• YAF Races
    • YAF Youth Races
          • Our kids. Our community. Our future.

            A central pillar of the Young Athletes Foundation is providing free and accessible programming for our area’s kids throughout the year. These programs are focused on our mission of building and providing pathways to the community’s children in their pursuit of active and healthy lifestyles.

          • Wednesday Night at the Races
          • Saturday Morning at the Races
          • Whipper Snapper Races
    • YAF Programs
          • Our kids. Our community. Our future.

            Since its inception in 1990, the Young Athletes Foundation has worked to support the organizations and individuals of its five-county region through a series of kids’ events, grants, scholarships, and other programs that are focused on promoting and providing pathways for kids to live healthy and active lifestyles.

          • Grant Program
          • Running Shoe Program
          • Scholarship Program
          • Fit-n-Fun Run
          • Winter Challenge
    • YAF Volunteer
          • Our kids. Our community. Our future.

            Our tremendous community of volunteers plays a significant role in helping the Young Athletes Foundation to create memorable and successful events for our runners. More than 1,000 volunteers are needed throughout the year to support our fundraising race events for the YAF.

    • YAF Sponsors
          • Our kids. Our community. Our future.

            The Young Athletes Foundation was created to serve the community, and for more than three decades we have done that with the help of our local and regional business partners. With events throughout the year, our sponsors assist greatly in our mission of  providing pathways of opportunity to youth in athletic programs and encouraging healthy lifestyles.

    • What to See & Do
          • Authentic Duluth

            Don’t miss out on the authentic Duluth experience! Grandma’s Marathon falls during one of the most beautiful times of the year in northern Minnesota, and there’s no shortage of outdoor adventures or fun activities for you to enjoy with your family and friends on race weekend!

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    • Where to Stay
          • Authentic Duluth

            There’s nothing more important before the race or more welcome after the race than the perfect place to rest, relax, and recharge. With the help of our many lodging and hospitality partners in the area, Grandma’s Marathon is committed to making sure each of our 20,000+ runners, not to mention our volunteers and spectators, have a place to stay on race weekend!

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    • Where to Eat & Drink
          • Authentic Duluth

            Every year since 1977, our community has thrown open its doors to runners and spectators in town for Grandma’s Marathon. As the race has grown, the service industry has always been there with a smile to welcome tens of thousands of runners along with their families and friends as they descend on Duluth for race weekend.

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    • How to Get Around
          • Authentic Duluth

            There is so much to see and do in Duluth and along the North Shore of Minnesota! Getting there couldn’t be easier with our transportation partners. Whether you need to know where to find parking nearby on race day or you are looking for a way to get around town, we are here to help.

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    • Sponsors
          • It Takes a Village

            At Grandma’s Marathon, we specialize in bringing people together for an unparalleled running experience. Over four decades of careful attention to detail has earned us the reputation as one of the most highly organized races in the country. More than 20,000 participants travel from more than 50 countries and all 50 states to join us each June on the scenic shores of Lake Superior, and your message can be waiting for all of them when they get here.

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    • Volunteer
          • It Takes a Village

            We agree with our runners — we have the most compassionate and energizing community of volunteers. Every year, we host close to 20,000 participants and we couldn’t take care of them without your help. Grandma’s Marathon is a world-class event with small-town charm because of our volunteers!

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    • Donation Campaign
          • It Takes a Village

            We couldn’t do it without you, and we wouldn’t want to! The passion our community has for Grandma’s Marathon is what gives our race its small town charm, and the contributions you’ve made over the years are what allow us to keep improving the world class experience for our participants, volunteers, and spectators.

          • Read More
    • The Marathon
    • Annual Races
    • Young Athletes Foundation
    • When You Visit
    • Support Us

Grandma’s Marathon Changed My Life

When I think of Grandma’s Marathon I always get emotional for several reasons. For me, it is more than a marathon, but rather the most epic 26.2-mile victory lap that changed my life.

I lost all of my hair at age 2 due to the autoimmune condition, Alopecia. It was extremely hard growing up without having any hair and being the only kid in my school and community with this condition. There weren’t the opportunities there are today to connect with others. I felt very isolated, alone, and like an outcast. I wore a wig since I can remember to simply be like all of the other kids. I was told and made to believe, “girls are pretty when they have hair”. It was uncomfortable. I never truly felt like my true self as I walked around every single day harboring this secret wanting to tell others, lying to people who would ask as I insisted I wasn’t wearing a wig. I was bullied and teased a lot. Kids would call me a boy, comment on the way my wig looked and my lack of eyebrows and eyelashes. I was so embarrassed and truthfully felt like I deserved it, because to my core I did feel ugly and didn’t feel like a girl because of my lack of hair. I let kids make fun of me and said nothing, and never told my teachers because I didn’t want them to like me even more.

I became very quiet and reserved because of this and walked around every day carrying these feelings and weight on my shoulders letting it continually build. As time went on I discovered I had a love for basketball in 5th grade. I had a natural talent for the game and began to stand out from my peers, but this time it was in a positive way. I had this incredible outlet that brought me so much joy and an opportunity to forget about my Alopecia and focus on something else. I would come home from school and shoot hoops in my driveway for hours pretending to make the game winning shot; the crows would go wild as they cheered for me. This became my escape when I never thought about my Alopecia or how mean kids were. I began to dream big within the game. I wanted to receive a scholarship to play in college and be the best player I could be. Though kids were still not nice, and even opposing teams I was bothered less because I had such drive and focus. I went on to break countless school records and had a great high school career and received several scholarships offers. It was a true dream come true.

I had eventually chosen the University of Minnesota-Duluth. From the first time, I visited the school everything felt right.  I was still very much wearing my wig and trying to hide my Alopecia all through college. I went to extreme measures to continue to do this from taping my wig to my head (just as I had always done) to anything I could to cover it up and avoid anyone knowing. I said no a lot to keep my Alopecia a secret. I was so fearful of rejection and others people being mean.

I have always been a very competitive person and living in Duluth during the summers I had watched Grandma’s Marathon with friends and loved to cheer on the runners. I was never a runner. The length of the basketball court was enough for me. But, watching the emotion, the grit, and just pure determination of the runners was so inspiring to me. It inspired me to want to run a marathon to merely cross it off my bucket list. So, in the summer of 2012 the year before I graduated I signed up for the marathon a few weeks before. I remember my friends thinking it was crazy. I barely had enough time to train after the basketball post-season was done, but I was determined to cross the finish line.

I can still so vividly remember race morning. Everyone was in their sweats and I showed up in my race clothes despite the chilly morning. I definitely had rookie written all over me. We all sat on the ground and people began to ask me about my training, my goal, and just who I was. No one looked at me differently because of my Alopecia or made me feel like I didn’t belong. This has become something I love about the running community so much. We are all so different. We all look, train, and have different goals but come together on race day to cheer for others and I love that so much.

As I ran down alongside Lake Superior the excitement from the crowds, the cheers and smiles were the best feelings. I truly felt like Super Woman. I felt strong, empowered, and beautiful. A feeling I had never felt. In running it is about you, versus basketball where you have teammates. I loved the independent feeling that I am the one in control. I will never forget the incredible feeling of crossing the finish line. It was such a rush and I knew the moment I did I wanted to become a runner. I fell in love with the sport that morning.

I began to run marathons all over the country. I loved the feeling of being in a city where no one knew me, or about my Alopecia. Running became my escape and outlet. I loved the feeling of challenging myself and setting big goals for myself that allowed me to work hard. As I began to cross more finish lines the more confidence I gained in myself. I began to slowly tell people about my Alopecia and give myself small tasks to go somewhere without my wig. It was extremely scary and took a lot of pep talks but I was slowly becoming the woman I had always dreamed of.

Running has empowered me so much to learn to love, accept and embrace my Alopecia and baldhead. When I run I feel the most beautiful, strong, and the most like me.

As I was training for the San Diego Marathon on a hot 20-mile training run I was overcome with so much strength that I took my wig off mid-run. This was the biggest turning point in my life. As I held it in my hand (it was so sweaty and smelt awful) it was the first time I saw nothing beautiful about it. This had been my security blanket for so long and I felt it was what made me beautiful and feminine. Tears welled in my eyes as I balled it up and ran home with it. I truly looked at myself in the mirror. I saw my beautiful eyes and facial features that I had hidden for so long. I hung up my wig dripping in sweat and haven’t looked back since.

Fast forward to today and the years without my wig. It isn’t always easy. Unfortunately, people are not always nice and have told me I look manly or looked better with my wig and yes, it hurts but I know who I am and what I stand for. I feel the most like me without my wig and my baldhead out shining for the world to see.

Though I have run many marathons and a few 100 milers I still get all of the butterflies and excitement when it comes to running and looking ahead to my goals. It is such a special gift I will never take for granted. Through the sport, I discovered so much about myself. It all began in the summer of 2012 in Duluth and I simply cannot wait to celebrate 10 years of running in June; the greatest gift I have been given. Never be afraid to take the first step, you never know where it may lead you.

Lindsay Walters

Lindsay is one of our Offical Grambassadors for the 2022 Grandma’s Marathon Weekend. Meet the rest of the ambassadors here.

Follow Her onInstagram

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

Fitger's 5K History

The Fitger’s 5K began in 1990 and over more than three decades has now become Duluth’s premier spring running event.

The 3.1-mile race traditionally starts and finishes in front of the historic Fitger’s building. The scenic race course takes participants through downtown Duluth and Canal Park.

Below are the all-time Fitger’s 5K race records and winners from each year. NOTE: Some early records are incomplete and our staff is working to retrieve those dating back to 1990.

2022 Fitger's 5K Parking Info

The Fitger’s 5K course starts and finishes just outside the historic Fitger’s Lakefront Hotel in downtown Duluth. They travel eastward toward 23rd Avenue East on Superior Street, London Road, and South Street.

2022 Fitger's 5K Parking Info

The Fitger’s 5K course starts and finishes just outside the historic Fitger’s Lakefront Hotel in downtown Duluth. They travel eastward toward 23rd Avenue East on Superior Street, London Road, and South Street.

2022 Fitger's 5K Parking Info

Free parking for the event is available in the parking ramp located next to Fitger’s.

Fitger’s Complex
600 E. Superior Street
Duluth, MN 55802

2022 Fitger's 5K Race Packet Pickup Info

The Fitger’s 5K course starts and finishes just outside the historic Fitger’s Lakefront Hotel in downtown Duluth. They travel eastward toward 23rd Avenue East on Superior Street, London Road, and South Street.

2022 Fitger's 5K Swag Items

The Fitger’s 5K course starts and finishes just outside the historic Fitger’s Lakefront Hotel in downtown Duluth. They travel eastward toward 23rd Avenue East on Superior Street, London Road, and South Street.