Grandma’s Marathon-Good Times on a Great Lake!

Commemorative MedallionEvery year about this time there’s an electricity in the air in Duluth, MN; it’s the week before Grandma’s Marathon and the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon. It’s kind of the unofficial kick-off to the busy summer season in our area. With almost 20,000 runners in the races, not to mention family members who come to cheer for them, local hotels and restaurants will swell to capacity. We host a group every year in our home, starting with the traditional pasta meal on Friday night.Pasta!

Some people like to run in teams or groups.  Some people prefer to go it solo.  There’s no right or wrong way, just as long as you’re having fun.  At least that’s our motto.  Clearly we’re not really in it to win it!


Spectators and Leaders

These people, however, are winning!  These are some of the leaders coming down a stretch of residential road.  There are over 5000 volunteers that register and do “assigned” stations.  Hundreds, if not thousands, just come out to cheer.  They are sitting in lawn chairs, standing and ringing cowbells, even school bands and cheer squads line the streets starting in the wee hours.  I cannot tell you what an impact that makes for the people running.  When someone yells out your name or number, or references an outfit/uniform, it really does give you an extra jolt of energy.  There are some people who participate every year at the same place on the course; we love those people!  There’s Elvis, Bagpipe Guy, and a Beer Station (that would be for those of us extremely not-serious participants!).

Finishers Cheering

Since the half marathon and full marathon are both run on the same course, the half starts earlier.  Often times you’ll see finishers sporting their shirts and medals go back and cheer on the remaining runners.  It really is an unbelievable camaraderie.


Our group has a tradition of meeting up in the same spot for a couple of beers when we finish.  It’s a good place to watch the others come in and rest our feet.


Sometimes the weather gets the best of you and you’re forced to run in the rain.  This is the agony of “da feet”!

The Finish Line

So next Saturday morning, when the cars are gone and gates and bleachers line this street, think of us.  Whether we’ve just run 26.2 miles or 13.1 miles, the sight of this line in the road will be the happiest point of our day.  At least until we’re showered and sitting with our feet up.


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