A long running history.
Grandma’s Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. Grandma’s Marathon is now a self-governed nonprofit organization with a 17-member board of directors. Grandma’s Marathon weekend draws more than 18,000 participants for its three-race event each June.
The race got its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma’s Restaurants, the first major sponsor of the Marathon. Over time, the level of sponsorship with the restaurants changed, but the name stayed the same. Grandma’s Marathon-Duluth, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization with a 17-member Board of Directors and a small, eight-person staff.
Runners from all over the world travel to Duluth to participate in the weekend festivities. In fact, 46 countries and all 50 states were represented in the 43rd annual Grandma’s Marathon in 2019.
History was made at the 38th annual Grandma’s Marathon when Kenya’s Dominic Ondoro ran the fastest time ever run on the Grandma’s Marathon course—2 hours, 9 minutes and 6 seconds, breaking the previous mark of 2:09:37 set in 1981 by Minnesota’s Dick Beardsley.
Sarah Kiptoo, of Kenya holds the women’s Grandma’s Marathon original course record—2 hours, 26 minutes and 32 seconds, set in 2013. Kellyn Taylor, of the United States set an event record on the modified marathon course in 2018—2 hours, 24 minutes, 28 seconds. The race will utilize the modified course for three years (2018-2020) due to road construction, and the race will return to the original course in 2021.
The Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon runs the same day as Grandma’s Marathon starts on edge of the city limits of all the way to the heart of Duluth. Over 7,500 runners run this popular event each year. Meb Keflezighi holds the men’s course record— 1 hour, 1 minutes, 22 seconds, set in 2013 and Duluth native, Kara Goucher holds the women’s course record— 1 hour, 9 minutes, 46 seconds, set in 2012.
Shane Bauer, executive director
Laura Bergen, registration & expo director
Sarah Culver, elite athlete & administration director
Tara Gallagher, volunteer & program development director
Linda Hanson, finance & operations director
Greg Haapala, race director
Mandi Peterson, marketing & public relations director
Christi Willette, creative director
To organize, promote and deliver annual events and programs that cultivate running, educational, social and charitable opportunities in our communities.
Board of Directors:
Sheila Skou Fryberger
Grandma’s Marathon adheres to SafeSport policies.
Grandma’s Marathon-Duluth, Inc. is a Minnesota 501c3 nonprofit organization.