Grandma's Marathon

Grandma's Marathon

Grandma's Marathon

( 86 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
  • Event Website

Angie Maske-Berka

Iowa, United States
177 212
"I love Grandma's!"
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Race Management
Angie Maske-Berka's thoughts:

The 2017 event took place on Saturday, June 17. The full marathon starts at 7:45 am, after the half which starts at 6:15am. This is a point to point race, starting at Two Harbors,MN and ending in Duluth. The starting temp was around 60 with some cloud cover, it would eventually warm to 77 degrees and sun, then a random downpour when I finished.

Registration: This was available online, starting near $100 and increasing until the end of may, and then registration closed online. There was no expo registration. There were opportunities to legally transfer bibs until a date in April. Included with registration was a bib, chip timing, and if you registered by a certain date a 1/4 zip pullover. You have to earn the shirt along with your medal at the finish line.

There was also an option to add on VIP status a month or so out from the race, for an additional fee with additional perks.

Note on lodging: Hotels fill up fast, and many require a 2 night stay. You can also stay at the U of M dorm rooms. Many hotels have shuttles to the race start.

Expo / Packet Pick-up: The expo was held at the Duluth Convention Center, or DECC. There were hours on Thursday and on Friday before the race You could also have your packet mailed to you for $25. Someone else could grab your packet with a signed wavier. The packet pick up was in the back of the convention hall, once you had it, the chip on your bib was checked. The bib was in a clear bag that doubled for gear check, also had some paper flyers. We also received a virtual bag via email. While the expo closed at 8pm, packet pick up was open until 11pm Friday.

The expo included many of the same exhibitors you would see at most larger events. Shoes, head bands, apparel, nearby races. It was a decent size, and seemed very busy.

Parking can be tricky, the adjacent $5 lots and ramps fill up fast, and causes some traffic backups. There is parking in downtown Duluth if you don't mind a walk across the Interstate.

Pasta party: For only $12 (tickets could be purchased ahead of time or at the gate) you could choose plain noodles, marinara sauce, meatballs, or gluten free noodles. Then you could have some lettuce, bread, ice cream, milk, or coffee. Your could get seconds, thirds; the servings were generous. Seating was round tables with family style serving of Parmesan cheeses, more bread and water. This closed at 9pm..

Pre-race: Participants need to take a shuttle bus or the train to the start. The starting point had a lot of port-o-potties, but long lines. Bag drop was available, use the bag you got your packet in the night before, with a sticker provided. There were no pre-assigned corrals, but encouraged to line up by estimated finishing times or with pacers. There was music and many announcements (like the temperature) over a PA. The National Anthem was performed live.

Race/ course: Run along old Hwy 61, following Lake Superior.
-FLAT! - ok so there is Lemon Drop hill at mile 22, but nothing steep
-Terrain: paved /asphalt surface, or in spots you can run on the narrow gravel shoulder. In the last part of mile 24 you run on bricks which can be uneven
-Course markings: each mile was marked with a sign and a yellow balloon. There were some timing mats at certain markers.
-Aid Stations: Water and blue Powerade in separate paper cups, and at tables with signs. These started at mile 3 and continued every 2 miles. Many stops with wet sponges. There were 2 fruit stops with oranges and bananas. There were stops with Clif gels. Spectators had unofficial aid of coffee, jolly ranchers, bacon, wine, beer and strawberries. So many volunteers!
-Spectators: All access points to the course had people with signs, ready to slap high fives. The businesses along the route had signs on their marquees. As mentioned above many spectator aid stations.
- Course Entertainment: garage style bands, polka music, string quartets, troll dolls, Elvis!
-MarathonFoto on course, mostly near the end, photos posted the next day
-Port-o-potties on the course, lots of them at the halfway point
-Scenery: Views of Lake Superior,and at the end you run through the main area of Duluth
-Volunteers / law enforcement, they were at every intersection and very energetic. There are so many volunteers that make this race possible. There were 11 or more aid stations, each had to have had 30-50 people, and they were all fully manned, you never had to fill your own cup. Top Notch!
-Road closed to traffic, entire width of road to run on. Open for 7 hours
-Medical stations manned by the military (not sure what level or branch, assuming National Guard.) There were sweepers at a few medical points to drop out.

Finish: This was marked with an arch and timing clock. The announcer was catching names as people finished. Each side was lined with spectators, and bleacher seats available to purchase. Once you cross the finish line there was a volunteer with a medal and a bottle of water. Then you went to get your gender specific finisher’s shirt and a beverage ticket. From here you had to continue walking to get a heat sheet, then grab your gear bag. Then you could proceed to the finisher’s food: strawberries, orange juice, chocolate milk, apples, bananas, oranges, bagels, chips. There was a lot of food and things to hold.

Once through this area there was an alphabetized reunion area, or you could go to the beer tent to redeem your drink ticket for beer, wine or soda. The beer / party tent area also had live music and a video set up to view finishers. There was a results tent and merchandise tent. The after party tent is still going long after the finish, allowing everyone to celebrate!

My Race: I was back for my 3rd Grandma's marathon. I've run this race in the rain and extreme heat, I was prepared for anything, except was I? I didn't have the most stellar training cycle, but I didn't seem nervous going into this race. I didn't have a goal or a plan except to finish. I really enjoyed the run, I didn't feel defeated or mentally out of it until about mile 25 and felt I needed to walk - all other walking was through the aid stations. My time was not fast or anything to be super excited about 5:26... but I walked away from a marathon feeling really good, not super sore or super tired. I take that as a win. Also I love this race, they do it right!

Overall: This race is one of the best. I have a hotel reserved for next year. Duluth plays host to a great event!

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