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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) ⚡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) ⚡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...

more...
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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) ⚡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) ⚡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) ⚡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) ⚡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) ⚡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) ⚡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) ⚡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) ⚡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) ⚡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) ⚡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) ⚡AMP
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Grandma’s Marathon Confirms course changes for upcoming Marathon and Half

Runners participating in this year’s Grandma’s Marathon and the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in Duluth Minn. will notice a slight change of scenery along the race course. The race course has been modified through downtown Duluth due to the Superior Street construction project. Marathon officials say the reroute will be in effect for the 2018-2020 race seasons and is contingent on the phases of Duluth’s reconstruction plan for the Superior Street project. The modification will take place as follows: The modification only affects a small portion that will temporarily be rerouted during Mile 11 of the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon and Mile 24 of Grandma’s Marathon. Details of the changes can be found on their website.  The course reroute has been measured and certified by USA Track and Field and poses virtually no impact on the start or finish line locations. (04/28/2018) ⚡AMP
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