Grandma’s Marathon may be our favorite race, but it only comes once a year. So many races moved to the fall this year it was hard not to have something on your racing calendar. Our 2022 Grambassadors share their fall racing memories from this year.
Lindsay Walters- This past year for me has been about running ultras after all of the marathon cancellations in 2020. I have truly enjoyed it so much and have fallen in love with running even more. I am just coming off my 3rd 100 miler of the year this past weekend and it was most definitely my favorite. The course was tough with some steep elevation gain and downhills that made a challenge in itself at night and colder temperatures. But, ultrarunning is so great. I have really been able to just enjoy running and take all of the pressure off as it is not about pace, speed days, tempo runs, etc. like marathon and half marathon training is. There is such a huge mental task to staying strong for 100 miles, making adjustments as you go, the hydration/fueling strategy that goes into it, running overnight. It’s a mental battle because the miles do get tough, you hit the pain cave but to push yourself to keep going and come out on the other side is such an incredible feeling. I am shifting back to marathons and halfs now, but will definitely go another 100 and more ultra running in my future.
Shannon Hogan– On October 16th I did something crazy…I ran a 100k! The Wild Duluth 100k was an amazingly beautiful, incredibly difficult race. The race started at 6:00 a.m. in Bayfront with a headlamp and a lot of nervous energy. Over the next 17 hours, I ran the Superior Hiking Trail past Enger Tower, up Spirit Mountain, over Ely’s Peak, all the way to Oldenberg Point in Jay Cooke State Park and back. It was an incredible experience, that I still can’t believe I did. I never would have gotten into trail running or ultra running without having run Grandma’s Marathon. That first marathon put me on a path to see what else is out there and what I might be capable of doing.
I have loved running for quite a while now and ever since my daughter was born six years ago I have dreamed of the day she would run with me. The North End Nightmare was her first 5k…and she did amazing! The North End Nightmare has been a race we’ve run since it started three years ago and is such a well-organized, fun, exciting race, that we knew it would be a perfect first full-length race experience. Dot loved cheering on the other runners, sprinting past the terrifying creatures on the course, and high-fiving our support guy. The best part is that she wants to keep racing and maybe run even further, with her mom! The experience definitely was the “cat’s meow”!
Michelle Ziebarth– My marathon training partner and I did the Friday Night Freight 5k which was part of the Halloween run series with the Fargo marathon. The best/worst part was it happened at dusk on trails by the red river and they had people dressed up and jumping out at us. It was so fun and scary that I ripped my fitbelt and dropped my car keys. Everyone was very dressed up and it was so much fun!!
Carrie Alajoki– If you’re looking for a fall race to end your racing season, Whistlestop in Ashland, WI is the place to be! The mid-October race weekend includes a full marathon, half marathon, 10K, and 5K. The fall scenery along the course is stunning. The course is a flat gravel trail that’s designed to be easier on the knees and joints than ordinary road races. The finish line is at the historic Soo Line Depot. It’s a fantastic, well-run race that supports our local community. This year my closest running buddies and I had the pleasure of helping our late friend Wendy’s daughter Emma cross the finish line. There are two weekends I look forward to every year – Grandma’s and Whistlestop!
Read here the whole recap here!
Rachel Barger – The Rocky Run- Philadelphia, PA: This race is a “bucket list race” for anyone who is a fan of Rocky Balboa. There is a 5K and 10-mile option, as well as the “Italian Stallion Challenge”, where you run both races. The racecourse takes you in the footsteps of Rocky, travels along many of the routes that he took in the movies, and finishes right at the bottom of the Rocky steps. There is not one point in the race where you won’t hear one of the Rocky soundtracks playing over the speakers.
My friend and I chose to run the 5K this year, and it was absolutely amazing. Perfect weather for a fall race, an exciting starting line, a lively course, and an electric finish line. Many of the runners dressed in different Rocky costumes, yelled out Rocky quotes as they ran, and went right from the finish line to run the Rocky steps. It was an incredible atmosphere, a beautiful racecourse, and an unforgettable experience!