Grandma's Marathon

Grandma's Marathon

Grandma's Marathon

( 68 reviews )
100% of reviewers recommend this race
  • Duluth,
    United States
  • June
  • 3 miles/5K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, Virtual Race
  • Road Race

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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 is now a self-governed nonprofit organization with a 17-member board of directors. Grandma’s Marathon weekend draws more than 18,000 participants for its three-race event each June: Grandma's Marathon, the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, and the William A. Irvin 5k.

Runners from all over the world travel to Duluth to participate in the weekend festivities. There were 39 countries and all 50 states represented in the 40th annual Grandma’s Marathon in 2016. Grandma’s Marathon has now grown bigger than just a 26.2 mile race along the scenic North Shore of Minnesota. It’s a moment where runners of all calibers come together to celebrate the vigor of the human spirit. Tie up your laces for the 42nd year of memories and miles!

Linda Juretschke

Chicago, Illinois, United States
19 8
"Grandma's Marathon is a Winner in my Book!"
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Race Management
Linda Juretschke's thoughts:

I signed up for Grandma’s Marathon after so many of my blogging friends raved about what a great race it is. While the weather was less than ideal, I loved this race and would consider doing it again.

Race Registration: Registration is online through I registered for this race on December 31st, the last day to register and receive a free fleece-lined, full-zip jacket. I also received 10% off of my registration through being a Marathon Maniac.

Pre-Race Notifications: E-mails about the race and its logistics started coming in March, with several updates in the two weeks preceding the race.

Parking/Hotels: This is a point-to-point race, starting in Two Harbors, MN, and finishing in Duluth, MN. The race website gives a long list of options for area lodging, all of which fill up fast, and most of which are very pricey. We stayed at the Radisson, about ½ mile from the race finish. The hotel itself was decent, but the prices were jacked way up because of the race.

Race Expo: The expo was held just a few blocks from our hotel, at Paulucci Hall at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center in Downtown Duluth. The expo was very nice and of considerable size. There were lots of exhibitors, with packet pick-up at the back of the hall. We picked up our race packets which included our bibs and a few other things, but surprisingly, no race shirts. We found out later that finishers would receive their shirts at the finish line after being awarded their medals.

Race Swag: The free zip-up we received for registering by December 31st is very nice. It’s very good quality, and the fit was perfect. Runners receive race shirts only at the finish line after being awarded their finisher’s medal. The volunteers handing them out kept telling everyone they run small, but I picked my usual size and it fit great. I was at the back of the pack of finishers, and there were still plenty of shirts available in all sizes.

Race Morning: Since we stayed near the race finish, we needed a way to get to the start. Besides driving on our own, the race offers two (free) options: Buses or train. We opted for the train, as people recommended it as ‘part of the experience’. We were advised to arrive by 4:30 a.m. to get a seat. We arrived at 4:45 a.m. and were some of the first to board. That made for a very long day, as the race doesn’t start until 7:45 a.m. The other option was school buses, but I can’t comment since we opted for the train.

The Race: The entire course runs along the coast of Lake Superior. There was a heavy fog for the first 14 or 15 miles of the race, so much of the view was obscured. We drove the route the following day, and it was absolutely beautiful.

Porta-potties/Aid Stations/Security: There were Powerade/water stations and porta-potties every-other-mile on the odd-numbered miles. Medical tents seemed to be positioned about every five miles. There wasn’t a huge police presence, but there were security officers on motorcycles riding up and down the course for the latter part of the race.

Spectators/Fan Support: There is very little crowd support except for the last two miles, though there were people scattered along much of the course cheering us on and offering anywhere from water, to fruit, to ibuprofen and pickle juice! There were lots of spectators at the final mile or two, giving runners that extra boost of energy!

Post-Race: There were a few photographers at the end, and we received water bottles (that the volunteers so nicely opened for us!) as we came through the finish. Along with our finisher shirts we received a ticket for a free beer at the beer tent, where a band was playing and people were dancing.

Race Management: The race seems very well-managed and communication was excellent. This was the 42nd annual running of this race, and everything seemed very organized and ran very smoothly.

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