• 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
2022 winter challenge

The Winter Challenge Was… Well, A Challenge

Just because things are inevitable doesn’t make them any easier.

In November, the ongoing health issues around the world made it clear we’d have to cancel our regularly scheduled Saturday Morning at the Races program for area kids. With that program gone, we needed a replacement.

OK, good. Next came the hard part, though, coming up with an idea.

We wanted to create something fun and engaging – these are kids, after all – and we didn’t want a program that caused parents to groan with one more activity to manage. Many of our own staff have experienced the hard truth — when schools and almost every other part of our life changed, not every virtual replacement program was created equal.

Before our new idea was born, we enlisted help from the experts – physical education teachers. They’d been trying to keep kids active from afar for months, and we wanted our program to be in line with what they were hoping to accomplish. So, with the help of educators from the Duluth, Hermantown, Proctor, and Superior school districts, the YAF Winter Challenge was born.

Actually, one of the hardest parts at the beginning was deciding on a name. Some of the honorable mentions from the cutting room floor:

  • Kids on the Move
  • Kids MOVEMent
  • Snow Much Fun
  • Saturday Mornings at Home
  • Getting Active with Alivia

That last one was not a favorite of mine, but some of the other staff here got a kick out of it.

The goals of the YAF Winter Challenge are very simple. We were aiming to do three things:

  1. Promote the YAF’s mission of developing and promoting healthy lifestyles for children.
  2. Provide helpful tools and incentives for children 14 and under to stay active this winter.
  3. Ensure activities are easily achievable for all children regardless of access to equipment and transportation and without requiring any prior knowledge or skill.

Finding activities that don’t require any (or at least limited) equipment is harder than you think. You need ice skates to go skating or play hockey, but some rinks do have them available for free. In the end, we had to admit that some activities we chose are even a stretch on that theory. Case in point, you can go sledding without a sled, just slide down on your butt!

We wanted to do our best to make this an engaging program for kids and not just a list of activities with a free bag of goodies and snacks. So, we asked local colleges to help show kids how to do some of the activities and offer encouragement. St. Scholastica, UMD, and UW-Superior all donated their time to help us out. 

We added a community resources page on our website – you should check it out here. In creating that page, I learned about things I never knew people were doing in this area despite living here for 23 years now. Yes, winters are long and hard in northern Minnesota, but there is plenty to do if you know where to look. What we were doing is making it easier for people to look.

While I am excited to get back to in-person events and to spend my Saturday Mornings in January and February at an indoor track watching kids run (and sometimes fall down), I think the YAF Winter Challenge might be here to stay.

We have almost 400 kids registered so far (you can still register your kids here), and we were able to expand our geographic reach greatly to kids who would never be able to make it to Duluth or the surrounding areas (hello to my friends in Nebraska!).

Despite a pandemic, the Young Athletes Foundation has found new and creative ways to do some good in our communities. I’m proud of what we’ve created, and I am sure that there is much more to come in 2021!


Get to Know the Staff

Name: Alivia Nelson

Years at Grandma’s Marathon: <1 year as full-time staff. I’ve helped as a seasonal employee since I was 15 and grew up around the event since my parents are both involved.

Favorite Grandma’s Marathon Memory: In 2016 I convinced six of my friends who were not runners to run the full marathon. Most of them had never run more than a mile in gym class and getting to watch them do all the training and cross the finish line was perfect. Some of them have sworn off running but a few have become repeat marathoners.

Favorite Food: Ice Cream

Favorite TV show: Gilmore Girls or Reality TV

Favorite Music Genre: Early 2000’s pop

Best Odd Job: My parents own a toy store, so on weekends during the holidays I get to live out my own “Hallmark movie” experience.

Favorite Hobby: Recycling

Best Concert You’ve Ever Seen: I saw Drake Bell from Drake and Josh in concert in college.

Favorite State: Vermont. My favorite thing about it is how much it reminds me of Minnesota, though.

New Year’s Resolution: I have lots of things on my to-do list for 2021, including learning to do a push-up, learning to sew, and helping to put on a marathon.

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.