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Event Profile: Grandma's Marathon

Grandma's Marathon, coming up on June 19, is one of those "measuring stick" events here in the Midwest. Similar to the Birkie, Fat Tire, or Firehouse 50, when you tell someone you're a runner/marathoner, they'll likely ask if you do Grandma's and what your time was in it.

As annoying as that can be (annoying because there are so many other great races, and us athletes don't like our abilities to be defined entirely by one event), it speaks to the scale and caliber of the event.

Grandma's Marathon is one of those events that brings the top athletes of the world to the Midwest. While the occasional Midwesterner like Dick Beardsley will win the event, this seems to come only once per generation. For us enthusiasts that are out there to have fun, stay fit, and hang out with like minded people (what Cyclova XC is all about), Grandma's is also the perfect event. What could be better than running 26.2 miles on the most beautiful and biggest lake in the world?

The leaders of the 2006 Grandma's Marathon at approximaly mile 5

As you might imagine, Grandma's Marathon is a true world class event. The organization is evident and the participant's experience is almost always fantastic! All of the details from the registration, to the busing to the start (from Duluth to just south of Two Harbors), to the finish chute, to the feed zones is truly pro.

The pre-race fog on the course of the 2006 edition. See the below story for more on this humid day.

My own favorite experience at Grandma's wasn't in actually running it, rather spectating. My own wife Abby who is a Grandma's veteran several times over ran the race back in 2006 with her close friend Cara Jo (designer of our lovely newsletter logo). This was no ordinary June day. Humidity was off of the charts and the temps were very high. It was so sticky, the fog didn't burn off until mid day along the lake and in simply moving through the thick air, you became soaked in moisture.

My goal was to spectate and give them as many feeds as possible. I wanted to do this on my bike, so I loaded up my bike with a couple gallons of fluids (Water, Gatorade, Flat Coke) as well as a variety of energy foods. I also looked carefully at all of the little back roads that cut back and forth between the Scenic Lakeshore Drive (the race course) and Hwy 61. I discovered that there are many cut across roads. I first saw the racers come by at about mile 5. My ladies (Abby and Cara) were feeling great at that point and I believe declined any feeds. I then jumped back on my bike, time trialed my way back to Hwy 61, took the next cut across road back toward the course and caught them again a few miles further down the course. In total, I saw them a total of 9 times on the course and was able to give them many feeds at just the right time. Both Abby and Cara had fantastic races both finishing in about 4 hours, a huge feat considering the challenging conditions.

So make the drive to Duluth and go be a part of Grandma's Marathon this year. You won't regret it!

What do you think of Grandma's Marathon? Let us know by leaving a comment below...

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