Join the race to make the world a greener place.

Grandma’s Marathon is committed to hosting an eco-friendly marathon each year and sustainable initiatives are an important part of the year-round operational planning of race weekend.
As a major sponsor of Grandma’s Marathon, Waste Management Sustainability Serviceshas set the organization on a course toward becoming a zero waste event. Race weekend has always had a focus on sustainability through partnerships with major sponsor Waste Management and other companies committed to sustainability.


Make a Difference in Sustainability! 

Grandma’s Marathon is honored to be selected by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as a host site for the Minnesota GreenCorps for our upcoming 45th anniversary! GreenCorps members serve from September to August to help improve the environment, serve the community, and gain professional experience.
Do you know someone that is passionate about the environment and serving our community? This may be the perfect fit!

Sustainability initiatives include:

  • Sourcing local vendors and local products whenever possible
  • Recycling leftover HeatSheets® and finisher medals
  • Upcycling race course sponges to be made into carpet-backing
  • Donating unused food to local food shelves
  • Supplying water responsibly: via water trucks and fire hydrants on the racecourse, and in Dasani’s recyclable bottles that are made of 30% plant-based material
  • Providing a free phone app to electronically access real-time information versus printed materials

Clothing & Shoe Collection:

Goodwill Industries of Duluth is a partner of Grandma’s Marathon, serving as the event’s official clothing recycler. The partnership includes the collection of all apparel items that are discarded by runners along the race course, which will then be donated to Goodwill, contributing to their mission. Goodwill also sends any extra race finisher shirts to textile streams to be repurposed into other products.


Each year, runners are encouraged to bring their old running shoes with them during Grandma’s Marathon weekend to participate in Toyota’s “Fill The Tundra” shoe drive at the Essentia Health Fitness Expo and local Toyota dealerships. Runners will also have the option to donate their shoes after they cross the finish line this year as there will be collection bins located in the finish area. At the culmination of the race weekend shoe drive, Goodwill will assist in refurbishing and distributing the shoes for use by those in need.

Supplying Water Responsibly:

 Coca-Cola Beverages of Duluth is a family-owned business that provides Grandma’s Marathon with quality products and service. Coca-Cola Beverages of Duluth is a Coca-Cola distributor based out of Duluth and Ashland, WI. Coca-Cola is instrumental each year by helping our races supply water responsibly via water trucks and fire hydrants on the racecourse into Coca-Cola cups, and also in Dasani’s recyclable bottles that are made of 30% plant-based material.

Transportation initiative:

A distinctive initiative that has occurred for decades at Grandma’s Marathon includes the transportation of over 15,000 runners to the starting lines via bus and train, which not only reduces the environmental footprint of the event, but also allows participants to experience a unique ride up the North Shore. The partnership with North Shore Scenic Railroad makes Grandma’s Marathon one of the only marathons in the world where participants can take a scenic train to the start line. Grandma’s Marathon also provides shuttle service back to local hotels, campuses and area towns. After all participants head down the race course, there are several different clean-up crews that scour the course to ensure all trash is collected for sorting.

Bike Valet Transportation initiative:

Grandma’s Marathon and the Young Athletes Foundation (YAF) offer bike valet services for secure bike storage for participants and attendees at their events. This service fits into the YAF mission, and the service is logical from a health, environmental, and traffic standpoint.

We were proud to offer this service during Grandma’s Marathon Weekend! The complimentary bicycle valet services for attendees and guests helped promote active transportation! A Bike Valet is temporary secure bike parking and helps make community events into a bikeable destinations. Similar to a coat-check, we’ll tag your bike and provide you with a claim stub.

Green Team initiative:

One thing that Grandma’s Marathon is particularly proud of is the continued development of its Green Team. The Green Team works diligently to assist race participants with sorting all recyclable and compostable materials to minimize overall waste. The efforts of the Green Team can be seen throughout the event; however, the finish line area is where runners will see the impact firsthand through the Green Team’s assistance with proper waste sorting and disposal choices.

Grandma’s Marathon would like to thank all of their sustainability partners including CLIF Bar, Coca-Cola, Duluth Coffee Company, Duluth Transit Authority, Goodwill Industries, North Shore Scenic Railroad, ProPrint, Super One Foods, Toyota, Verso, Voyageur Bus Company, Waste Management, and WLSSD.