About Us / Contact Us | History/Mission Statement


About Grandma's Marathon - Duluth, Inc.

Grandma's Marathon was created in 1977 when a local running club called the North Shore Striders partnered with Grandma’s Restaurant to plan and host a marathon along Highway 61—one of the most scenic courses in the world. What started as a small road race consisting of 150 runners has grown to be the 13th largest marathon in the United States.

When Grandma's Marathon became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1987, the 17-member board of directors, Executive Director, Scott Keenan, and staff of Grandma's Marathon, adopted the philosophy of reaching for the stars and never being satisfied with the status quo. This led to the addition of the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in 1991 and the William A. Irvin 5K in 1997. Today, Grandma's Marathon weekend is one of the largest multi-race festivals in the nation. In fact, the 2012 races drew over 17,000 participants from 47 states and 41 different countries, 50,000 race fans from across the globe, and 5,000 volunteers from the Twin Ports and surrounding areas.

While running is the highlight of Grandma's Marathon, the organization also hosts a variety of supporting activities during the festive weekend including the Essentia Health Fitness and Health Expo, Michelina's All-You-Can-Eat Spaghetti Dinner, Whipper Snapper Races for Kids guest speaking presentations and a huge post-race party featuring live musical entertainment.

The enthusiasm and passion that the Grandma's Marathon team has for hosting high-quality events continues throughout the year with the Fitger’s 5K in April, the Park Point 5-Miler in July, Wednesday Night at the Races for Kids series from the end of July to the end of August, the Minnesota Mile in September and the YAF Live and Silent Auction in October.

In addition to its events, Grandma's Marathon created the Young Athletes Foundation (YAF) in 1990 to assist with the promotion, development and growth of youth athletics in the Northland. The foundation now serves the counties of St. Louis, Lake, Cook, Carlton and Douglas (Wisconsin), and has contributed over $500,000 to area youth athletic programs through running shoe, scholarship and grant programs. Funding for the YAF mainly comes from the net proceeds generated at the Fitger’s 5K, Park Point 5-Miler and YAF Live and Silent Auction.

Grandma's Marathon-Duluth, Inc. operates year round and consists of a team of eight full-time staff members and a 17-member board of directors.


Grandma's Marathon - Duluth, Inc. Mission Statement

Our mission is to organize, promote and deliver annual events and programs which cultivate and promote running, educational, social and charitable opportunities in our communities.

This will be achieved through the following:

  • Host Grandma’s Marathon as our marquee event.
  • Bring world-class elite athletes to our events.
  • Host national championships.
  • Maintain positive relationships with our stakeholders.
  • Provide well organized and safe events.
  • Support youth athletics and other charitable endeavors.
  • Continue to develop opportunities that are unique, exciting and fun.
  • Recognize individuals, volunteers and organizations for their contributions.
  • Foster strategic partnerships.
  • Embrace new technology and innovations.