- 3 miles/5K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, Virtual Race
- Road Race
- Event Website
It's been almost a week since I raced the Garry Bjorklund half marathon and oh how I want to say so much about how amazing this race is, but to prevent you from having to read my ramblings, I'll try to keep it as short as I can while also doing the race justice.
Housing: I only planned on staying a night and most places require a minimum 2 night stay so a friend told me about housing at a dorm. Luckily, Marshall school allowed for a 1 night stay and it was super close to the buses that would take us to the start. They even provided everyone with a runner friendly breakfast the morning of the race and bags of ice for those who needed to ice their legs post-race.
Expo: The expo was held at the DECC (Duluth Entertainment Convention Center) and it's quite an experience. They have an AYCE pasta dinner that runners can attend in the first huge room. There are tables set up with bread and you just pay, file in, and eat to your stomach's content. You then walk through the main expo to pick up your bib and race packet. Since the race is on Saturday, they do keep the expo open until 10 pm that night. Perfect for an out of town racer like myself.
Course: It is BEAUTIFUL out there. Coming from the west coast, I was amazed and how green everything was. Yes, I know. I'm showing my CA roots. LOL. The half starts in the middle of the full marathon course and starts at 6:15 am, a full hour and 30 min before the full. This allows most of the half marathoners to cross the finish line before any full marathoners make it there.
For most of the course, you're running along Lake Superior and at each mile marker, there would be balloons flying high in the sky indicating that you had passed another mile. I loved that part about the race. When I struggled to get to the next mile, it gave me a sense of hope to see those balloons flying high.
The elevation of this course was a little deceiving. Going in, I honestly thought it'd be flat as a pancake. It was not. Both the half and full are full of rolling hills. They're not tough hills, but they're hills nonetheless and there were moments where I had to pump my arms to get through them.
Course support was well spread throughout the course. I got water when I needed and there were enough aid stations that I could skip some and get the next one. There were plenty of spectators and even some neighbors who came out, grilled hot dogs or bacon, and were handing them out to runners. :) If you checked out my IG story last weekend, you'll know that I grabbed a piece of bacon along the course (probably my favorite moment).
Finish line: The race finishes right next to the lake. A lot of runners (not me), will jump into the lake to cool off their legs. Once you cross the finish line, you'll be awarded your finisher medal, your finisher shirt, food and drink, and make your way through the finisher's festival. Everyone gets a drink ticket for beer and there are food vendors available for you know...everyone who just ran a half or full. :) I came across a tent that was just giving away decently sized pork portions to runners and much smaller portions to non-runners. LOL.
Hospitality: The Duluth community really do cater to the runners that come in from all over the place. There were signs everywhere inviting runners to come visit and I don't think I met anyone mean. :)
Final thoughts: This race is not a cheap one especially if you're a solo traveler like I was. AirBnB prices and hotels often have a 2 night stay minimum the weekend of this race so book early if you're looking to save or plan a racecation with friends to ease the cost. Flying there is also not always the most economically friendly if you're from the West Coast. I flew into Minneapolis and drove to Duluth (3 hours there and 2.5 hours back) to make things a bit economically friendlier for myself.
That being said, this race was a super fun one. I flew in the day before the race and was EXHAUSTED AS F***, but the race managed to keep my spirits up and I enjoyed every moment of it. I had a great time catching the sunrise right before the race, running along the massive lake, seeing all the amazing supporters along the way, and eating all the food people handed to me. LOL. I'd do it again and hopefully next time, I can do the full. :)