by Dan Kubes, Runners Roost Race Team Member and Lone Tree Run Club Coordinator
Like any marathon there are challenges we must all over come, some personal and some physical. To me Grandma’s always seems to offer up a bit both. Racing Grandma’s Marathon in 2018 was my 4th time and one I will not forget partially due to the fact I finally put a solid race together. I believe that coming back to the same race multiple times creates this false anxiety. Each race whether it’s the same course or not is entirely different and letting go of those feelings from past races can be difficult. Seeing the events from this run unfold before me was eye opening mainly because I finally ran a marathon as it should be run, with negative splits and gas in the take for a strong finish. I’ll do my best to keep this short and to the point. I’ve selected some of my favorite points of the entire weekend.
- Grandma’s is a Saturday race! There is nothing better than a day of recovery before getting back into the normal routine.
- The course: There is something I really like about point to point races and runs, there is no temptation to bail. You are in to the finish! Grandma’s is 26.2 miles of rolling hill and sweeping turns. For me, it’s the ideal road run. The course allows you to see just far enough ahead yet not too far to become defeated. If the weather allows, views of Lake Superior are the right amount of distraction we need during the race. It has been ranked by many as one of the best marathon courses to qualify for Boston.
- The weather: It’s Northern Minnesota and anything goes as they transition through spring and into summer. Of the 4 times I’ve run this race 3 have been near perfect and once everyone almost died. The perfect years we have started with temps in the upper 40’s and finish in the 60’s. The year everyone almost died was rough. Starting temps were in the high 60’s and made its way to 90. Most people were preparing for 70’s and rain that never came. So be prepared to change race strategy at the last minute.
- The crowd support: Nearly all 26.2 miles of the course is lined with locals, family members, and a lot of volunteers. Duluth is a college town and as you make you way down the North Shore the entertainment/distractions continue to grow. By the time you are in the city of Duluth the course is lined solid with cheering and overly eager fans waiting on their runners to pass by. All the excitement takes place just as you need the adrenaline bump for the last 4-5 miles.
- Canal Park: Canal Park is the main hub of which the Marathon and expo revolve around. If you have the luxury of staying at one of the many hotels within Canal Park I highly recommend it. There are a few reasons: you can park for the weekend and not have to worry about driving anywhere, everything is within walking distance, the finish is within a quarter mile of your hotel room, and the post-race entertainment is also hosted in Canal Park. A quick side note, Canal Park is also the main entrance to the Duluth Harbor and watching some of the large ship float by is a truly impressive sight to see.
In summary, Grandma’s Marathon is an event filled weekend with plenty for everyone. The Midwest hospitality creates and friendly and excitement filled atmosphere along with the near 15,000 racers (combining half and full). Bring the family and friends (there is plenty for them to do there!) and creates stories that will always be remembered. Best of luck and I hope to see you there in the future.