2022 Grambassadors

Registration opens for Grandma’s Marathon Weekend 2022 on Friday, October 1 at 7 PM CT. October at Grandma’s Marathon often feels like the start of a new marathon season even if our race isn’t for 9 months. We are back at full capacity for 2022 and we couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come.

We are thrilled to introduce you to our Offical 2022 Grambassadors! Our Grambassadors represent so many of the different groups that make Grandma’s Marathon special: seasoned pros who have run over 30 Grandma’s to newbies, people from Duluth to all the way in California, elites and back of the pack runners. Follow along on their training journey to get to the finish line in Canal Park and hear all about the different reasons they love getting to spend June in Duluth. Check back on the blog throughout the year to hear more from them!

Carrie Alojoki

Follow Her on: Instagram , Blog, Tiktok,

Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory:  Crossing the finish line at the 2015 half marathon.  The year prior, I was running the half marathon and at about five miles in I knew something was wrong with my hip. I was in so much pain and could barely run.  I managed to finish the race but was sidelined from running for months.  It took any doctor’s visits to finally figure out I tore my right hip labrum.  I had surgery in October of 2014 and was told I might not be able to run again.  I told my physical therapist, “no way am I stopping, I have Grandma’s to train for”.  I worked hard and finished in 2015, my first race back after surgery!

What is your favorite quote that guides, inspires, or embodies your training/racing/life? You don’t have to be the best of the best, you just have to be your best.

Favorite Non-Grandma’s Marathon event:  Whistlestop in Ashland, WI

2022 Running Goal:  Set a 13.1 personal record

Rachel Barger

Follower Her on: Instagram

Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory: JUST ONE?! This is a tough question, but I’d have to say Grandma’s Marathon 2014. This was my first ever marathon, after going to Grandma’s for years and watching my family members cross the finish line since I was a little kid. To make it even sweeter, this race came a year and a half after I was in a car accident that left me with a very shattered ankle. My orthopedic surgeon and physical therapists told me I may never walk without a limp again, let alone finish a marathon a year after my second surgery. After hearing this, I was even more determined to follow in my family’s marathoning footsteps. I trained through my freshman year of college, skipping the 10k, half marathon, and all other “less crazy” distances and went right for the full marathon. I will never forget the feeling I had crossing the finish line in 2014!!! And as they say… the rest is history. This was the start of MANY more amazing Grandma’s Marathon memories, and many more to come.

I won’t run outside if: It takes quite a bit, I’ve stocked up on running gear for all conditions (mostly because I despise the treadmill!). But maybe when there is too much snow for me to make it out of the driveway or if there’s a chance I’d get struck by lightning; I might make an exception.

Pre-Race superstition: I always cross the starting line on the far-left side of the chute, and I ALWAYS say the same little prayer as I am crossing that starting line.

2022 Running Goal: A 26.2 PR!!!

Noah Bitney

Follow him on: Instagram, Twitter

Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory: Running this past summer, where I was able to redeem myself on the Grandma’s Marathon course after an injury in my first Marathon here. Not only did I outperform my previous 4:09:52 Course Record, but I smashed my PR by 18 minutes at Grandma’s this year! It was my first real race Post-Covid, and it was such a great experience to get back out there racing again! 

Favorite Non-Grandma’s Event: Eau Claire Marathon #RunEC! I’m also an ambassador, and now a committee member for that race organization. 

Go to post-race beverage: CHOCOLATE MILK!!! 

2022 Running Goal: To FINALLY qualify for the Boston Marathon. I’ve got a long winter ahead, and it’s time to get myself into shape! 

Jim Boatman

Follow Him On: Twitter, Facebook- Jim Boatman

Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory: Carrying my 11-month-old son across the finish line.  Almost 30 years later carrying my 6-month-old grandson across the finish line.

If I had to define my running with the title of a song, it would be: “Take it to the Limit” Eagles 

I Won’t run Outside if: the temperature is 30 below.

Favorite non-Grandma’s Marathon Event: Ragnar Minnesota.

Emily Buie

Follow her on: Instagram

Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory: Grandma’s marathon 2020 was my first ever marathon and first ever in-person race! The bar has been set high – the atmosphere and attitude of other runners definitely made me feel welcomed as a new runner.

I won’t run outside if: NO RESTRICTIONS! I have run in -25F to 95F and love every second of it.

Three Words to describe your running: Relaxed, motivating, and fun!

Patti Hallback

Follow her on: Instagram, Facebook

Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory: When growing up, I was the slowest kid on the block. I would never have dreamed that someday, I would call myself a runner. But in 1991, I decided to join my brother in signing up for the inaugural Grandma’s half marathon. My brother laid out a training plan for me (on pencil and paper). I followed it exactly as written. And we were both surprised when I ran under a two-hour half marathon. Then I knew I was a runner. All thanks to Grandma’s!

Favorite Running (& Life) Quote: “You’re doing the best you can!”  Note: this is the encouragement that folks in Ireland give to runners. I like it better than the standard “You’re looking good” since that isn’t usually true.

I won’t run outside if: it is 40 degrees and pouring rain.

Shannon Hogan

Follow her on: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook

Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory: Finishing my first marathon. I never in a million years imagined I was the kind of person that could run a marathon. However, after visiting Duluth several times, driving on the course, and just feeling the incredible excitement around Grandma’s Marathon, I couldn’t resist giving it a whirl. I signed up right away in October 2017-then spent the spring of 2019 training for my first marathon. I remember going to the expo and just feeling the electricity in the air. The whole community seemed to come out in support of the runners on Grandma’s weekend. The excitement was palpable. I stayed at Spirit Mountain that night-and it rained like crazy. I ended up sleeping in my car because my tent flooded. The storms cleared out overnight and early the next morning it was perfect running weather. Arriving at the starting line I was so nervous, but also so eager to see if I could actually pull off 26.2 miles. I loved every minute on the course, from “Chariots of Fire” as we left the corral, to the beautiful (but foggy views) of the lake, to the college kids lining the streets of London Road, to the last painful miles up Lemon Drop Hill and to the finish. My goal had been to finish in 4:30 and I did it in a little over 4:12. I was ecstatic! Finishing a marathon was one of my life’s biggest accomplishments and has propelled me forward in so many ways. A couple of years later I moved to the Duluth area-partly due to the fact of the running community, trail systems, and the outdoor scene. I’ve run the Grandma’s Marathon every year since, and have completed the Great Grandma’s Challenge twice. I’ve run almost all of the other races they have put on, and loved each one. I’ve decided that 26.2 miles isn’t far enough and have ran a few 50ks since and this year I am completing my first 100k. Grandma’s has forever changed me as a person-I am more determined, stronger, and more resilient than I ever thought possible.

Favorite Running (& Life) Quote: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” Thoreau *I want to know that I got every last note out of my life.

2022 Running Goal: I have two-we’ll see what happens. The first, to qualify for Boston at Grandma’s. (I’m in the slightly older category now, so I feel like I have more of a chance). Second, run a 100 miler.

Shawn Jarvis

Follow him on: Instagram, Facebook

Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory: Running the Great Grandma’s Half Challenge in 2019. This was my second half marathon and the excitement of both races was beyond anything I could imagine.

Favorite Running (& Life) Quote: Do or Do Not, There is No Try!

I won’t run outside if: There is ice, I am guaranteed to break a bone

Go to Pre-Race meal: Night before – Pasta with Pesto, Grilled Chicken, and Cherry Tomatoes. Morning of – Peanut Butter Toast and Coffee

Tanya Koneczny

Follow her on: Instagram

Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory: The 2019 Garry Bjorklund half marathon. My training hadn’t been going well at all leading up to the race, so I decided from the start to just have fun instead! This meant taking the beer shot at mile 7, the pickle juice shot, and high-fiving as many little kids as I could. It was one of my slowest half marathons to date but by far one of the funnest races ever!

If I had to define my running with the title of a song, it would be: Complicated by Avril Lavigne

Go to post-race beverage: A large coffee cooler from Caribou Coffee!

2022 Running Goal: Run marathon #5!

Olivia Kusch

Follow her on: Instagram, TikTok

Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory: When they put the foil around you at the end after the finish line. I felt so cool. I also loved the community feel of this race from the moment they push you through the starting line and you see everyone going down the first hill in front of you. This was one of the best runs of my life, truly, because of how they enabled so many friends, family, and fans lined up along the course. It makes it so much easier, light-hearted, and so much more fun.

Favorite Running (& Life) Quote: Sometimes the hardest part of a challenge is getting started and trying. No matter the outcome, you either learn something about yourself or about the world around you.

 Go to Pre-Race meal:  Twix bar, fruit smoothie, and a celsius

2022 Running Goal:  Be faster than last time, and connect more with the running communities around me, since it was hard to do during Covid last year!!

Heather Larson

Follow her on: Instagram

Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory: I ran the marathon in 2018, 10 months after having my first baby, and after a 7-year marathon hiatus. I had the BEST race I have ever run. The course was amazing, the weather was perfect and the event was SO well organized. I have never been so UN-stressed about race logistics. Grandma’s made it so easy. The race is big enough that it was competitive (which is great for me and pushing myself) but small enough that it felt personal. 

I won’t run outside if: It’s dark without ample street light! I live in a rural area and gravel roads in the dark make me nervous, so I’d much rather take it to the treadmill than risk running outside. I put in  A LOT of treadmill miles during the winter months. 

Go to post-race beverage: Blood Mary, please!

2022 Running Goal: I want to really focus on the half. I have never truly trained well for a half. My PRs have all been set in the middle of marathon training. 

Tony Loyd

Follow him on: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Strava

Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory: In 2019, at the age of 60, I decided to reset my personal records (PRs). I honestly expected my PRs to be divided into “lifetime PR” and “over 60 PR.” I turned out that I set a new personal best in 13 distances, including the marathon. The June 2019 Grandma’s Marathon was a perfect, cool, calm morning. I ran a 3:19:11 marathon, beating my previous PR by six minutes, and beating the Boston qualifying time by more than 30 minutes. Wow! What a race! You can hear me tell my whole story of overcoming anxiety and living my personal best here.

Favorite Running (& Life) Quote: You are here on earth to connect with others and contribute to the world. But before you can connect and contribute, you must first practice self-care. In other words, you must thrive. Thrive. Connect. Contribute. In that order.

I won’t run outside if: I’m good to go until ten below.

Three Words to describe your running: Run. Have fun.

Angie Maske-Berka

Follow her on: Twitter, Instagram

Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory: Grandma singing at the post-race party.

Favorite Running (& Life) Quote: Forward is a pace

Go to post-race beverage: craft beer

Go to Pre-Race meal: plain pasta, no sauce.

Darius Moore

Follow Him On: Instagram

Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory: Partying with Destination Marathons, and a ton of charlotte runners who came along for the ride.

If I had to define my running with the title of a song, it would be: All The Small Things-Blink 182

Favorite Non-Grandma’s Marathon event: Chicago Marathon-It was such a great event that it turned me into a Cubs fan!

Three Words to describe your running: Faith, Strong, Inclusion

Lora Osborn

Follow her on: Instagram

Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory: My favorite Grandma’s Marathon memory is the first time I ran it — I was training for a PR and to FINALLY break a 3:30 marathon… what did I end up doing? Tying my existing marathon PR down to the second! 

Favorite Running (& Life) Quote: “Own the mile you’re in” — it’s a great reminder to stay focused where you are and in what you are doing rather than worrying about the future and what comes next. 

Pre-Race superstition: I don’t brush my hair… just throw it in a ponytail and go.  

2022 Running Goal: It will be my return to running after having a baby this past July, so I am excited to set some new PRs and get back to my passion. 

Alex Stolarow

Follow him on: Instagram

Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory: My favorite memory of Grandma’s is doing the 40th-anniversary run and crossing that finish line to get my “Aerial Lift Bridge” medal.  As a kid, I spent countless hours at Canal Park watching the boats come and go, and to get a medal that totally represents Duluth and my childhood days was an amazing feeling.  

2022 Running Goal: To add at least another 5 States to my 50 State 1/2 marathon quest.

Favorite Non-Grandma’s Event: Tough to pick one but the Hapalua Half Marathon on Oahu ranks up there.

Favorite Running (& Life) Quote: “Whatever you want to do, do it now.  There are only so many tomorrows” -Michael Landon

Lindsay Walter

Follow Her on: Instagram

Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory: Marathon 2012-my first marathon ever. The last mile when you’re coming into downtown and you hear the crowds of people, the high fives and excitement, and crossing the finish line. It was surreal and the best feeling! That was when I knew I wanted to be a runner and pursue marathon running! 

Favorite Running (& Life ) Quote: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us” Marianne Williamson, movie Coach Carter 

2022 Running goals: Break 3 hours in the marathon 

Go-to pre-race meal: all of the peanut butter bagels 

Caitlin Wachsmuth

Follow Her On: Instagram

Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory: Finishing my first marathon! I was on the course for a long time and finishing the race was incredibly emotional for me.

What is yo Favorite Running (& Life ) Quote: “If your goal is anything but to finish, you’re not respecting the distance.” 

I won’t run outside if: It’s windy out- which is hard in Fargo!

Go to post-race beverage: Chocolate milk or beer!

Michelle Ziebarth

Follow Her On: Instagram and Facebook

Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory: This past year was my first Grandma’s and the train ride was simply amazing! So beautiful, unique, and such a great way to get to the start line! 

If I had to define my running with the title of a song, it would be: The Climb by Miley Cyrus. Super cheesy I know but running is such an amazing sport and it truly is all about the climb! 

I won’t run outside if: It’s hot and humid! I can do cold, rain, snow, and sleet but the heat and humidity gets to me real quick, guess that’s the MN girl in me. 

Pre-Race superstition: I always have to set out my clothes the night before for every race. Last year I lost my pins and had people all over the hotel looking for pins for me. 

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