Top Reasons to Run Grandma’s Marathon
“Disclaimer: I received entry into Grandma’s Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”
I am no stranger to Grandma’s Marathon. I was introduced to the weekend of events, 3 years ago as I was fortunate enough to take part in the Garry Bjorklund half marathon as a Bibrave Pro. Since then I have run the marathon twice, once was part of the inaugural Great Grandma’s Challenge.
I’m ready to get back to Duluth to run my third Grandma’s, and here are my top reasons why:
Bacon – Yes, bacon! There is an unofficial aid station that cooks up bacon. Alright, maybe this reason should be the excellent crowd support and spectators. Sure, it’s no Chicago, and there are parts that don’t allow for easy access to spectators, but the sections of the course where people can get to are awesome. Signs, high fives, cheering for random strangers…. and of course bacon!
Quirk! What is this you say? This is what makes the race unique, there are things you wont see at other races. There is a house that lines up troll dolls along the curb. Last year a guy with a banjo was making up a fun song about runners. A guy standing in costume handing out candy. You might even see Grandma too! These things are also placed just when you need a boost in your race. Oh, did I mention bacon? There is even a guy who runs to the start, and then runs the race, for a total of 50 plus miles of running.
Here is a video of my 2015 race.
The Train! This race is point to point, meaning you need to get to the start. While there are many free shuttle buses, some even from the hotel you might be staying at; you can take the train to the start. Also this train has bathrooms!!! Believe me, the bathroom thing is awesome, because while there are what seems like 100 at the start, it’s never enough. Plus the train is also open to spectators to ride.
The Course. The course runs along Lake Superior from Two Harbors to Duluth. While you may not always have a visual of the lake, it seems to appear just when you need it. It’s also flat, well it is for me, ok so there is “Lemon Drop” hill, but no rolling hills or steep climbs, just enough to keep the muscles working. It showcases the best of northern Minnesota, without getting lost in the backwoods.
The Community. While Duluth is home for this event, the entire surrounding community opens it’s doors on race weekend. From the nearby casino to the south, the University campus, or nearby Superior, WI – you can find hotels with early morning breakfasts, shuttles to the race start, dorm rooms, and the friendliest people.
The Spaghetti Dinner. If you know me, you know I do not care for marinara sauce. I love me some fresh tomatoes, but put some gooey paste on my pasta, and you have ruined it. Enter, the Grandma’s Spaghetti dinner. First, it only costs $12 per adult, which is the most reasonable I have seen. Second, you can get a gluten free option. Third, you can go back for seconds. Fourth, you can get PLAIN NOODLES!!! Fifth, there is ice cream. Ok, so you don’t want to over do it before a big race, but there are options and you get your money’s worth. Oh, there is also all the bread you care to eat too.
Late Packet Pick Up Hours. Packet pick up remains open until 11 pm the Friday before the race. This makes it possible to actually pick up your packet! (note there is no race day pickup) There is one major road to Duluth, you head north out of MPLS on I-35, it can get congested… so while you should allow enough time, the late packet pick up time makes it possible to actually get your things. Also if for some reason you still can’t grab your stuff, you can have it mailed (submit info by May 31, costs $25) or make arrangements for someone to get it for you.
Things to See. Just to name a few – you can tour an iron ore freighter – the William A. Irvin (this is what the 5k is named after), say hi to Pierre the Pantsless Voyager in Two Harbors (rumor has it he broke his arm), or just relax on the shores of Lake Superior… or maybe get that confused with Lake Shore Brewing 🙂
Well Organized. In 2015, there was a downpour at the start, in 2016 the race was “black flagged.” Weather is the one thing you can’t control on race day, yet I never felt unsafe or scared at anytime during these situations. The race takes care of the people. There are numerous aid stations on course as well as medical help.
This race still has all the standards too… an excellent medal, great post race beer, live music, and a shirt you have to EARN. However, the reasons I mention are why I keep coming back. The race and the community goes above and beyond to make you feel at home in Duluth.
Registration is open! I hope to see you in Two Harbors, June 17th at 7:45 am!