Duluth, Minnesota USA
Saturday, June 22, 2013
Grandma's Marathon began in 1977 as a small race with only 150 participants. In the decades since the race has grown to become the most popular race in Minnesota, putting Duluth on the map.
The race was named after Grandma's Restaurant, which was the only business in the area willing to sponsor the race during its first year. The restaurant paid $600 in support. Today, the race draws in 10,000 people with a budget of $2 million dollars. The race also brings in millions of dollars in tourist money to the city of Duluth every year.
The race is point to point and starts in the town of Two Harbors along Route 61. The course moves down the scenic road alongside Lake Superior and eventually makes it to the city of Duluth. The finish is located next to Grandma's Restaurant in Canal Park and next to the Ariel Lift Bridge.
Locals tend to line the course along the road and provide a warm Minnesota welcome for tourists running their first race. Grandma's course is popular with those in the running community for being relatively flat and therefore easy. With few towering hills to overcome, Grandma's is a popular choice for runners who are looking run a time fast enough to qualify them to run the Boston Marathon.
Grandma's has also gotten rave reviews for its race preparation. Plenty of well stocked water and aid stations are staffed by enthusiastic volunteers. Even if you're not looking to qualify for Boston, it's still a phenomenal course to shoot for a personal record. The city of Duluth itself is unique as it shares a port with neighboring Superior, Wisconsin. It's possible to say you visited two new states with a trip to Grandma's.
Due to the success and expansion of the marathon, Grandma's has expanded and added multiple other races in recent years. A half marathon, a 5K and a free run for the kids are just some of the options. Travelers coming in from out of town will want to get there a couple days before the race to attend the race expo. Not only do you get a chance to pick up your race number and start preparation for the race, you'll also get to peruse hundreds of vendors selling running related wares. Some years Grandma's will even bring in a famous marathon runner for autographs.
Grandma's made the news in 2011 when eventual winner Christopher Kipyego mistook an electronic timing mat for the finish line and stopped running too soon. He had to enter into a sprint at the last second to hold off a hard charging challenger once he realized his mistake. He won the race by two tenths of a second.
Tourists who come in for the race will want to also make time to go visit the famous Grandma's Restaurant itself (which is now rebranded as Grandma's Sports Garden Bar and Grill) Grandma's throws a massive race after party which often spills over into the restaurant.