History

A long running history.

Grandma’s Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. Grandma’s Marathon is now a self-governed nonprofit organization with a 17-member board of directors. Grandma’s Marathon weekend draws more than 18,000 participants for its three-race event each June.

The race got its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma’s Restaurants, the first major sponsor of the Marathon. Over time, the level of sponsorship with the restaurants changed, but the name stayed the same. Grandma’s Marathon-Duluth, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization with a 17-member Board of Directors and a small, eight-person staff.

Runners from all over the world travel to Duluth to participate in the weekend festivities. In fact, 39 countries and all 50 states were represented in the 40th annual Grandma’s Marathon on June 18, 2016.

History was made at the 38th annual Grandma’s Marathon when Kenya’s Dominic Ondoro ran the fastest time ever run on the Grandma’s Marathon course—2 hours, 9 minutes and 6 seconds, breaking the previous mark of 2:09:37 set in 1981 by Minnesota’s Dick Beardsley.

Sarah Kiptoo, of Kenya holds the women’s Grandma’s Marathon course record—2 hours, 26 minutes and 32 seconds, set in 2013.

The Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon runs the same day as Grandma’s Marathon starts on edge of the city limits of all the way to the heart of Duluth. Over 7,500 runners run this popular event each year. Meb Keflezighi holds the men’s course record— 1 hour, 1 minutes, 22 seconds, set in 2013 and Duluth native, Kara Goucher holds the women’s course record— 1 hour, 9 minutes, 46 seconds, set in 2012.

Staff
Shane Bauer, executive director
Laura Bergen, registration director
Sarah Culver, elite athlete & administration director
Linda Hanson, finance & operations director
Greg Haapala, race director
Kate Kucinski, public relations & marketing director
Tara Sieve, volunteer & program development director
Christi Willette, creative director
Haley Wolf, support services director