COVID-19 Update/Cancellation


Today, we have announced our plans to move forward with opening registration for the 2021 Grandma’s Marathon Weekend along with our Cancellation Contingency Plan. For more information, please click on the buttons below:




Hello again from Duluth, MN –

Based on some of the responses we have received from this year’s registrants, we would like to take the opportunity with this message to clear some things up for you.

Virtual Race:
You can still reach your 2020 goal. You have a window from May 4 to July 31 to choose your preferred race day and submit your time, after which you will receive your finisher shirt and medal, along with some other fun items we plan to add. Have fun with it! Share your progress and tag us! We’ve already heard from excited runners and we’re looking forward to following them on their journey. Get creative and share with us how you “Rock Your Race” with the virtual run and we’ll be in touch with more fun additions.

We have heard that some of you already know you have a conflict for 2021 and are not able to join us. Therefore, based on some of your suggestions, we have extended the redemption of the discount to include 2022 as well. You will receive an email in September containing your discount code, which you can use toward the 2021 or 2022 Grandma’s Marathon Weekend races.

Entry Deferment: Some races can offer a deferment to the next year or a larger discount because it drives more entries. It adds to the field of participants and revenue for their overall budget. Our races fill each year to a capacity based on the resources in our region.
In a capped field of participants, deferring entries takes away from the registration revenue, decreasing the quality of our event and keeping other runners from being able to participate.

We sincerely apologize. This was an error on our part, and we realize it created a lot of confusion. It was industry language that omitted the important detail that you need to opt in to receive a donation receipt. As many of you pointed out it cannot be an automatic conversion. We were trying to offer everything we possibly could to our participants – including a tax write-off of you choose to do so. Admittedly, with the new federal deduction guidelines, it may not be relevant for some people. However, it may have a state filing impact depending on where you live and how you file your taxes.

If you would still like to opt in to have your entry fee converted to a donation, follow these steps:

  1. Login to your Race Roster account here
  2. Locate the “2020 Grandmas Marathon” icon and click “View Dashboard” if you do not see your registration please scroll down to the “Claim” section of your dashboard and click “Claim” next to “2020 Grandma’s Marathon”
  3. Click “Edit registration” then “registration questions”
  4. Opt in for a tax receipt if you would like to and click “Save” to submit your request

What about the “extras” I purchased?
When you clicked the button on the registration form indicating that you understood there was no refund, that was for your race entry fees. If you ordered advance spaghetti dinner tickets, race packet mailing or Duluth News Tribune packages, your money for those items will be returned to you and you should begin seeing that reflected on your statement over the next few weeks.

Why not postpone?
Duluth, Minnesota, is one of the smallest cities in our country in the top 15 marathons to host a major marathon. Our entire community takes part in this event, creating a unique experience you won’t find anywhere else. It’s a weekend-long celebration that exhausts critical resources throughout the region, especially hotels and hospitals. And we would never sacrifice the quality of the experience that our runners have here. We also don’t want to impact other great marathons in our region that we want to see do well. We looked at every month on the calendar and with all the variables involved, it was clear that postponement was not an option for Grandma’s Marathon.

Why don’t you have insurance?
We do. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help. Race cancellation insurance doesn’t cover COVID-19. This is sadly no different than how the event insurance world drastically changed after the 2013 Boston Marathon. Perhaps insurance coverage will change in the future to cover “cancellation in the event of a disease pandemic”, but because this is an unprecedented situation, it is not something that is currently offered through insurance.

Why no refunds?
Our decision to not issue refunds is detailed here.

But I still have more questions…
Please read the detailed FAQs here.

As we continue to work to reduce the impact of this cancellation on everyone involved, please keep in mind this is new territory for all of us. We hope we can do more as the situation evolves, but right now we’re doing what we can. We would never make a promise to you that we can’t keep. Our staff lives for this event and is just as disheartened as you are, but we are determined to provide a great virtual race opportunity in 2020 and an exceptional 45th anniversary event in 2021.

As always, please email us at if you have additional questions. Thank you.


Shane Bauer
Executive Director
Grandma’s Marathon-Duluth, Inc.



2020 Grandma’s Marathon Cancellation Statement


This is not the news that we wanted to be sharing with our running community, but after very careful deliberation, we have made the extremely difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Grandma’s Marathon Race Weekend of events. The staff and board of Grandma’s Marathon along with our medical and public agency leaders believe this is the responsible action to take in an effort to keep everyone safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and not take valuable resources away from our local health system. The health and safety of our participants, volunteers, sponsors, spectators, staff and community remains our top priority. We know this news is very disappointing, and all of us at Grandma’s Marathon feel the same, but we know that this is for the best.

We are extremely grateful for all of our faithful supporters during this unprecedented and challenging time. Heading into our 44th annual race weekend, we have never had to cancel Grandma’s Marathon so we ask for your patience and understanding as we navigate these new waters. Taking into account all of the planning and preparation that is coordinated within our organization and with our partners in the community, unfortunately, postponement is not a viable option. As a small, Minnesota Nonprofit organization with the assistance of our sponsors and community, we pride ourselves on hosting a world-class event with small-town charm each and every year. In order to preserve our ability to continue to provide the Grandma’s Marathon experience to the running community for years to come, we must uphold our no refund and no deferment policy. The time and effort that goes into planning for race weekend are well underway, and a significant portion of our expenditures have already occurred and are irreversible.

We understand that the majority of our participants are well into their training programs with their sights set on crossing the finish line in Duluth on June 20. While that will no longer be possible, we want to recognize all of the time, effort and commitment that you have already put forth by providing the following to currently registered participants:

  • 2020 Virtual Race:  You will be automatically entered into the virtual version of your race. All you need to do is run your race wherever you want, whenever you want while following the safety measures that have been laid out by your local government regarding COVID-19. The Virtual Submission Platform provided by Mtec Results will open on May 4. An email will be sent to you in early May with a link to your personal results page on the Virtual Submission Platform where you can download an official Race Bib, upload your time, and view/download an official Finisher Certificate. The deadline for submitting your Virtual Result is July 31. All finishers who upload their result to the Virtual Submission Platform will earn their finisher shirt and medal. These items will be available in August 2020 to pick-up (locations TBA) or we’ll ship them to you
  • 2021 Race Discount: We will provide a 20% discount toward the 2021 Grandma’s Marathon Weekend Race of your choice: Grandma’s Marathon, Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon or William A. Irvin 5K. Your promo code and instructions for redeeming the discount will be emailed to you in September 2020. Those who received complimentary 2020 entries do not qualify for the 2021 discount.
  • Donation: As we are a Minnesota Nonprofit with 501(c)(3) status, your registration can be converted to a donation, which will enable you to claim the entry fee you paid as a tax write-off if you choose. Tax receipts will be issued between April 13 and May 13. In addition, if you choose to contribute your discount by not using the promo code that will be sent to you in September, please know that your donation will help ensure that our organization can continue to provide a world-class experience to the running community for years to come.
  • Sponsor Rewards: We are working with our committed team of sponsors to provide a worthwhile variety of discounts and rewards to 2020 registrants as an additional thank you for your support. Details about these items will be emailed periodically to participants.

By making this difficult decision to announce the cancellation now, we hope to relieve some of the pressure that you are feeling during this stressful time of uncertainty. If you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to reach out to us. Please keep in mind that the current situation is frustrating and scary for everybody, our staff included. Again we ask for your continued patience, understanding and kindness as we all work through these unprecedented times together.

Looking ahead, we sincerely hope you are able to celebrate our 45th Anniversary Race Weekend with us next year on June 18-19, 2021! The anniversary weekend will provide a merited occasion to be grateful that we partake in a sport that endures all circumstances. A sport that will come back from this crisis even stronger – because together we are stronger.

Thank you,
Grandma’s Marathon Staff


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