Latest reviews by Alison

(2018)
"This race brings me back every year!"
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I ran Grandma's Marathon in 2009 as my first marathon. Since 2009, I've been back 8 times, only breaking from the race due to injury and two pregnancies. It is a staple for me!

I swore off this race after the extremely hot year in 2016, but there I was, two short years later, coming bak for redemption. Spoiler alert: I got it. I ran a PR in 3:42:57!

The Expo:
The DECC, where the expo is held, is always very congested both inside and out. However, every year I am pleasantly surprised at how slick the process is given the sheer volume of people who are at one place at the same time. There are over 17,000 runners picking up their packets for either the marathon or half marathon, plus the William A. Irvin 5k and the Michelina's spaghetti dinner are held in this location on Friday evening. So, it is busy, but the logistics are really smooth and we are always able to get in and out without a problem.

Race Day Logistics:
There is no parking allowed at the staring line, so you either have to take a bus or train to the starting line. The buses leave at various times from many different pickup locations (mostly hotels), but for the most part will depart between 5:45-6:15am. I have never had an issue with having to wait for buses, or not getting to the start on time. They have the race day logistics down to a science!

The Course:
I personally love the course. There are typically not very many spectators before you enter Duluth, around mile 20. However, this year there was a surprising and impressive amount of spectators along many different points in the course. So fun! This race is billed as "flat", however, there are rollers along the course. I somehow black the hills out year after year, and for some reason find myself a little surprised at the number of hills. However, they aren't anything to really worry about. The course runs along Lake Superior, and if it is a clear day, the views are just wonderful. Plus, you run through the wooded tree lines, so the air just smells like fresh pine. Running through Duluth is amazing. Once you get to mile 20, you will get a welcomed change of scenery with lots of spectators, busy pubs, and college kids handing out beer. Once you run up Lemondrop Hill at mile 22, the rest is basically flat or downhill. Once you run past the Edgewater Hotel after Lemondrop Hill, breathe a sigh of releif, as it is the beginning of the end! =)

The biggest drawback of Grandma's Marathon, in my opinion, is the weather. You never know what you are going to get with a mid-summer race. Don't let the fact that it is in northern Minnesota fool you...it still gets hot and humid up there! I've run this race in the pouring rain, extreme heat and cold sleet. You really never know what you're going to get, so come prepared with multiple race day clothing options! The forecast might change on you race morning!

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(2018)
"A Must Run For Everyone!"
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I ran this race because I went to college in Eau Claire, so the idea of running through my old college landmarks was really exciting. Given that this is a smaller race, my expectations for the race management, course support and spectators were not that high. However, this race totally blew it out of the water! The race management was amazing. They held weekly Instagram and Facebook Live sessions leading up to the race, answering questions about the course, logistics, the relay, training, etc. The expo was super easy to navigate, race day buses to and from the parking lots were perfect, and the general atmosphere of the starting and finish line were great. The course is very scenic, not too hilly (two big hills, but not too bad), and the Blugold Mile is something you won't soon forget. I would recommend this race to everyone. And I mean everyone, as they have a distance for all...kids run, 5k, half marathon, marathon relay and marathon.

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(2017)
"Beautiful Course!"
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I loved this race. The run up and down Summit Avenue is beautiful, and the energy along the course is strong. Twin Cities in Motion does a great job keeping the atmosphere energizing for all of the weekend races, whether it is the 5k, 10k, marathon or kids race. It’s such a beautiful time of year here in the cities so the leaves on Summit are in peak colors. I highly recommend this race to everyone!

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(2016)
"Such a Fun Winter Race"
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This is such a fun break in the winter. Great reason to get outside and enjoy the trails. This race is a very small race, but because it is so small the race director adds a lot of personal touches to the event. The course winds around the fat tire bike trails in Elm Creek Park Reserve. The trails were a mix of packed snow, loose snow, ice, and bare ground. Definitely a challenging course but so fun! I've done this race twice now, and will definitely be back!

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(2015)
"It Doesn't Get Better Than This!"
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This marathon met every expectation I had after hearing the hype for years. I got in via the lottery and although my race time was not what I wanted, I still had the best race ever. The logistics were so well planned out, the race village is amazing, and the course/spectators along the course just will never be beat. This should be a bucket list race for everyone...it is worth it!

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