Grandma's Marathon

Grandma's Marathon

Grandma's Marathon

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

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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!

Julia Montag

Chicago, Illinois, United States
276 38
2017
"Must Run!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management
Julia Montag's thoughts:

I've heard about how great of a race Grandma's is for awhile, and it lives up to the reputation! Grandma's is hands down one of my favorite races I've ever done, and I highly recommend adding this one to your list!

Let's start with the expo:
It takes place in the convention center right by the finish line, right on the lake. Packet pick up, keynote speakers, and the Pasta Party all take place there so it's super easy to get around. We walked and saw the finish line and the Grandma's Marathon office after grabbing my bib and that got me excited for the race. kara Goucher and Dick Beardsley were the speakers this year. There's also a woman who dresses as Grandma there to take pics with - I loved that!

Race Day (Start line) - the race is point to point and the race provides seamless transportation from multiple pick up locations in Duluth to Two Harbors. I stayed in the UMD Dorms (which I highly recommend if you can't get a hotel) and the bus picked up right on campus. At the start, they have a lot of port-o-potties, water, and bins to drop your finish-line gear. There are pacers lined up, helping people start based on expected finish time. There are no corrals, which I was a bit concerned about, but everyone is really respectful and seemed to line up where they belong.

The Course - The course goes from Two Harbors to Duluth along Lake Superior. I really enjoyed being able to see Lake Superior for most of the race, it kinda helped take my mind off the running. The best part in my opinion about the course, was the water stations every other mile. It helped break up the race mentally and this year was a tad hot, so it was nice to have the extra water. The crowds aren't huge, but still present. Once you get closer to Duluth and run through some neighborhoods, a lot of people are out cheering. The final 3 miles or so run through downtown. It was a slight downhill, with some small inclines, including one towards the end where you go over the express way. You then run through the harbor area, and have a nice straight finish.

Post race - Once you cross the finish line, volunteers hand you water, a medal and your shirt. Yes! You have to FINISH the race, to get your race shirt. I loved that. They had chocolate milk, bananas, and other snacks in the runner finish area. I also really enjoyed the layout. The area you finish in only allows runners. Family and Friends can spectate along the course, but you have to exit the runner area and meet them in the post-race party area. It was nice to have this area clear to collect yourself, grab your gear, etc. before seeing friends. You also have to jump in Lake Superior. :)

The post-race party was awesome! There's beer, food, vendors, and live music that goes all day and night. It's right by the finish, and there's bars and restaurants near by so you could easily grab food, watch your friends finish, and then celebrate in the post-race.

This race is so well organized. Everything flowed so well, and the people of Duluth were a treat. I flew in to Minneapolis from Portland, drove the 2 hrs up to Duluth, and came home all within 4 days - it was super easy. Flights weren't expensive, and the drive up to Duluth was really scenic. Duluth has a pretty big craft beer scene too, so we had a lot of fun checking out the town and drinking good beer on the great lake superior.

For real - run this race if you can!

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