapest.

(06/20/2022) Views: 152 ⚡AMP
by Running Magazine
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Grandma’s Marathon Reaches First Sellout Since 2016

Grandma’s Marathon organizers said on Monday that all three of its June races have sold out for the first time since 2016.

In total, there are more than 20,000 people signed up to participate.

The sell-out is a healthy sign that the demand for the races never went away, after Grandma’s Marathon was cancelled because of the pandemic in 2020, and only ran at half-capacity last year.

“This will be one of the biggest fields ever for Grandma’s Marathon,” Shane Bauer, the executive director of Grandma’s Marathon, said in a press release. “That’s a great thing coming out of a pandemic, especially considering our organization’s mission around health and wellness. The economic impact of our event on the region gets a lot of attention, and it should. Really, though, the immeasurable impacts on each individual involved – from both a physical and mental standpoint – we think should be talked about more.”

The organization says that the marathon and its other Grandma’s-branded races draw in about $21 million for Duluth and nearby cities.

Grandma’s Marathon events kick off on June 16th and run through the 18th.

(05/31/2022) Views: 143 ⚡AMP
by Alexandra Burnley
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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46th Grandma’s Marathon Surpasses 20,000 Racers

With just 6 weeks left till the 46th annual Grandma’s Marathon, its crunch time to get the final pieces put together before thousands of racers take off on June 18th.

This year the race returned to full capacity and as of Wednesday morning, registration passed 20,000 racers which means it’s on track to being one of the largest Grandma’s races in history.

A modification that was created last year to accommodate covid, which was the post-race entertainment at Bayfront Festival Park, is returning due to its success and staff is anticipating a busy weekend.

“There’s only a couple hundred spots in total left in any of the three races and that’s exciting and when we hit a sellout, this will be the first time since 2016 that we can say all three races, all the events for the weekend are sold out for participants and so it’s going to be a big weekend and it’s going to be fun,” Zach Schneider, Director Of PR And Marketing for Grandma’s Marathon said.

Registration for the races is still open while spaces are, or until June 1st, whichever comes first, and Grandma’s is also looking for more volunteers to help out on race weekend.

(05/12/2022) Views: 160 ⚡AMP
by Natalie Noury
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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2022 Grandma's Marathon registration opens on Friday

Registration for the 2022 Grandma's Marathon opens on Friday (Oct. 1) as organizers plan for a full-capacity event for the first time in three years.

The 2022 race weekend is scheduled for June 16-18, with room for 9,000 entries for Grandma’s Marathon, 8,000 for the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, and 2,700 entries for the William A. Irvin 5K.

Registration for all three weekend races is first-come, first-served and will open at 7 p.m. Central time on Friday. Registrants for the full marathon pay $120 until Oct. 16; the price goes up $10 on that day and again on Jan. 1, 2022 and April 1.

The half marathon has a $110 registration fee and follows a similar structure. The William A. Irvin 5K starts at $40, goes up to $45 on Oct. 16 and is $50 after Jan. 1. A virtual option for $35 is available for that race.

The cancelation policy for the 2022 race will mirror that of 2021: If the event is switched to a virtual format due to COVID-19, registered in-person participants will receive a 40% discount code that can be used three times from 2023-27 for any of the weekend events.

(09/28/2021) Views: 370 ⚡AMP
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Grandma's Marathon Wins Top Honors in Statewide Readers' Choice Awards Program

Grandma’s Marathon has been named a gold medal winner in the state’s premier Readers’ Choice Awards program, Minnesota’s Best, it was announced today.

Grandma’s was voted the state’s top annual sports event or race in the inaugural “best of” program, which was put together by the Star Tribune to celebrate the many businesses, organizations, and individuals that make Minnesota a great place to live, work, and play.

“We’re certainly honored and humbled by this recognition, but this is an award that belongs to our entire community,” Marketing & Public Relations Director Zach Schneider said. “Our race is a reflection of our volunteers, sponsors, and community partners who work tirelessly throughout the year to create a special event each June for our more than 20,000 participants. Clearly their efforts are appreciated and have not gone unnoticed. We are proud to accept this award on their behalf and look forward to living up to that ‘gold medal’ billing in 2022.”

More than 525,000 votes were cast in this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards program, with 5,700 different entities across the state competing for the top three spots in 300+ award categories.

For a full list of the 2021 Star Tribune Readers’ Choice Award winners, please visit votedminnesotasbest.com.

The 2022 Grandma’s Marathon weekend will be held Thursday-Saturday, June 16-18. Registration for the weekend’s three races – Grandma’s Marathon, Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, and William A. Irvin 5K – will open at 7:00 p.m. CT on October 1, 2021.

If you have any questions or for any interview requests, please contact Marketing & Public Relations Director Zach Schneider via email at zach@grandmasmarathon.com or via phone at (218) 343-9874.

ABOUT GRANDMA’S MARATHON

Grandma’s Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. Grandma’s Marathon weekend draws approximately 20,000 participants for its three-race event each June.

The race got its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma’s Restaurants, the first major sponsor of the Marathon. Over time, the level of sponsorship with the restaurants changed, but the name stayed the same. Grandma’s Marathon-Duluth, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization with a 17-member Board of Directors and a nine-person, full-time staff.

(08/27/2021) Views: 412 ⚡AMP
by Running USA
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Grandma's Marathon had successful weekend, but faces large deficit

Executive Director Shane Bauer said the organization is expecting to end the fiscal year with a loss of $500,000 to $600,000.

Due to the cancellation of events last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the number of entries being cut in half, the Grandma’s Marathon organization is anticipating a large deficit by the end of the fiscal year.

Executive Director Shane Bauer expects that deficit to be $500,000-$600,000. The last time the 501(c)(3) organization ended with a deficit was in 2014 and it was only around $7,000, according to 990 forms filed by Grandma’s Marathon.

“Over the last six years, leading up to last year’s cancellation due to the pandemic, we’ve had one of the most successful runs in the entire history of the event,” Bauer said. “So we had built up a decent enough reserve where we didn’t let any employees go or furlough anyone, which we were super-proud to be able to do as an organization.”

Bauer said the organization’s biggest revenues are race entries and sponsorship money. Sponsors stepped up in a big way this year, but race entries were capped at 50%, he said.

“Our registration revenue is far and above what we need to be able to put on the race for the runners,” Bauer said. “When they sign up we immediately start using that to organize the race, and I think that’s one of the big reasons it has the reputation it does for being so highly organized.

“Cut that in half and that’s what we have to work with," Bauer said. "But we’re not going to sacrifice the quality or the reputation of Grandma’s Marathon.”

Bauer said by canceling the race last year and holding it in a virtual format, the organization ended the 2020 fiscal year in the positive because most of the loss incurred for the cancellation ended up in the current fiscal year.

Any runner that was registered when the races were canceled last year was given a 40% discount on one entry fee to be used either this year or next year.

“We knew we would have come out way ahead if we would have just canceled the event this year, but there was no way we were going to do that,” Bauer said.

If the races were canceled again this year, runners registered at the time of the cancellation would have been given three 40% discounts to use over the next five years, which would have cost the organization even more money in the future.

"Despite the loss for this year, I think we'll be in a good position going into next year to start building (our reserve) back up again," Bauer said.

Bauer said the decision to move forward with the events this year was made with the Duluth community in mind.

“We knew we were going to be a very important event for the future of our industry and to get things going back in a safe running direction, and for the community, too,” he said. “Once we announced we were going to hold our event with the COVID-19 mitigation plan in place, we really started seeing other announcements of events in the area and concerts at Bayfront.”

The fiscal year ends Sept. 30 and registration for Grandma’s Marathon 2022 opens Oct. 1. Before then Grandma’s Marathon will be hosting its Park Point 5-Miler on July 5 and the Minnesota Mile on Sept. 10. Both of these events will allow full capacity and won't include staggered starts.

The Park Point 5-Miler has a capacity of 900 in-person entries and the Minnesota Mile has a capacity of 500. Bauer said they don’t sell out of entries for those races, but if they could somehow achieve that this year, it would really help mitigate their losses.

“It’s the 50th Park Point 5-Miler this year, so it’s a big anniversary year for the oldest road race in northern Minnesota,” Bauer said. “So it's going to be fun.”

A few changes were made this year to the events over the weekend to help with COVID-19 mitigation. One of the most noticeable was the use of Bayfront Festival Park.

Bayfront was used as the start and finish for the William A. Irvin 5K, so participants could spread out more before and after the race. It was also used as the venue for the Grandma’s Marathon "Big Top" concerts.

In the past, the "Big Top" concerts were held in a parking lot in Canal Park, but to allow people more space to spread out it was moved to Bayfront, and the feedback was great, said Zach Schneider, Grandma’s Marathon marketing and public relations director.

“Bayfront seemed like a big hit with both our participants and the community,” Schneider said.

Schneider said the organization is going to get together as a group and debrief on how this year went and that the use of Bayfront in the future would definitely be a part of the conversation.

“It’s a beautiful venue, obviously, and a venue that’s built for essentially exactly what we want to use it for during Grandma’s Marathon weekend,” he said. “I think it moves people out of the finish line area in a way that eases some of the congestion that we normally see with Grandma’s Marathon, so it’s certainly going to be discussed.”

Bayfront Festival Park Director Jeff Stark said there were an estimated 10,000-15,000 people total at Bayfront on Friday and Saturday. Stark said he also heard many positive comments about the setup and use of Bayfront over the weekend. Though, Stark said, they did hear from some marathon runners that “they felt like they were walking a marathon to get over there.”

“For the most part, it was a positive, warm reception,” he said. “I would hope (Grandma’s Marathon) would seriously consider keeping its events there.”

(06/23/2021) Views: 415 ⚡AMP
by Adele Whitefoot
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Missouri man returns for another ‘Grandma’s Double,’ running the course twice in one day

The first 25-26 miles are “the easy ones,” said Eric Strand, 60. “Then you have the benefit of aid stations, the crowd and fellow runners to commiserate with on the way back. It’s a fun way to get a training run in.”

Before runners hit the starting line, before volunteers set up aid stations and before the sun rises, Eric Strand is running Grandma’s Marathon.

Backwards. And then back again.

The “Grandma’s Double” is a long-running tradition for Strand. 

About 3 a.m. on race day, his wife drops him off in Canal Park. He runs 26.2 miles to Two Harbors — and joins the other marathoners for Round 2.

The first 25-26 miles are “the easy ones,” said Strand, 60. “Then you have the benefit of aid stations, the crowd and fellow runners to commiserate with on the way back. It’s a fun way to get a training run in.”

It started as a way to prepare for the 100-mile Leadville Trail ultramarathon. Grandma’s landed on a weekend that Strand needed to get in a 50-mile run. Instead of spreading it out, he decided to pack it into one day. 

“It was very interesting running the course backwards, especially when the bars had people filing out. You had an interesting crowd," Strand said in a 2012 News Tribune story.

Strand gets to see things other marathoners don’t: the race course waking up and volunteers getting ready, and some of the aid station captains are there every year. 

He has heard his fair share from passersby about going the wrong way, and it happens even more now. 

“They've all learned their lines,” he said with a laugh.

The Missouri man, formerly of St. Paul, grew up hearing about Grandma’s, but on New Year’s Eve before his 40th birthday, he registered for it.

He trained for six months and made every mistake. 

“There’s euphoria. You hit new distance markers … you get this in your mind that you are invincible. The next day, you wake up, and you have plantar fasciitis or shin splints or your knee hurts, and you very quickly realize you aren't,” Strand said.

But you slow down, heal up, maybe bike for a while and you get back to running, he added. 

Strand recalled the end of his first Grandma’s Marathon: “As I was enjoying the runner’s high, my kids reminded me that there were three 70-year-olds that beat me that day. It brought me down to earth; they’re really good at doing that.”

Strand said tying training into a race is one way to make it fun. He averages about 2,500 miles a year; that’s typically 7 miles a day, but sometimes, it’s 100 miles at a time.

Strand ran his first five Grandma’s Doubles solo, save for one year with Ben McCaux. Since then, he has been joined by his son, Zach. 

They’ve tackled the Double three times; they ran their first father-son Leadville 100 in 2017. 

In a 2017 video of the latter, the pair are seen trekking across Colorado terrain. 

“Zach’s doing great,” Eric Strand says into the camera. “He’s fun to run with. As long as he keeps his fueling and hydration in good shape, he’s down for a buckle.”

They have tallied 25 marathons and ultramarathons together. 

“He’s better than me now, which he’s quick to point out,” he said.

During training, Strand mostly listens to audiobooks, but, if he needs motivation, there’s Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus — music his kids listened to when they were teens. 

As for his powerhouse song, that’s Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.”

He doesn’t listen to anything during races; he likes to interact with others.

His race-day eats were pretty standard: Gatorade and gels; but for ultramarathons, his wife brings him a cheeseburger at mile 50. 

Saturday will be his 22nd Grandma’s Marathon — his 10th Grandma’s Double — and there’s no end in sight. 

There’s a cadence to the year — the Boston Marathon in April, Leadville in August, Chicago in October, a mix of others — but June will always be Duluth.

“There will be a day when I won’t be able to do this,” Strand said, “but it’s not today, and hopefully won’t be for a long time. I hope to enjoy it as long as I can.”

(06/16/2021) Views: 463 ⚡AMP
by Melinda Lavine
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Grandma’s Marathon founder Scott Keenan has published a new book documenting his journey of bringing the event from just 150 runners in 1977 to one of the most respected road race in USA

My Journey to Grandma’s Marathon: History and Heroes focuses on the people involved in bringing Grandma’s Marathon to prominence, ranging from early champions like Garry Bjorklund and Dick Beardsley to longtime journalists who covered the race like Kevin Pates.

Keenan, who spoke about his book on the “Gearing Up for Grandma’s” podcast, admitted the writing process came with challenges, but he thought it necessary to chronicle the evolution of the event and recognize lots of the people responsible.

“We had to do something special back then. We had to invite the world to Grandma’s Marathon, and we did,” he said. “We had the great race course, the great location, we just needed the organization to put on a good race. It was very important to me to try and take running to a new level in the Duluth area, and I’m so proud of what’s been built with Grandma’s Marathon.”

The full “Gearing Up for Grandma’s” video podcast featuring Keenan will debut as part of the virtual 2021 Essentia Health Fitness Expo at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 17.

During Keenan’s tenure, Grandma’s Marathon grew to be one of the largest marathons in the country and now welcomes more than 20,000 runners to Duluth and the surrounding region each year. The race also played host to nine national championships, something he points to as one of his proudest moments during his time with the race.

The book costs $17.99 and can be bought online at scottkeenanbooks.com. A portion of all proceeds will go to benefit the Young Athletes Foundation (YAF), which is the charitable piece of Grandma’s Marathon that provides money and resources to local youth organizations to help keep the area’s kids active and healthy.

Keenan, who served as the race’s executive director for 37 years before retiring in 2013, will also be selling and signing copies of his new book during this year’s in-person Essentia Health Fitness Expo on race weekend. He will be available from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Friday, June 18 in Pioneer Hall at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC).

(06/15/2021) Views: 422 ⚡AMP
by Running USA
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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American Record Holder and former United States Olympian Alan Webb is set to Run Grandma's Marathon

Once, and perhaps still, a household name in short-distance running, former United States Olympian Alan Webb will make his 26.2-mile debut later this month at the 2021 Grandma’s Marathon.

Webb, who still owns the American record in the mile with a time of 3:46.91, competed in the 2004 Athens Olympics in the 1500-meters and also won three gold medals at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Now an assistant cross country and track and field coach at the University of Arkansas Little Rock, he says the timing is right to try the longer distance.

“I’ve always heard good things about Duluth and about Grandma’s Marathon,” Webb said. “I’m not so much running now to be competitive, I’m running because I love to do it and because of what the sport has meant to me my whole life. The timing of Grandma’s works well for my coaching schedule, and I’m excited to come to Minnesota and to run on this beautiful course.”

Webb made his half marathon debut on May 29 at the Great American River Run in Memphis, Tenn., finishing in fourth place with a time of 1:13:14.

Webb and his wife, Julia, are currently living in Little Rock, Ark. and have three children.

The 45th annual Grandma’s Marathon weekend will be held June 17-19, 2021. 

(06/08/2021) Views: 540 ⚡AMP
by Running USA
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Grandma’s Marathon will bring back celebration of spectators

A loosening of the state’s public health guidelines, announced recently by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, has paved the way for the return of two traditional and popular pieces of Grandma’s Marathon weekend.

The 45th annual Grandma’s Marathon weekend will be held June 17-19, 2021.

Based on the governor’s expected timeline of eliminating capacity limits and distancing requirements, organizers say they will now be able to welcome spectators on race weekend and host a post-race celebration.

“Those things were crossed off pretty early in our planning process based on the previous guidelines, and the result was going to be a very different feeling come race weekend” executive director Shane Bauer said. “Bringing those pieces back will not only amplify the experience of our participants, but it’s great for our community members who wait all year to be part of Grandma’s Marathon weekend."

Spectators were originally discouraged from attending this year’s Grandma’s Marathon, but the updated guidance will now allow those who wish to watch the races to do so.

The post-race celebration will be in a new location this year, moving from near the finish line in Canal Park to Bayfront Festival Park. Live musical acts will be featured throughout race day, and admission will be free for all ages in celebration of the 45th anniversary of Grandma’s Marathon.

Amid the excitement of what the new guidelines allow, organizers want to remind anyone planning on participating, volunteering, or attending Grandma’s Marathon that personal responsibility will still play a major role in the weekend’s overall success.

Masks or face coverings, according to the expected guidelines, will be required in all race-controlled areas with more than 500 people in attendance.

Organizers expect that to include the start and finish areas, Bayfront Festival Park, the Michelina’s All-You-Can-Eat Spaghetti Dinner, and the Essentia Health Fitness Expo.

As in the originally released plan, participants will not be required to wear a mask or face covering while actively participating in their race.

Five local groups will take the stage at Bayfront Festival Park on Saturday, June 19 as part of the 45th annual Grandma’s Marathon weekend.

The all-day celebration, which is free and open to all ages, was moved to Bayfront this year from its traditional place near the finish line in Canal Park.

(06/07/2021) Views: 405 ⚡AMP
by Aitkin Age
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Three former champions return to highlight 2021 Grandma's Marathon field

Kongin, Kiptoo, and Myers Could Join Prestigious Group of Repeat Winners at Duluth Race, former champions are expected to be on the starting line for the 2021 Grandma’s Marathon and will have the chance to join some very rare company if they can add another victory to their running resume.

Defending men’s champion Boniface Kongin is slated to return after outdueling the field in 2019, running a 2:11:56 to beat out four-time champion Elisha Barno and event record holder Dominic Ondoro. Kongin ran much of that 2019 race in record pace, but he was slowed in the final 10K as he dealt with severe cramping.

Not only will the Kenya native try to become the first back-to-back men’s winner at Grandma’s Marathon since Barno won the first two of his four titles in 2015-16, he would be just the seventh man to win multiple Grandma’s Marathons titles.

Sarah Kiptoo is also expected to return this year, and she will be trying to join Mary Akor (2007-09) and Lorraine Moller (1979-81) as the only three-time women’s winners of Grandma’s Marathon. The Kenya native won titles in 2013 and 2016 and also finished third in 2014 and 2015. She finished 10th the last time out on this course in 2019, finishing with a time of 2:38:46.

Kiptoo’s 2013 winning time of 2:26:32 was then an event record and only recently broken when Kellyn Taylor ran a 2:24:28 in 2018.

2014 champion Pasca Myers is also expected to compete in the women’s elite field, and she will be trying to become just the eighth woman to win at least two Grandma’s Marathon titles. She also ran here in 2019, finishing in eighth place with a time of 2:36:13.

With a reduced field for the 2021 Grandma’s Marathon, there are 29 men and 29 women expected to be in the elite field on Saturday, June. 19. The 45th annual Grandma’s Marathon is scheduled to start at 7:45 a.m. and can be followed live on our radio and TV partners, The Northland FAN 106.5 FM and WDIO-TV.

For more information, please call our office at (218) 727-0947 or visit grandmasmarathon.com.

(06/03/2021) Views: 475 ⚡AMP
by Running USA
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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2021 Grandma's Marathon announces post race concert

Five local groups will take the stage at Bayfront Festival Park on Saturday, June 19 as part of the 45th annual Grandma’s Marathon weekend, it was announced today.

The all-day celebration, which is free and open to all ages, was moved to Bayfront this year from its traditional place near the finish line in Canal Park. Rock-a-Billy-Revue will kick the off the live show at 9:00 a.m. Saturday and be followed throughout the day by Boxcar, Whiskey Trail, and Big Wave Dave & The Ripples.

“The past year has been extremely tough for so many in Duluth and our surrounding communities, and we feel very fortunate and honored to have received such generous support through the years,” Finance & Operations Director Linda Hanson said. “This is an opportunity not just to celebrate a job well done but also to provide a huge thank you to everyone who has ever been part of Grandma’s Marathon. There is no doubt we would not be here without each and every one of them.”

Participants in both Grandma’s Marathon and the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon will receive a free drink ticket after completing their race, and those tickets can be redeemed all day Saturday at Bayfront Festival Park. Beverages will be provided by Superior Beverages & Coca-Cola, and food will be provided by Famous Dave’s.

Bayfront Festival Park will be open from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 19. Sounds Unlimited will play music between sets, and a full lineup of the day’s live music is below:

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Rock-a-Billy Revue

12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Boxcar

3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Big Wave Dave & The Ripples

5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. – Whiskey Trail

7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. – Big Wave Dave & The Ripples

Boxcar will also play a live set on Friday, June 18 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. following the 27th annual William A. Irvin 5K, which will start and finish for the first time this year in Bayfront Festival Park. Admission for that show is also free and open to all ages.

The musical lineup is one of several pieces Grandma’s Marathon has added back into its 2021 weekend plan following the recent loosening of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions. Another significant change will be that masks or face coverings will no longer be required, though still strongly encouraged, through most parts of the weekend’s events.

“Grandma’s Marathon is a large event that is still going to attract people from all over the country, from all different walks of life, and potentially with many different comfort levels,” Marketing & Public Relations Director Zach Schneider said. “We want everyone involved to feel as comfortable and as safe as possible, so we encourage everyone to take proper precautions in terms of masks and distancing even in areas it’s not technically required by the guidance.”

The only area where masks or face coverings will still be required is on the shuttle bus before and after the race, in keeping with current public transportation guidelines.

(05/20/2021) Views: 441 ⚡AMP
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Grandma´s Marathon can now welcome back spectators for this year’s race

A loosening of the state’s public health guidelines, announced last week by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, has paved the way for the return of two traditional and popular pieces of Grandma’s Marathon weekend.

Based on the Governor’s expected timeline of eliminating capacity limits and distancing requirements, organizers say they will now be able to welcome spectators on race weekend and host a post-race celebration.

“Those things were crossed off pretty early in our planning process based on the previous guidelines, and the result was going to be a very different feeling come race weekend” Executive Director Shane Bauer said. “Bringing those pieces back will not only amplify the experience of our participants, but it’s great for our community members who wait all year to be part of Grandma’s Marathon weekend.”

Spectators were originally discouraged from attending this year’s Grandma’s Marathon, but the updated guidance will now allow those who wish to watch the races to do so.

“It’s great to be adding that community aspect back into our plans for June,” Race Director Greg Haapala said. “That said, we will be keeping some of the mitigation tactics in place to help keep some of those large groups from forming, and we ask that everyone who does attend is mindful and respectful of others.”

The post-race celebration will be in a new location this year, moving from near the finish line in Canal Park to Bayfront Festival Park. Live musical acts will be featured throughout race day, and admission will be free for all ages in celebration of the 45th anniversary of Grandma’s Marathon.

“The move to Bayfront is an exciting change for this year’s Grandma’s Marathon,” Finance & Operations Director Linda Hanson said. “It’s a great Duluth venue built for the very thing we want to do – come together and celebrate with our participants, our many partners, and our community that supports us year round. To be given the opportunity to bring this event back into our planning means so much because it’s not only a tradition, it’s how we say thank you to everyone for a job well done.”

Amid the excitement of what the new guidelines allow, organizers want to remind anyone planning on participating, volunteering, or attending Grandma’s Marathon that personal responsibility will still play a major role in the weekend’s overall success.

“This is still a large event that involves people from all over the country, from all different walks of life, and potentially with many different comfort levels,” Marketing & Public Relations Director Zach Schneider said. “We want everyone involved to feel as comfortable and as safe as possible, so we encourage everyone to take proper precautions in terms of masks and distancing even in areas it’s not technically required by the guidance.”

It’s expected that Grandma’s Marathon will be one of the country’s first major running events to return following the COVID-19 pandemic, so plenty of eyes will be on Duluth this June.

“This is our chance to do a really big thing and do it well,” Schneider said. “We want people to enjoy themselves, to feel safe, and to say good things about our race and our community when they leave here. Grandma’s was built on the idea of community coming together, and we need that in a different but critically important way this year.”

Masks or face coverings, according to the expected guidelines, will be required in all race-controlled areas with more than 500 people in attendance. Organizers expect that to include the start and finish areas, Bayfront Festival Park, the Michelina’s All-You-Can-Eat Spaghetti Dinner, and the Essentia Health Fitness Expo.

As in the originally released plan, participants will not be required to wear a mask or face covering while actively participating in their race.

The 45th annual Grandma’s Marathon weekend will be held June 17-19, 2021.

(05/11/2021) Views: 379 ⚡AMP
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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2021 Grandma's Marathon receives green light for 45th annual marathon plus half marathon and 5K, races will be held as scheduled

The 45th annual Grandma’s Marathon weekend has received the green light for June, which comes as Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced Thursday a loosening of the state’s public health guidelines.

“This is a great day not just for Grandma’s Marathon but for our community as well,” Executive Director Shane Bauer said. “So many people had a hand in making this event a reality this year, and to be here today with the final approval is a testament to the effort everyone’s put in. Our staff can’t thank our state and local partners enough for their tireless work, and we look forward to once again welcoming our participants to the unofficial kickoff to summer in Duluth.”

Grandma’s Marathon and the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon are scheduled for Saturday, June 19, with the William A. Irvin 5K being run the night before.

“I am so excited to welcome Grandma’s Marathon back to the streets of Duluth,” Duluth Mayor Emily Larson added. “Last year many of us participated in Grandma’s virtual races — I loved the flexibility Grandma’s awarded us as runners, but it’s just not the same as the Canal Park finish. It’s truly one of my favorite days in the year. We are thrilled to welcome runners back to Duluth and participate in a safe and well-planned event.”

While the updated state guidelines provide a clear path forward for the 2021 Grandma’s Marathon, organizers say more specific updates as to how they will change the current race weekend plan will be announced in the coming days.

(05/07/2021) Views: 395 ⚡AMP
by News Tribune
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Grandma's Marathon announces changes to the 2021 race weekend

Rolling start, elimination of viewing areas among the alterations for half-capacity event.

Grandma’s Marathon officials announced Tuesday several changes to the 2021 race weekend, including discouraging large crowd gatherings and the cancellation of the post-race celebration.

The 45th annual marathon, the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon and the William A. Irvin 5K races already had been limited to 50% capacity in compliance with Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 protocols.

Additional operational changes such as a rolling start, social distancing and health screenings are planned as are alterations in pre-race activities.

“We basically had to redesign every aspect of Grandma’s Marathon weekend,” Executive Director Shane Bauer said in a news release. “There’s lots of work still left to get this thing across the finish line, and we couldn’t be more thankful for our municipal and community partners. We know what it felt like to not have the race, and that wasn’t fun. The amount of time, effort, and cooperation that’s gone into planning this 2021 race is phenomenal. It will be a great achievement for the entire area if and when we pull it off.”

Race organizers are continuing discussions with state and local authorities but say final approval for the June 17-19 event still has not been given.

“We’re announcing this now not because we’ve been given the green light, but because we’re a little more than two months out and we believe our current registrants and the community deserve to know where we stand on some of the bigger planning items,” Marketing & Public Relations Director Zach Schneider said in the release.

Operating at half capacity of a traditional year, organizers plan to use a modified transportation schedule and rolling start process to help create adequate space between participants on the race course.

“The runner experience from start to finish is going to be a bit different this year,” Race Director Greg Haapala said in a statement. “Participants might board the bus at a different location or time, and there won’t be the usual mass start, but our crowd science models show those are the things that will reduce density throughout the day and promotes social distancing. So much of this depends on personal responsibility, and we’re confident everyone involved can and will act appropriately.”

Masks or face coverings will be required throughout the weekend event, except while actively participating in a race. That includes the weekend’s ancillary events such as the Fitness Expo and spaghetti dinner, which will be held in a modified fashion.

“We had to rethink the entire layout of those events, using more and different space on the DECC campus so we can accommodate everything,” Registration & Expo Director Laura Bergen said in the release. “From reduced capacities to one-way traffic patterns, every change we’ve made is in the interest of continuing to provide a great experience while keeping our participants and the community as safe as possible.”

Per current Department of Health guidelines, spectators are discouraged from any large gatherings on race weekend. Most traditional viewing spots in downtown Duluth and Canal Park will be unavailable this year, according to the release.

The traditional “Rock the Big Top” celebration in Canal Park also is cancelled.

“Those things hurt because the people are such a big piece of the atmosphere that makes Grandma’s Marathon special,” Schneider said in the release. “To ask supporters to stay home is not what we want, but it is what’s necessary so we can have the race and be good stewards of our community at the same time.”

(04/21/2021) Views: 462 ⚡AMP
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Duluth´s Lakewalk to reopen by Grandma’s Marathon

Duluth has finished reconstructing the boardwalk portion of its popular Lakewalk, but people should not be tempted to use the fenced-off stretch of path running toward Canal Park quite yet, warned Mike LeBeau, construction project manager.

“That section of the Lakewalk remains a construction site that’s closed to the public. We need people to stay off it and stay safe,” he said.

Favorable weather has enabled crews to make quicker progress on the project than anticipated, and LeBeau referred to the work as “probably about 95% done.” But he said grading, landscaping and the installation of a paved asphalt path for wheeled traffic still awaits.

LeBeau said the project is fully on track to meet the goal of reopening before Grandma’s Marathon, June 19.

The Lakewalk was badly damaged by back-to-back storms that undermined the path, leaving holes in it up to 3 feet deep after an October 2018 battering.

Since then, more than $16 million has been invested in efforts to bolster the shoreline and rebuild a path through Canal Park that would be less susceptible to future damage. A combination of state, federal and local funding have all been brought to bear on this Phase 3 of the restoration project.

To lessen the pounding the Lakewalk receives from storms, LeBeau described the revetment that has been installed, beginning with 10- to 12-ton toe stones, many of them the size of an automobile, that were dug into the lake bottom roughly 30 feet from the water’s edge. These base reinforcements then were backfilled toward shore with what LeBeau described as filter stone and core stone topped by two layers of armor stone.

Finally, an 18-inch-thick concrete wall was installed, with the top lip of that structure sitting about 2 feet above the surface of the newly constructed Lakewalk.

The Lakewalk, too, has been elevated about 3 feet above its original level.

“We know that waves will still break over the top in really big storms. But it’s a matter of protecting the Lakewalk, so the wave energy won’t undermine it again,” LeBeau said.

In addition to building a more resilient Lakewalk, the city is significantly enlarging it. The original 6-foot width of the boardwalk will grow to 10 feet, and the paved trail will go from 7 to 12 feet wide.

LeBeau explained that the city enlarged the Lakewalk in recognition of its current popularity and in anticipation that the volume of users it accommodates will continue to grow.

(03/25/2021) Views: 472 ⚡AMP
by Peter Passi
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Grandma's Marathon will become one of first big races in COVID era

All eyes in the international running community are looking at Grandma's Marathon, which is poised to be one of the largest in-person races held since the COVID-19 outbreak.

Organizers of the Duluth event, scheduled for June 17-19, have teamed up with world experts on crowd control to devise a plan to safely host 9,500 runners signed up to compete in the marathon, half-marathon and 5K races.

"We're all basically looking at Duluth," said Marcel Altenburg, a crowd scientist at the U.K.'s Manchester Metropolitan University who has studied the flow of the world's largest marathons in places like London, Berlin, Chicago and New York.

The OUC Orlando Half Marathon hosted 1,700 runners in December, but planners of Grandma's Marathon believe it will be the first race of its size since the pandemic's onset.

Altenburg is using crowd science software developed around the world's biggest races to help Grandma's organizers ensure that participants and volunteers can stay socially distant. He uses technology like Google Earth and Google Maps to model the course and then inputs past results to simulate the event.

Altenburg found that if Grandma's staggers its starting line properly, each runner should be able to have at least 12 feet of separation from others at any given moment.

"All in all, it was 9.6 million calculations in order to literally check every single overtaking that happens on the course," he said.

Greg Haapala, Grandma's Marathon race director, said there are still lots of uncertainties surrounding the June event. He and others are in the midst of conversations with the state about changing public health guidelines so that races can have more than 250 people on a course at once.

"We're sort of trying to work on this math problem together so that we can bring the data to the state to help show that we think this can be done in a safe manner if all the elements are right," Haapala said.

Organizers said runners will be bused in groups of 25 to the starting line, where they will be released in waves of five. Anyone who is not actively running the race must wear a mask, and spectators will likely not be allowed.

Registrations for Grandma's 2021 races filled up in December, after organizers announced the event would be capped at half capacity. Last year's race was canceled for the first time in its 44-year history.

"We really focus on the mission of our organization, which is getting people active and keeping people healthy," Haapala said. "Events often are the motivational factor that keep people [going] after their goal."

The Duluth event is the 12th largest marathon in the country and one of the few races in the summer. Many of the most popular spring contests — like the Boston Marathon and the London Marathon — have postponed their 2021 races to the fall.

(03/04/2021) Views: 523 ⚡AMP
by Katie Galioto
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Grandma's Marathon has partnered with Crowd Science Expert in Planning 2021 Event

Grandma’s Marathon-Duluth, Inc. has partnered with world-renowned crowd scientist Marcel Altenburg of Manchester Metropolitan University to optimize the event’s participant flow as part of the organization’s COVID-modified race plan.

Altenburg has previously worked with larger marathons like London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York as well as other major marathons around the world. He has developed crowd science software called Start Right, which uses a unique mathematical algorithm to help race organizers visualize, predict, and control the flow of participants throughout the entire race.

“Grandma’s Marathon is unique in its setup and all measurements of the event are very fortunate,” Altenburg said. “With the right adjustments, this race can be organized with social distance in the place at the start, through the course, and at the finish.”

Grandma’s Marathon is planning a half capacity event, including but not limited to the following changes on race day:

·         Bus Transportation – Buses to the start line for the marathon and half marathon will allow a maximum of 25 participants, and all public transit safety guidelines will be in place. Participants will exit buses in a controlled fashion to ensure there is always adequate space in the start corral.

·         Rolling Start Line – Participants will enter a start corral for both the marathon and half marathon, which will be spaced to allow for appropriate social distancing. Once in the corral, participants will immediately advance toward the start line. Participants will then be released from separated lanes in staggered fashion, five at a time, to control the flow onto the racecourse.

·         Masks & Face Coverings – All participants, volunteers, staff, and others present will be required to wear a mask or face covering at all times other than while actively participating in a race. This includes but is not limited to on the bus, in the start corral, and after crossing the finish line.

Altenburg’s analysis of the current plan, with the above safety measures included, shows a decreased density that allows for a minimum of 12 or more feet of spacing between participants at all times during the race. In general, participants will have 20 feet of possible distance to other people at most points on the racecourse.

“Start Right is an amazing tool that is helping us plan an effective race weekend with confidence,” Grandma’s Marathon Race Director Greg Haapala said. “With this analysis, we know our racecourse and the established capacity limits allow for the appropriate spacing between participants, but we will still require everyone involved to act responsibly throughout the event.”

Altenburg’s model checks the participant density and spacing at all points along the racecourse, including the start and finish lines, aid stations, or narrow sections of roadway. At one of the highest density spots, the finish line, his analysis shows the 2021 plan decreases the peak by 64 percent from 2019.

 

“We measured the entire course and simulated every participant based on the specific data of the event,” Altenburg concluded. “The result is that Grandma’s Marathon is uniquely equipped to be among the first marathons to come back when the time is right.”

(03/02/2021) Views: 503 ⚡AMP
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Grandma's Marathon organizers are gearing up for races this June, but the event will be capped at 10,000 participants

Grandma's Marathon is on, but only for half of racers. Organizers are planning for 10,000 runners, and registration is now full.

"Current state guidelines don't allow for even close to our current half-capacity limit, so we are operating in a gray area in which we don't know what June 2021 holds for us," said Shane Bauer, Grandma's Marathon's executive director.

"Because of that, we feel it's important to narrow our focus now on a defined participant number that allows us to fine tune our modified plan, giving Grandma's Marathon the best chance of holding an in-person event as safely as possible," he said.

The country's 12th-largest marathon typically brings 20,000 participants and thousands of other visitors to Duluth each year. It was canceled for the first time in the race's 44-year history last year because of COVID-19.

Registration for Grandma's Marathon, the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon and the William A. Irvin 5K have filled up, but race organizers suggest those seeking a spot at the June 17-19 event contact one of their charity partners, who may have limited in-person entries remaining. Those registered can also transfer their entry to another runner for a fee using an online portal.

Runners can also sign up for virtual races with the option to race in competitive, recreational and incremental divisions.

(01/15/2021) Views: 533 ⚡AMP
by Katie Galioto
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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2021 Grandma´s marathon has reached the half-capacity limit for in-person registration

Back in October, registration was open for Grandma’s Marathon, the Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon and the William A. Irvin 5K. The half-marathon filled up in just over 13 hours. And now the other two are full as well.

Organizers announced Tuesday that all three races have reached the half-capacity limit for in-person registration. The full and half-marathons were limited to 4,000 runners, while the limit was 1,500 for the 5K. For those who are still interested to run in-person, they are encouraged to reach out to the marathon’s charity partners which can be found on their website.

“What that is is you sign up, you get an entry into any of the three events for 2021 and you fund-raise from now until race day. And if you hit your fundraising goal, the entry then is free. So it’s a great way to not only get what you want, which is run a race at Grandma’s Marathon weekend. But also to help out one of our great charity partners and raise some money for the community,” said PR and marketing director Zach Schneider.

And now that the races are full, the focus turns to the possibility of adding more in-person spots if local and state restrictions on mass gatherings are loosened up.

“We hope to have a decision on whether we’re going to try and open up more in-person spots for the 2021 race by the end of January. We’re hoping that in the coming weeks, we’ll have the chance to meet as a staff to talk to our local health partners and officials, and really figure out what’s the best course for us and for our participants, our volunteers, our spectators,” Schneider said.

Organizers say a virtual option to run the race is also still available

(12/30/2020) Views: 494 ⚡AMP
by Sam Ali
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Grandma’s Marathon-Duluth, Inc. has been included on the “Top 20 Marathons of the Decade” list, as voted on by participants and published by popular running website BibRave

Already named by BibRave voters as one of the top five marathons in the country in 2018, Grandma’s Marathon this time cracks the all-decade list due to its “proven track record for excellent communication and organization.”

“It’s an honor to be included because these voters are largely people who have been to and participated in our race,” Executive Director Shane Bauer said, “but an award like this is more reflective on our community as a whole than it is just Grandma’s Marathon.

There are more than 800 marathons in the United States, and ranking near the top of all those is a testament to the overall experience our community provides to thousands of participants every June.”

BibRave is a website where participants can share their experiences and feedback following a race, and because of that it’s become a popular spot for people looking for reviews prior to signing up for a future event.

“It’s unique that people leave Duluth after race weekend so eager to spread the word about our city and our race,” Bauer continued. “That piece helps separate Grandma’s Marathon from the crowd and could never be accomplished without the amazing support and energy of our community.”

Grandma’s Marathon was also named by BibRave voters as one of the nation’s top 5 “Race-Cations,” which is described as a premier race combined with weekend experiences to make potential extra travel and logistics worth the time.

(12/21/2020) Views: 498 ⚡AMP
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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2020 Grandma’s Marathon race t-shirts were donated to people in need

Grandma's marathon has managed to take a not-so-great situation and use it for good.

The organization has donated More than 150 boxes full of race t-shirts that didn't go to runners. That's about 10-thousand items that will be heading to Haiti to benefit those in need.

"Wow I was just surprised. Here we are at Advantage Emblem and they have all these t-shirts that they are giving to Orphan Grain Train," said Pastor Tom Brinkley of St. Matthews Church. "They were so nice and I realize how difficult that is not being able to run the race and having this stuff but what a blessing it's been to us."

"When we ship stuff, we don't just ship it randomly. There has to be an organization in place," said Eugene Pasche of Orphan Grain Train. "So it doesn't just go to a port there and sit there like when there is a natural disaster. With a destination and a person there to get it, it moves quite fast."

The donation was made with help from "Orphan Grain Train" and St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Esko.

(10/28/2020) Views: 527 ⚡AMP
by Kelly Hinseth
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Grandma’s Marathon signs with ASICS a multi-year agreement as official shoe sponsor

Grandma’s Marathon – Duluth, Inc. today is announcing a multi-year agreement to make ASICS the official running shoe sponsor of Grandma’s Marathon. The 45th annual race weekend will take place next summer, scheduled for June 17-19, 2021.

As a presenting sponsor for the next three years, ASICS Corporation will have a prominent presence at all marathon weekend activities including the Health and Fitness Expo, William A. Irvin 5k, Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, and Grandma’s Marathon.

The partnership will provide participants with access to custom training plans in the ASICS Runkeeper® app, ASICS-sponsored celebration opportunities, and other benefits through the OneASICS™ loyalty program.

Grandma’s Marathon is also renewing its partnership with Race Roster to continue as the official registration company of all the organization’s events – Grandma’s Marathon, Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, William A. Irvin 5K, St. Fennessy 4K, Fitger’s 5K, Part Point 5-Miler, Minnesota Mile, and North End Nightmare 5K.

Race Roster is a subsidiary of ASICS Corporation and has been the registration platform of Grandma’s Marathon since 2017.

Shane Bauer, Grandma’s Marathon Executive Director: “ASICS is the ideal sponsor for Grandma’s Marathon events. They have a long history of uniquely meeting the needs of runners, race directors, and the running community by offering world-class race management, premium brand sponsorship, and marketing. This partnership brings the best of our worlds together while also enhancing our race day experience for participants. We look forward to working with them to support our running community.”

Alex Vander Hoeven, Race Roster & Runkeeper CEO: “We are thrilled to team up with Grandma’s Marathon and help participants train for this historical event. People often download the Runkeeper app to help them achieve their running goals. Our training plans are tailored to individual fitness levels and specific goals, so runners feel more confident and better prepared come race day. Race Roster has long supported this event from the race registration side. We are excited to make ASICS a part of that to take that partnership one step further.”

Grandma’s Marathon and ASICS officially launched their new partnership when registration for the 45th annual event opened on October 1, 2020.

(10/16/2020) Views: 556 ⚡AMP
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Grandma's Marathon adds a female runner to logo

Grandma’s Marathon is adding a female runner to its logo, a move race organizers say is “long overdue.”

“We thought with the 45th anniversary coming up it would be a great time to make that update,” said Shane Bauer, executive director of Grandma’s Marathon. “It’s been talked about for years.”

The logo was adapted from founding sponsor Grandma’s Saloon and Grill and features black-and-white drawings of three runners in a loop. The middle runner was replaced with a woman.

An increasing number of women have run Grandma’s nearly every year since it began in 1977, and a majority of half-marathon runners have been women since that event began in 1991.

“Thinking about Kathrine Switzer pushing her way into the Boston Marathon, that wasn’t so long ago,” Bauer said about the first woman to run that race in 1967.

“There has been quite the flip.”

Duluth native and Olympic long-distance runner Kara Goucher said she’s “proud” that organizers updated the branding.

“I think we women want representation and I think to have it in the logo is a really big deal,” said Goucher, who lives in Boulder, Colo., but was visiting Duluth this week.

“Those are small steps that make a huge difference for their audience.”

Goucher is an advocate for getting more women and girls into running. After handing out water at Grandma’s Marathon and “loving the race” as a spectator while growing up, the 42-year-old said it was important to “see what was possible.”

“I think it’s one of the great sports where there is equal representation — you’re never going to see that in football or basketball or soccer,” she said. “It’s one of the places where we have equal access most of the time.”

Bauer said that women have also played an important role in the Grandma’s Marathon organization, making up a majority of the paid staff.

“If you look at our history, women have really run the show,” he said. The logo change was prompted by Grandma’s Gazette, the official race publication from Grandma’s Restaurant, which added a woman to its line-art logo in 2019, Bauer said.

Next year’s marathon will be run at half capacity — 4,000 each for the full marathon and the half and 1,500 for the 5K. Race weekend typically draws 18,000 runners and is a major boost for Duluth’s tourism economy.

The race runs along the North Shore between Two Harbors and Canal Park in Duluth and is a Boston qualifier.

Bauer said “we’re choosing to be optimistic” about running the race in person next year, but the pandemic may have other plans.

The 2020 race scheduled for June 22 was canceled at the end of March, marking the first cancellation since the marathon began.

The 45th-annual Grandma’s Marathon and Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon are scheduled for June 19.

(09/13/2020) Views: 766 ⚡AMP
by Brooks Johnson
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Grandma’s Marathon 2021 will take place but at half capacity

This past year saw big changes for Grandma’s Marathon. The race was cancelled for the first time ever and runners were allowed to participate virtually. As for next year’s event, the plan is that it will be back to in-person, but with a few changes.

The 45th annual Grandma’s Marathon, the Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon and the William A. Irvin 5K will take place at half capacity.

That means the marathon and half marathon will be limited to 4,000 runners, while the 5K will have just 1, 500. Registration will be open on October 1st at 7 p.m. central time and organizers expect it to fill up fast.

“Obviously, Minnesota guidelines aren’t permitting that size of a gathering yet. But there’s no way to tell what next June is going to be like. We want to do everything we can to put on a Grandma’s Marathon 45th anniversary weekend for our runners that we can possibly do.

We’re going to budget for right now the middle of the road. And if things get better with this virus and things are able to open up, we’ll absolutely open up registration to accommodate more people,” said executive director Shane Bauer.

Grandma’s Marathon is also making a long overdue update to its logo, which now includes a women’s division runner.

(09/10/2020) Views: 570 ⚡AMP
by Sam Ali
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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2021 Grandma's Marathon Registration to open October 1

Grandma's Marathon ran a successfully social distanced in-person Park Point 5-miler back in Uuly. Using that same model and COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, the organization plans to host both the Minnesota Mile and Fitger's 5k in person this Friday and Saturday.

"It's exciting stuff for Grandma's Marathon that we're able to lead the way in that regard. Get people back out and running again in an actual event where you receive an official time. That's really cool for our industry and mission to keep people active," explained Grandma's Marathon Executive Director Shane Bauer.

Grandma’s Marathon was one of the first event organizations in the country to formulate an approved COVID-19 Preparedness Plan to allow participants to run races in person, as safely as possible during the pandemic.

The Minnesota Mile will take place this Friday, September 11. The Fitger's 5K, which was rescheduled from April to September, will take place Saturday morning, September 12. Each race features time blocks throughout the day and waves with a limited number of people.

Based on this format, Grandma's Marathon is confident they can hold a successful Grandma's Marathon weekend next summer.

"We are going to open registration on October 1st at 7 P.M. central time for 4,000 runners in the half marathon and for the full marathon. We're going to go with 1,500 runners in the 5K because we have to plan for something," added Bauer.

The plan is to open registration for the 45th Grandma’s Marathon, 31st Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, and 27th William A. Irvin 5K at half capacity on October 1.

In the event of in-person race cancellation, Grandma’s Marathon will give the registration value back to registrants with a forty percent discount that can be used up to three times over the next five years.

A virtual option will be available from the start of registration as well.

(09/09/2020) Views: 589 ⚡AMP
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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With no crowd, motivation comes from within for virtual Grandma’s Marathon runners

Runners face a number of challenges this year at the Grandma's Marathon. With the race going virtual, motivation coming from the crowd is no more.

"I do think that's going to be the bigger challenge because you won't have the crowds cheering you on," said Tony Stensland, a local running coach.

Stensland advises those running a virtual race to toward the ones you can count on.

"If you can utilize friends and family members to be your cheer squad, that helps a lot," added Stensland.

But for those riding solo, Stensland advises them to take a more mental approach.

"If you don't have some people to help you and you really are solo. Maybe just dig down deep and stay focused. Maybe run each mile for a person that's close to you," said Stensland.

Social media is another helpful tool as runners can connect with those as they do the race.

"If you have your cell phone with you, let people know you are doing this at this certain time and maybe they are going to be texting you along the way. This is a virtual race, so some of the rules and some of the etiquettes kind of go out the window. Try to make it fun and a enjoyable experience for yourself," added Stensland.

Creating your own race experience will only pay dividens in the end.

"If you know where your finish line is, sidewalk chalk a finish line on it, write finish, maybe motivational quotes along the road with sidewalk chalk, So little things like that where you can really personalize it for yourself. It's a great idea and it really adds to the experience," said Stensland.

Stensland also encouraged runners to make their race a personal experience because, in the end, it will be unique compared to other races.

(06/20/2020) Views: 699 ⚡AMP
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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The Grandma’s Marathon Kicks Off Virtual Races

Grandma’s Marathon weekend may be canceled this year, but runners are still hitting the pavement to clock in their times.

Beginning Monday, registered runners could run their races, including the William A. Irvin 5K, the Garry Bjorklund half marathon or the full marathon.

Each participant can print out their own race bib and then submit their times online. While those times won’t be race official, all runners will receive a medal later this summer.

“They were excited that they could finish their time right away and log it before it gets too warm where they run. So it’s nice there’s a big window so runners can either follow the same training program that they were planning to run and complete their races in June,” marketing and public relations director of Grandma’s Marathon Mandi Peterson said.

More than 200 people have already finished their races. Registered runners have until July 31 to submit their times.

(05/06/2020) Views: 1,803 ⚡AMP
by Claudia Chakamian
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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The 2020 Grandma´s Marathon has been cancelled due to coronavirus outbreak

Race organizers made the announcement on the Grandma's website Tuesday that the 44th annual marathon, which was scheduled for June 20, will not take place.

Minnesota's legendary North Shore marathon will go on hiatus for a year, after organizers decided it was prudent to cancel with ongoing concerns about the coronavirus. 

Grandma's Marathon made the announcement on it's website Tuesday that the 44th annual marathon, which was scheduled for June 20, will not take place. 

"This is not the news that we wanted to be sharing with our running community, but after very careful deliberation, we have made the extremely difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Grandma’s Marathon Race Weekend of events," read the post. "The staff and board of Grandma’s Marathon along with our medical and public agency leaders believe this is the responsible action to take in an effort to keep everyone safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and not take valuable resources away from our local health system."

Race officials say they know runners registered for the race are well into their training, and may be disappointed by the decision to cancel. They are providing the following resources: 2020 Virtual Race - You will be automatically entered into the virtual version of your race. All you need to do is run your race wherever you want, whenever you want while following the safety measures that have been laid out by your local government regarding COVID-19. The Virtual Submission Platform provided by Mtec Results will open on May 4. An email will be sent to you in early May with a link to your personal results page on the Virtual Submission Platform where you can download an official Race Bib, upload your time, and view/download an official Finisher Certificate. More details are available on the Grandma's Marathon website.

2021 Race Discount - We will provide a 20% discount toward the 2021 Grandma’s Marathon Weekend Race of your choice: Grandma’s Marathon, Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon or William A. Irvin 5K. Your promo code and instructions for redeeming the discount will be emailed to you in September 2020. Those who received complimentary 2020 entries do not qualify for the 2021 discount.

Donation - As we are a Minnesota Nonprofit with 501(c)(3) status, your registration has been converted to a donation, which will enable you to claim the entry fee you paid as a tax write-off. Tax receipts will be issued between April 13 and May 13. In addition, if you choose to contribute your discount by not using the promo code that will be sent to you in September, please know that your donation will help ensure that our organization can continue to provide a world-class experience to the running community for years to come.

Sponsor Rewards - We are working with our committed team of sponsors to provide a worthwhile variety of discounts and rewards to 2020 registrants as an additional thank you for your support. Details about these items will be emailed periodically to participants.

Grandma's Marathon officials are making it very clear that this is not the end of an event that has become part of Duluth culture, a race that brings both money and humanity to the city during a weekend that thousands look forward to. 

"Looking ahead, we sincerely hope you are able to celebrate our 45th Anniversary Race Weekend with us next year on June 18-19, 2021! The anniversary weekend will provide a merited occasion to be grateful that we partake in a sport that endures all circumstances," reads the Grandma's website.  "A sport that will come back from this crisis even stronger – because together we are stronger."

(03/31/2020) Views: 764 ⚡AMP
by Dana Thiede
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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The 44th Grandma's Marathon is three months away, but its organizers are continually monitoring the new coronavirus developments to determine if and how it may affect the race weekend

For now, Grandma's weekend June 18-20 remains on schedule, said Mandi Peterson, the marathon's marketing and public relations director.

"At this point, we're moving ahead on all planning," Peterson said. "We're keeping an eye on it."

In many areas of the world, the spread of the coronavirus has forced officials to restrict travel and limit or cancel large-gathering events, such as stadium soccer matches. The NBA's Golden State Warriors announced Wednesday that the team will play home games without fans, and other events at San Francisco's Chase Center have been postponed or canceled through March 21.

Grandma's began in 1977 with 150 participants. In 2019, more than 18,000 people competed in the marathon, the Gary Bjorklund Half Marathon and William A. Irvin 5K. Participants came from 46 countries and all 50 states. Thousands more gather throughout the city to watch the races and take in other activities.

The Minnesota Department of Health has not yet recommended a ban on large gatherings or the cancellation of events, and Peterson said Grandma's Marathon officials will monitor and follow the lead of the department and other health organizations.

Grandma's Marathon officials will soon post a statement about the coronavirus situation at grandmasmarathon.com, Peterson said.

"Right now, it's not affecting Minnesota to the point that we have to change plans," she said. "We'll continue to see how it evolves."

(03/12/2020) Views: 731 ⚡AMP
by Tom Larson
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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The registration price for Grandma’s Marathon increases on January 1

Entry fee increases to $135 on January 1, 2020. Registration for the 44th annual Grandma’s Marathon Weekend races opened October 1, 2019, which included Grandma’s Marathon, the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon and the William A. Irvin 5K.

All Grandma’s Marathon participants registered before 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 2019, will receive a complimentary full-zip, fleece lined training jacket. After December 31, runners will have the option to purchase the jacket at a discounted price. Entries for Grandma’s Marathon are taken on a first come, first serve basis until the race reaches 9,000 participants. 

Registration for the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon is sold out for 2020; however, guaranteed half marathon entries are still available through our official Charity Partner Program. There are less than 50 spots available in the William A. Irvin 5K race.

Participants can also register for the Full Great Grandma’s Challenge. The challenge is for those looking for the ultimate race experience, which pairs the William A. Irvin 5K on Friday with the full marathon on Saturday. Registration is limited to the first 500 individuals and finishers will receive an exclusive Challenge jacket.

(12/31/2019) Views: 910 ⚡AMP
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Registration for the 44th annual Grandma’s Marathon Opens October 1

Registration for the 44th annual Grandma’s Marathon Weekend, which includes Grandma’s Marathon, the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon and the William A. Irvin 5K, will open at 7 p.m. CT on October 1, 2019.

Entries for Grandma’s Marathon will be taken on a first come, first serve basis until the race reaches 9,000 participants. Those who register to run the 26.2-mile race before December 31 will receive a free commemorative full-zip jacket. After December 31, runners will have the option to purchase the jacket.

Registration for the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon will also be conducted on a first come, first registered basis until the race capacity is filled at 7,500 participants. This year is the 30th Anniversary of the popular road race; therefore, the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon is expected to reach capacity very quickly once again.

The William A. Irvin 5K is limited to the first 2,000 participants. The 3.1-mile racecourse features a tour through Canal Park on Friday evening of race weekend.

The entry fee for the 44th running of Grandma’s Marathon starts at $110 with price increases scheduled until the race limit is met (see below for complete pricing structure). The Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon is $100 and the William A. Irvin 5K entry fee begins at $35.

Those looking for the ultimate race experience are invited to take the Great Grandma’s Challenge, which pairs the 5K with either the full or half marathon. Registration for the Great Grandma’s Challenge is limited to the first 500 individuals for each race and will also be available starting October  1.

(09/30/2019) Views: 1,183 ⚡AMP
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Austin Braithwait has accomplished his goal of completing marathons in all 50 states before the age of 50

A suburban Kansas City man has accomplished his goal of completing marathons in all 50 states before the age of 50.

The Kansas City Star reports that the final stop on Austin Braithwait’s quest was a June 22 race in Duluth, Minnesota.

It almost didn’t happen. The Lenexa, Kansas, man was 26 when he ran his first marathon in Kansas City, Missouri, during an ice storm. The experience was so miserable that he waited another eight years before running another.

But eventually he was hooked, fitting in races around his work travel schedule at UMB Bank. On a couple trips, he squeezed in back-to-back races, running in Mississippi on a Saturday and Alabama on a Sunday.

On another trip he ran in Pennsylvania and New Jersey during a single weekend.

(07/06/2019) Views: 1,118 ⚡AMP
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The list of 50 staters continue to grew. Well done Austin! 7/10 10:06 pm


Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Kenyan Boniface Kongin wins men's Grandma's Marathon clocking 2:11:56

Kenyan Boniface Kongin, who entered in the citizen field after the elite field filled up, won his first Grandma's Marathon men's race Saturday by overcoming hamstring and Achilles problems to win in  2 hours, 11 minutes and 56 seconds.

Kongin, who has stayed in West Duluth and trained in town since arriving April 19, stopped several times during the 26.2-mile race and walked across the finish line while pointing to the sky and dropping to his knees.

Kongin won the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 5 in a personal-best time of 2:10:34 but injured his left hamstring and right Achilles in the process. Running a 2:06 pace nearly halfway through the race, he slowed down several times in the last half of the race as his ailments worsened.

He beat runner-up Andrew Colley of Blowing Rock, N.C., by 17 seconds. Harbert Okuti of Uganda was third, 1:05 off the pace.

Four-time defending champion Elisha Barno and course-record holder Dominic Ondoro each finished outside the top 10.

 

(06/22/2019) Views: 1,476 ⚡AMP
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Darrell Christensen will be the oldest runner in the Grandma's Marathon as he is set for his eighth race

Darrell Christensen, of Bloomington, Minn., is 81 years old and age hasn’t stopped him from running Grandma’s Marathon.

Christensen will be the oldest runner pounding the pavement Saturday, and he’s looking forward to it.

“I love Grandma’s Marathon. I think it’s a wonderful race,” he said. “It’s just fun coming to Duluth for a few days with some friends and other runners.”

Christensen didn’t start running until he was 60, after he retired. He said he would see people running around a lake near where he lived in Bloomington and he decided to try it himself.

“I couldn’t run half a mile to start with,” Christensen said. “Eventually, by the end of that summer, I could run once or twice around the lake for three or four miles.”

The next year, Christensen said, he ran a 5K and a 10K. A year later, in 1999, he ran a 10-mile race, and the following year, he ran his first marathon.

“I didn’t do so well and I was very disappointed, so I didn’t run another marathon for three years,” Christensen said.

He said that after his first marathon he started training with a running group, and in 2003 he tried running a marathon again and qualified for the Boston Marathon.

“So I went from my first marathon and doing poorly to my next marathon three years later and qualifying for Boston,” Christensen said.

Christensen ran the Boston Marathon twice, once in 2004 and once in 2008.

“I never thought I would qualify to run in the Boston Marathon, but it was a great experience,” he said.

Christensen said this will be about his eighth time running in Grandma’s, and even though he doesn’t have high goals set, he does have one.

“A few years ago I did under four hours, but last year I did poorly and was over six hours,” Christensen said. “I would like to break six hours this year.”

Christensen said he wasn’t very prepared last year. A few injuries this year sidelined him for a week, but those injuries have healed and he feels prepared for Saturday, he said.

Christensen said in the past he has relied on those handing out water and other things for nutrition along the route. This year he plans on bringing as much with him as he can as well as having his wife meet him along the course with more. Christensen also learned from his mistakes last year regarding his pace.

“Last year I started out fast,” he said. “I hadn’t run a marathon in three years at that point, so I learned I should not come out at a five-hour pace when I know I can’t do it. So slower to start and faster as I progress.”

Christensen said he may stop running marathons in a few years, though he plans to run as long as he can.

“It isn’t my goal to stop running,” he said. “If I am still able and running, I’ll certainly try Grandma’s Marathon again.”

(06/19/2019) Views: 1,351 ⚡AMP
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Colby Mehmen is living in his blue 1976 Chevrolet camper van, Pursuing His Olympic Dream

Colby Mehmen's daily routine is simple: Wake up, run, eat, sleep, work, and do it all again tomorrow. Sounds like the lifestyle of a sponsored pro, but for the 24-year-old reigning Dallas Marathon champ, it is the pursuit of his Olympic Marathon Trials dream-something that he's living out while living in his blue 1976 Chevrolet camper van.

The van has been his home since his fifth year at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, where he competed on the cross-country and track teams. Prior to that, the Texas native had been good, but never great. Then he met his college teammates, who showed him what it took to compete at a higher level.

This required pushing mileage into the triple digits, starting with 100-mile weeks his freshman year and building up to as much as 150 in a week. The fruits of his labors were there, as he posted his best times in the 10K (29:34) and 5K (14:24). Yet with an option for a fifth year, he decided to take his final year off.

Without a scholarship, money would be tight, so he came up with a plan.

"I bought the van and just lived in it for my fifth year," Mehmen said. "But my life was simple: I'd run, get back in the van, change, go to class, eat, and sleep. It was also nice that I had the rec center to shower."

Mehmen's college experience turned out to be a good road map for successful nomadic living. Cooking simple meals-Mehmen shoots for 4500 calories a day with meals like tacos, Cream of Wheat, rice, and barbecued chicken-was easy on his propane stove. When he wasn't running, eating, or sleeping, he was working part time, splitting his time among a running store, coaching online, and his own apparel company, Nomad Running Co.

The only thing lacking in his van-dwelling existence is a fridge, something he is still looking to remedy. Currently, he freezes food in a cooler.

For some, this may be a ludicrous monastic lifestyle of simplicity. For Mehmen, he wouldn't have it any other way.

"It's amazing; I can park near any of my favorite running spots, wake up, and just run them," Mehmen said. "It's an adventure every day. I'm exploring things day in and day out."

His next chance to qualify will come at Grandma's Marathon in June. With little else to worry about right now, Mehmen will continue on in his van, going after his dream.

"Right now, the plan is to run the Trials, and I'm not sure how far I'll take it after that, but [I still have] two or three years left in the van," he said. "I only get one chance to do this in my life, so I'm going to take advantage of it."

(06/01/2019) Views: 1,560 ⚡AMP
by Andrew Dawson
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Registration for the 43rd running of Grandma's Marathon will close June 1

Registration for the 43rd running of Grandma's Marathon will remain open through Saturday, June 1. The country’s 11th largest marathon is currently at 95% capacity for the June 22 event. Registration will close on June 1 at 11:59 p.m. or if the race course capacity of 9,000 runners is met beforehand. Runners can register for Grandma’s Marathon by visiting GrandmasMarathon.com. The entry fee is currently $145.

Grandma's Marathon weekend also features the 29th annual Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon and the 26th annual William A. Irvin 5K. The Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon is Saturday, June 22 at 6:15 a.m. and the William A. Irvin 5K is Friday, June 21 at 6:00 p.m. Registration for both the half marathon and 5K are closed.

In order to provide the complete support that is needed for Grandma’s Marathon weekend, there are still numerous volunteer positions remaining. Volunteer positions include areas such as sustainability (green team), traffic and spectator control, water station assistance, medical services, racecourse entertainment, finish area activities, and the William A. Irvin 5K on Friday.

This year in particular requires more volunteers than last year due to the increased focus on sustainability initiatives.

The additional volunteers will assist with sorting and disposing of discarded items at various green stations located throughout Canal Park. The increased sustainability initiatives are being introduced as Grandma’s Marathon works towards their long-term goal of becoming a zero waste event.

(05/30/2019) Views: 1,327 ⚡AMP
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Ex-All-American Joseph Whelan goal is to qualify for the Olympic marathon trials

Joseph Whelan, 38, a high school All-American in 2008, is training for the Grandma’s Marathon on June 22 in Duluth, Minn., and aims to run his goal marathon pace of 5:05 per mile up to 18 miles in Buffalo first.  

“I’m going to try to do a workout inside of the Buffalo marathon,” said Whelan, who lives in Spring Branch, Texas, where he is a construction site supervisor. “I’m going to try to win, but it makes sense for me to come home, get out of the heat and get a nice, long effort in, before I have another big marathon.”

Joseph began running marathons a little more than two years ago. Whelan ran cross country and track at Syracuse, but after he graduated in 2014, he focused on relocating and starting his career. When he told people he was a runner, other hardcore runners asked two questions of him: What’s your mile time? What’s your marathon time?

“I took a couple years off after college, not competing, but I’d run all through middle school, high school and college, and it felt like I was obligated to run,” Whelan said. “In 2017, that was the first year that I really thought, ‘I need to put something on the table and do something other than work.’ I needed to run a marathon to say that I’m a runner, and that became my New Year’s resolution in 2017.”

Whelan, who was third in the Buffalo YMCA Turkey Trot in November, is now preparing to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Trials next year in Atlanta. The qualifying time for the 2020 marathon trials is 2:19; Whelan aims to complete the 26.2-mile course in less than 2:13.48.

“I enjoyed the training and the buildup for a marathon, and I thought, hey, if I can focus on this, I can do really well in a marathon. Eventually, I want to do the marathons in Chicago, Boston and New York. They’re the big ones.”

(05/24/2019) Views: 1,495 ⚡AMP
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Kenya's Elisha Barno will be going after his fifth win at the Grandma's Marathon June 22

Already the only man to win four consecutive Grandma's Marathons, Kenya's Elisha Barno will strive for No. 5 at the 43rd installment of Minnesota's oldest marathon on June 22.

And he'll bring along his buddy and countryman, Grandma's record-holder Dominic Ondoro. Their New Mexico-based agent, Scott Robinson, confirmed both are planning to race in Duluth. And while that could change, it's an exciting prospect.

In winning for the fourth straight year last June, Barno produced the third-fastest time in event history — 2 hours, 10 minutes and 6 seconds. Speedy as that was, it's a minute slower than the 2:09:06 Ondoro unleashed in 2014 when he bumped Dick Beardsley from the top spot.

Barno will arrive in the Northland riding a swell of success. Following three straight runner-up finishes (all to Ondoro), he finally broke through, and broke the tape, at the Twin Cities Marathon last October. And on March 24, he won the closest Los Angeles Marathon ever contested, nudging John Korir by seven seconds.

Barno and Ondoro will headline what figures to be a loaded field of elites.

"It's going to be an exciting year," Grandma's executive director Shane Bauer said. "I think we're all looking forward to what's going to happen at the finish line this year."

While the defending champ and fastest finisher return to the men's race, the same won't be true on the women's side. Kellyn Taylor, who blew away the competition at Grandma's in 2018 by coming through in an event-record 2:24:28, won't be back.

(05/10/2019) Views: 1,336 ⚡AMP
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Grandmas Marathon

Grandmas Marathon

Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. The marathon received its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma's restaurants, its first major sponsor. The level of sponsorship with the...

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Registration for the 43rd Grandma's Marathon Weekend opens October 1

Registration opens for the Grandma's Marathon, Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon and the William A. Irvin 5K at 7pm Central Time October 1.  Entries will be taken on a first come, first serve basis until the full marathon reaches 9,000 participants. Those who register to run the 26.2-mile race before December 31 will receive a free commemorative full-zip jacket. After December 31, runners will have the option to purchase the jacket. The entry process for the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon will no longer include a lottery. Registration will also be first come, first serve until the cap of 7,500 participants is met. Registration for the half is expected to reach capacity very quickly, as last year's registration closed in approximately four hours. The William A. Irvin 5K is limited to the first 2,000 participants. All finishers of the 3.1-mile race will be awarded with a medal and finisher shirt. (09/27/2018) Views: 1,202 ⚡AMP
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Kellyn Taylor sets women's record at Grandma's Marathon breaking her PR by over four minutes

Just 61 days after dropping out of the Boston Marathon, Kellyn Taylor of Flagstaff, Ariz., found the 42nd Grandma's Marathon much more to her liking, crushing the Grandma's women's record by more than two minutes — winning in 2 hours, 24 minutes, 29 seconds.

This was a PR by four minutes.  American women Marathon Runners are on fire.  In the men’s race, Kenya's Elisha Barno became the first runner in the 42 years of Grandma's Marathon to win four straight men's titles. Taylor, 31, a U.S. Olympic marathon hopeful for the 2020 Summer Games, really didn't have any competition over the 26.2 miles from south of Two Harbors to Duluth's Canal Park.

Kellyn earned $20,000 from a $100,000 prize money purse. Askale Merachi, 31, of Ethiopia was second for a second straight year, in a personal-best 2:30:18. Serkalem Abrha, 31, of Ethiopia was third in 2:33:44. Kenyan Sarah Kiptoo set the Grandma's women's course mark of 2:26:32 in 2013. Until Saturday, East African women had won eight straight titles. 

(06/16/2018) Views: 2,043 ⚡AMP
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Kenyan Sarah Kiptoo the favorite at Grandma’s Marathon

The favorite in Saturday’s Grandma’s Marathon women’s race, two-time Grandma’s champion is Sarah Kiptoo, of Kenya, missed last year’s Grandma’s Marathon because of a bout with malaria. She spent two weeks in the hospital. “Malaria is normal in Kenya,” Kiptoo said. “It’s part of life.” Kiptoo trains out of Santa Fe, N.M., when she is in the United States. She raced the Los Angeles Marathon in March 2017 but didn’t finish, dropping out after 20 kilometers. “I was already not feeling good,” she said. “Then after that, I go home.” Kiptoo, 28, didn’t race again until August. She said her time off made her appreciate just how much she loves the sport. “I went almost two months not running,” she said. “It was too painful to see other people running and think, ‘Oh, I can’t do this.’ But now, I’m ready.” (06/15/2018) Views: 1,350 ⚡AMP
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Shane Keating could have been paralyzed but runs the Grandma's Marathon to remind him that he got a 2nd chance

When Shane Keating will run past St. Luke's hospital in downtown Duluth during this weekend Grandma's Marathon it will remind him that he was given a second chance.  It was there where he had spinal fusion surgery after breaking his back in a 2005 sledding accident. Keating, who could have been paralyzed, runs Grandmas to remind himself that he’s been given a second chance. He will pass this spot about 24 miles into the Marathon.  36-year-old, Keating  from Foley, Minn ought to be less than 25 minutes from the finish line. Regardless of the pain inundating his quads and calves, Keating will be flooded with gratitude as he approaches St. Luke's at 10th Avenue East. It was there, 13 years earlier, that the then-St. Scholastica senior underwent spinal-fusion surgery. Keating should be paralyzed from the waist down, his only involvement in a Grandma's race requiring a wheelchair.  The neurosurgeon told Keating's parents, in January 2005, "Looking at this X-ray, I cannot explain to you why your son can walk. There is no reason he isn't paralyzed. If you believe in miracles, this is one. If you believe in blind luck, your son just hit the Powerball." (06/13/2018) Views: 1,323 ⚡AMP
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Jarrow Wahman is looking to finish his 21st Grandma's Marathon

Jarrow Wahman of Duluth, Minn is among the more than 8,200 running this weekend. The 42nd Grandma's Marathon is Saturday June 16 and if things go his way, the co-owner of the Austin-Jarrow shoe store will have completed half of them. His only non-finish was in 1989 from soreness after a busy spring of racing hard. "I didn't make it very far and I can't believe I dropped out of grandmas marathon - the circumstances were pretty bad," says Wahman. He's doing good these days. While down from the 80-100 miles per week he'd run in his 30's, he's still putting in 30-40 miles per week in his 50's. "I'm not racing Grandma's anymore, but I'm trying to finish with honor every year. I am getting slower, but I still enjoy it and it is still a blast and seeing all the people and finishing is great," says Wahman. For Jarrow - there's passion in putting in the miles. "I like running marathons and I have run marathons all over the country and a few races out of the country," says Wahman. He's run roughly 45 marathons. "It is so great to hop out of bed and go to the starting line. It is really the only marathon I do anymore and it is just right down there," says Wahman. Most of his runs at Grandma's Marathon have been sub-three hours. In 1985, he set a personal record with a time of just under 2 hours and 25 minutes, placing 27th overall. So, what is this year's goal? "Two years ago, my time was 3:20 and last year it was 3:06, so I'm hoping for somewhere in between," says Wahman.  No matter his time, in between is where he'll be with a 21st finish in the 42nd Grandma's Marathon.  Bill Austin and Jarrow Wahman opened Duluth's first running store in 1984. (06/12/2018) Views: 1,259 ⚡AMP
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Doctor from Haiti set to run Grandma's Half Marathon for his 400 diabetic patients

Grandma's Marathon hosts runners from all over the world. This year, one doctor from Haiti will go the distance for the sake of his patients who mean the world to him. Dr. Emmanuel "Manno" Mareus cares for 400 diabetic patients in Limbe, Haiti. One hundred of them are insulin dependent. Dr. Manno said, "in Haiti if you live in the country side area, being a diabetic is a death sentence." He says insulin treatments costs 50 dollars a month. For most of his patients who only make a dollar a day, that means staying alive is not affordable. Dr. Manno, though, doesn't put a price tag on life. "It's a big family," he said. "They're the reason why I wake up every morning. They give my life a sense." He's taking his practice outside of the clinic and running 13.1 miles in his patients' shoes.  "Last year when I was here, I heard about this race and I said I'd like to do it to raise money for the diabetic patients that cannot afford insulin." Dr. Manno has been training for Grandma's Half Marathon for over a year. "All I want is to be able to get more insulin and not be able to say to patients we don't have insulin," he said. "That's the worst experience for me when we run out and don't have money to buy it." Dr. Manno will not turn patients away even if they cannot afford his care. It's what he calls 'agape care.' (06/12/2018) Views: 1,316 ⚡AMP
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Grandma's Marathon has surpassed one million dollars in charity contributions

As of June 1st, the year-round charity organization of Grandma’s Marathon, the Young Athletes Foundation (YAF), has surpassed one million dollars in contributions to area nonprofit organizations that are focused on youth fitness. The main focus of the organization is to promote the growth of young athletes in the region. Through this arm of Grandma’s Marathon, the foundation helps community members and businesses that inspire kids to be healthy and provide access to athletic opportunities for those who may not be able to participate otherwise. The Young Athletes Foundation does this in a few different ways. The first community initiative of the YAF is the ? Grant Program?. It started in 1990 with the goal of providing money to nonprofit organizations in Lake, Cook, Carlton, Douglas, and St. Louis Counties that strive to provide children with opportunities to participate in recreational activities. In addition, the Young Athletes Foundation awards a $1,200 scholarship annually to one male and one female UMD cross-country runner with roots in the YAF geographic boundaries. Altogether, the YAF has granted over $700,000 to area youth organizations.  (06/11/2018) Views: 1,265 ⚡AMP
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Kellyn Taylor, one of the top female marathoners, will compete in the 42nd annual Grandma's Marathon

Kellyn Taylor, one of the top female marathoners in the United States, is coming to Duluth. The 31-year-old Taylor will compete in the 42nd annual Grandma's Marathon on June 16, two months after historically miserable weather kept her from finishing the Boston Marathon. "After a tough race at Boston I have the unique opportunity to utilize the fitness I gained but didn't use during that segment," Taylor said in a Wednesday news release from her team, Hoka Northern Arizona Elite. "The city of Duluth is beautiful and I cannot wait to take the 26.2-mile scenic tour." Taylor should know a thing or two about the region. Her hometown is Sussex, Wis., about 20 miles northwest of Milwaukee. Her personal best in the marathon is 2 hours, 28 minutes and 40 seconds, which she produced in her debut at the distance, a sixth-place showing at the 2015 Houston Marathon. (05/24/2018) Views: 1,504 ⚡AMP
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Dan Conway, national and world champion in masters running, died Sunday after a battle with pancreatic cancer

Jess Koski had heard 'em all. Whenever his friend, Dan Conway, started in on another tale, Koski would hold up his fingers — as in, here's how many times I've heard this one, Dan. Often, Conway proceeded, undeterred. Which jibes with his recently published book, "Carry on Regardless." "Storytellers, they just have to tell stories," Koski said. Conway's frequently were laced with humor. He liked to see people smile. "It was almost impossible to not be happy around him," said Evan Walpole, a 2013 graduate of Superior High School, where he ran for Conway's cross-country team. That held true even after Conway, diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in early February, entered Solvay Hospice House in Duluth on April 20, when he was given less than a week to live. Surrounded by friends, family and music, he made it a month. The Superior resident finally succumbed to the disease on Sunday afternoon. He was 79. Through many titles, Conway is perhaps best known as a world-class runner, a pursuit he didn't take all that seriously until he was in his late 30s. He made up for lost time, morphing into a national and world masters champion, which earned him a 15-year Nike sponsorship. This former football player — he competed in the sport at Wisconsin-Superior after graduating from Superior Cathedral in 1957 — could cruise. Conway claimed four national masters titles in the 10K and 15K, won the world masters 10K championship and set a then-world indoor mile record for the 50-54 age group (4:41.31). He added seven national masters indoor crowns in the mile and 2-mile, plus four outdoor titles over 1,500 and 5,000 meters. Conway also is a four-time Grandma's Marathon masters champ and still holds two age-group records for the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, 1:18:04 for 55-59 and 1:25:00 for 65-69. (05/22/2018) Views: 1,349 ⚡AMP
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Two-Time Olympian, Goucher will compete in Bjorklund Half Marathon at Grandma's

Kara Goucher will compete in the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon for the second straight year. The Duluth native and two-time U.S. Olympian announced on Twitter that she will return to her hometown to run in the race, which is part of Grandma's Marathon Weekend. In 2017, she finished fifth with a time of 1:15.11. Ethiopian Biruktayit Degefa won with a time of 1:11:26. (05/12/2018) Views: 1,420 ⚡AMP
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Champion from the last year set to compete and defend his Grandma's Marathon Title

A year ago, Elisha Barno became the first man ever to three-peat at Grandma's, finishing in 2 hours, 12 minutes and 6 seconds, his slowest winning time but 86 seconds faster than second-place Geoffrey Bundi. Barno's fellow Kenyan and last year's women's champ, Hellen Jepkurgat, similarly plans to return. Jepkurgat won her Grandma's debut in 2017, covering the Two Harbors-to-Duluth course in 2:32:09. Sarah Kiptoo, the female course record-holder, is expected back, as well. Kiptoo, also of Kenya, ran a 2:26:32 while winning in 2013, then nabbed her second victory along the North Shore in 2016 (2:33:28). (05/09/2018) Views: 1,370 ⚡AMP
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