The natural beauty of Duluth and the North Shore of Lake Superior are central to Grandma’s Marathon. We recognize the importance of preserving our environment and the impact that our event has. Our organization continually reviews best practices and implements new strategies based on the latest climate research and technology. We are committed to minimizing our carbon footprint by basing our actions on sustainability principles to protect our environment and our future.

In the summer of 2019, Grandma’s Marathon signed on as a signatory of the United Nations Sports for Climate Action group. The Sports for Climate Action initiative calls on sporting organizations to acknowledge the contribution of the sports sector to climate change and our responsibility to strive towards climate neutrality. Grandma’s Marathon adheres to the initiative’s five principles: undertaking systematic efforts to promote greater environmental responsibility, reducing overall climate impact, educating for climate action, promoting sustainable and responsible consumption, and advocating for climate action through communication. As a signatory, we are committed to achieving the net-zero greenhouse gas emissions goal by 2040.

Sustainability Initiatives

  • Grandma’s Marathon places Green Stations around our events where Green Team members assist participants with sorting materials to minimize overall waste. Including non-typical items such as bibs, pins, Heatsheets, food waste, etc.
  • 886 pounds of extra finisher medals recycled from 2019 and 2020
  • 2,137 bibs recycled by Grandma’s Marathon during 2020
  • 2,700 pounds of food waste composted during 2020
  • 7,520 pounds of cardboard and plastic recycled in 2019
  • Grandma’s Marathon and the Young Athletes Foundation offer attendees a free bike valet to encourage the use of active and eco-friendly transportation
  • An estimated 234,000 pounds of CO2 are avoided by bussing 15,000+ runners to the start line each year
  • Our partnership with North Shore Scenic Railroad makes Grandma’s Marathon one of, if not the only marathon in the world where participants can ride a train to the start line- transporting nearly 1,000 runners to the start line each year
  • The Duluth Transit Authority offers runners free bus rides on race day
  • Goodwill Industries of Duluth is a partner of Grandma’s Marathon, serving as the event’s official clothing recycler
  • Runners discard unwanted clothing items at the start line and along the racecourse to be collected and donated to Goodwill- 1984 pounds of clothing were donated to Goodwill in 2021
  • Goodwill also sends any leftover race finisher shirts to textile streams to be repurposed into other products
  • Grandma’s Marathon donates leftover banners and finisher ribbons to various places to be repurposed
  • Leftover food is donated to local food shelves such as ChumDamiano Center, and Ronald McDonald House Northland
  • Grandma’s marathon avoids an estimated 148,000 plastic bottles by supplying water on the racecourse via water trucks and fire hydrants
  • In 2021, Hiccup will be providing Grandma’s Marathon with 21,000 silicone cups as an alternative to single use cups at one water station
Carbon Emissions
  • Grandma’s Marathon is working to install solar panels at the Canal Park office building by 2023 in an effort to reduce our carbon footprint
  • Bussing runners to the marathon and half marathon start line saves approximately 234,000 pounds of carbon from being emitted into the atmosphere

How You Can Help

Race Weekend

  • Ride the bus! Runners ride the DTA for free when they show their race bib on race day
  • Utilize the DTA trip planner to get around Duluth for the weekend
  • Take advantage of our free bike valet located between the Inn on Lake Superior and the Comfort Suites- perfect for spectators who want to avoid heavy traffic
  • Discard of unwanted clothing at the start line to be collected by Goodwill
  • Look for the Green Stations located throughout the event where Green Team will assist you with placing your waste in the proper container

At Home

  • Donate old running shoes or give them to Goodwill to be textile recycled
  • Use a reusable water bottle
  • Take up “Plogging” – Picking up litter while jogging!

Grandma’s Marathon would like to thank all of their sustainability partners including 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.