Grambassadors 2022 Race Weekend Recap: Rachel B

Every year, I look forward to Grandma’s Marathon for MONTHS leading up to race weekend. And every year, it seems to get better and better. This year was no exception. Between the biggest group of runners we have ever had at Grandma’s Marathon, the amazing spectators, the incredible feeling of crossing the finish line, and every single second in between; Grandma’s Marathon 2022 was one of the best yet! 


Our alarms went off early Friday morning, after not much sleep, and we were off to bring back an old tradition that my dad, uncles, and cousins started when they were all running Grandma’s in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s- golfing before leaving for Duluth. We had five golfers/runners playing 9 holes while goofing around and talking nonsense… I mean, discussing race strategy, of course.

We got back home to welcome three more of our runners before packing up and hitting the road in our three car caravan. After stopping about 500 times on the way north due to all of the runners hydrating, we finally made it to our apartments at The College of St. Scholastica, where we were welcomed by our final two runners- my parents.

After getting settled in, we made our way downtown. We first stopped at packet pickup- this is when race weekend gets real. We then made our way through the expo before heading upstairs to one of my favorite Grandma’s traditions- the spaghetti dinner. As always, this did not disappoint. The room was packed, the food was amazing, and the comradery between all the runners and spectators was incredible.

After we all had our fill of spaghetti, we headed out to watch our first runner of the weekend- my mom running the William A. Irvin 5K. She always does such a great job setting the stage for the rest of us runners and we all had so much fun cheering her on! 

Afterwards, we headed back up to CSS to go through our bags from the expo, lay out our clothes for the next morning, and have one last “meeting” with all the runners before heading to bed early to try our best to get some solid sleep before race day.

Saturday- RACE DAY!!!!

As much as I try to sleep in until my alarm goes off on race morning, it never happens… my friend Anna and I were up extra early to wish our half marathoners luck on their way out the door. Watching them walk down the dorm hallway was like watching them walk into battle. There was so much nervous excitement coming from our five half marathoners! 


A little while later, the marathoners did our final prepping and headed out the door to catch the starting line buses at UMD. I don’t know what it is, but I swear the drive up to Two Harbors always seems to take FOREVER! But once we finally made it, we made our way to the porta-potty lines and found a comfy spot in the parking lot to stretch and relax for a while.


As always, the race was BEAUTIFUL! The weather was perfect, the volunteers were amazing, and the Powerade tasted better than ever! As we came into downtown, we were greeted by a TON of spectators still lining the streets of Duluth. The cheers were DEAFENING coming into this area. It was beautiful to see this support, even for the back of the pack runners! After rounding the corner at mile 25 I was greeted by our huge group of runners and spectators. They were so supportive that I think I smiled for my entire last mile.


As always, crossing that finish line was the best feeling in the entire world. When you cross the finish line of a marathon, it doesn’t matter what happened out of the course, it’s like nothing else in the world matters! This marathon was no different. I did not hit the PR I was hoping for when I started training. But at the end of the day, 26.2 is 26.2 no matter if you are first, last, or anywhere in the middle. I finished my 5th marathon with a smile on my face… and maybe a few too many fist pumps.


I couldn’t write this post without bragging about the runners we had in our group! We had TEN runners finish a race on Grandma’s weekend. My mom ran the 5K more than a minute fast than last year, we had five half marathoners- three of which set MASSIVE PRs and one who used Grandma’s as her first race back after a devastating injury, and four marathon finishers- Marathon #33 for my dad, marathon #19 for my brother (and both of them shaved a great deal of time off their run from last year), marathon #5 for myself, and marathon #4 for our fourth marathoner.


The rest of the day and night consisted of non-stop celebration! Including heading over the Bayfront, going straight for the beer tent, and listening to the awesome music for a while. We then headed back up to CSS for our traditional post-race barbeque with our whole crew- which included a TON of great food, lots of post-race talk, and a champagne toast or two!


On Sunday, we all slowly got out of bed, waddled our way into church, and grimaced as we stood, knelt, and sat through Catholic mass. Once getting our workout in at church, we headed to Canal Park Brewing to meet a few of our spectators for lunch, talked about how amazing Saturday was, and talked about our plans for Grandma’s Marathon 2023. We ended the day by walking down the pier to stretch our legs before sadly saying goodbye and sending our runners back home.


Grandma’s is nothing short of magical year after year, and this year was no different! Congratulations to all the runners who finished any race at Grandma’s Marathon 2022, and I can’t wait to see everyone again in 2023!

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!!!