Great Grandma’s Challenge

Rise to the challenge.

Up for the ultimate running experience during Grandma’s Marathon weekend? Take the Great Grandma’s Challenge. By participating you’ll have the chance to take your Grandma’s Marathon weekend experience to a higher level by running the William A. Irvin 5K and Grandma’s Marathon OR the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon.

It’s time to challenge yourself.

2021 Great Grandma’s Challenge

Date: Friday, June 18, 2021 (William A. Irvin 5K); Saturday, June 19, 2021 (Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon and Grandma’s Marathon)
Start Times: TBA
Challenge Capacity: 750 registrants total between Full and Half Great Grandma’s Challenges
Swag: Participants will receive an exclusive Great Grandma’s Challenge jacket, along with (2) finisher shirts and (2) race medals.
Registration: In-Person Option is sold out. The Virtual Option remains open. Registration for 2021 opened on October 1, 2020.



Entry Fees:

Half Great Grandma’s Challenge:
In-Person Entry Fee (non-refundable)
$160: October 1 – 11, 2020
$185: October 12 – December 31, 2020
$200: January 1 – March 31, 2021
$210: April 1 – June 1, 2021

Virtual Entry Fee (non-refundable)
$160: October 1, 2020 – June 1, 2021

Full Great Grandma’s Challenge:
In-Person Entry Fee (non-refundable)
$170: October 1 – 11, 2020
$195: October 12 – December 31, 2020
$210: January 1 – March 31, 2021
$220: April 1 – June 1, 2021

Virtual Entry Fee (non-refundable)
$170: October 1, 2020 – June 1, 2021

***If you were registered for one of the 2020 Grandma’s Marathon Weekend Races, and did not receive your promo code (sent to you via email on September 5), click the button below to find instructions on how to obtain your code:

2020 Registrant Discount Code Retrieval

2021 Grandma’s Marathon Race Weekend Plans

Our plan is to open registration at half capacity on October 1. Registration will open at 7:00 p.m. central time.

Half capacity will limit the races to 4,000 in-person runners in the marathon and half marathon, and 1,500 in-person runners in the 5K. If the uncertainty around COVID-19 were to subside early enough in 2021, whether via a vaccine or other immunity actions and measures, registration could possibly be reopened to offer more in-person participants the chance to run.

However, if COVID-19 conditions don’t improve, there’s a chance 2021 marathon weekend races will have to be run virtually for the second year in a row. New for 2021, in the case of in-person race cancellation, Grandma’s Marathon will give the registration value back to registrants with a forty percent discount that can be used up to three times over the next five years.

A virtual option will be available from the start of registration as well, however, Virtual registrants do not qualify for the cancellation discount plan.



Safety Measures & Procedures:

Grandma’s Marathon was one of the first event organizations in the country to formulate a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan to get people running races in person, as safely as possible during the pandemic. The organization is now planning to couple that experience with guidance from local and state health officials to design the 45th anniversary of Grandma’s Marathon.

“To make runners as comfortable as we could under these circumstances, we started very, very cautiously with the Park Point 5-Miler in early July. It was close to ridiculous how socially-distanced it was, but it felt secure and we received great feedback from the runners in that regard,” states Shane Bauer, executive director at Grandma’s Marathon.

Similar plans were put into place at the Minnesota Mile and Fitger’s 5K on September 11 and 12, and the North End Nightmare event in Superior on October 24.

In preparation for the 2021 Grandma’s Marathon Race Weekend, our staff will be analyzing every facet of the weekend to determine risk and safety measures, considering everything from crowd science to sanitization protocols. At the same time, we will be watching this virus as close as anyone with a direct line to their Medical Director and local infectious disease experts at Essentia Health, a major sponsor of Grandma’s Marathon.

More in-depth COVID-19 Safety Preparedness Plans for the 2021 Grandma’s Marathon Race Weekend will be posted here in the future.

Future Grandma’s Marathon Weekend dates: 
June 19, 2021
June 18, 2022
June 17, 2023
June 22, 2024
June 21, 2025
June 20, 2026
June 19, 2027
June 17, 2028
June 16, 2029
June 22, 2030
June 21, 2031
June 19, 2032
June 18, 2033
June 17, 2034
June 16, 2035
June 21, 2036
June 20, 2037
June 19, 2038
June 18, 2039
June 16, 2040