Overall Rating
Overall Rating (11 Reviews)
4.5
(11 Ratings)(11 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2.3
SCENERY
4.1
PRODUCTION
4.5
SWAG
3.7
Since our initial race in 1977, Grandma’s Marathon has grown bigger than just a 26.2 mile race along the scenic North Shore of Minnesota. It’s a moment where runners of all calibers come together to celebrate the vigor of the human spirit. Where the word “impossible” ceases to exist; a … MORE
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Recent reviews

    Running a marathon in June can be risky if you're like I am, and don't like hot weather. I couldn't believe the weather when we landed (and I checked before … MORE

    Running a marathon in June can be risky if you’re like I am, and don’t like hot weather. I couldn’t believe the weather when we landed (and I checked before I left). 45 degrees and overcast. In my opinion, that’s ideal running weather!

    Getting to Duluth is kind of a pain. Coming from central VA, I flew to Minneapolis, then had to take a three hour van ride to Duluth. Easy to schedule, cheaper than another flight, but kind of a pain. I also took that van ride back after the marathon.

    Hotels in Duluth = jerks. Okay that’s not entirely fair…they want to make money, and so they up-charge you on marathon weekend. One of the most expensive hotels I’ve booked for a marathon, and it was just an old Radisson. Glad I ran it, but ouch. Good thing about that hotel is the location. I walked to and from the expo and the finish line. Good restaurant too, although there are lots of options in Duluth.

    Expo was good. It’s a decent size race, so lots to buy if you’re looking. I ended up getting a fleece because I was freezing. Packet pick up was easy.

    Race morning was pretty straightforward. I walked outside the hotel and took the race bus to 26 miles away to the start. There were plenty of portajohns and also water at the start area. Luckily it never actually rained, it was just misty and foggy, so it wasn’t bad waiting around for a half hour.

    The start went off without a hitch. The course was point to point and ran alongside Lake Superior. It was pretty much flat and had nice scenery. Not a ton of spectators, but pretty good turnout the closer you get to the finish. UMD college kids and frat boys came out in full force (with drinks in hand, they were pretty rowdy) which was fun. The finish area was crowded. I ran with the American flag, so they made a big fuss about that when I came down the homestretch. The medal was decent. Shirt was decent. Nothing crazy but good.

    Overall, it’s not a cheap marathon to run but I really enjoyed it. It’s well organized and executed, the route is scenic, and the aid stations are plentiful. I definitely recommend it.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3
    My Media

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    Profile photo of jim snyder
    JimChicago FIRST-TIMER '17

    How does it feel? Pretty good. This is a flat-ish, point-to-point run along the North Country woods and the beautiful shoreline of Lake Superior. It seems all of little Duluth … MORE

    How does it feel? Pretty good.
    This is a flat-ish, point-to-point run along the North Country woods and the beautiful shoreline of Lake Superior. It seems all of little Duluth is out to cheer and support perhaps the biggest event that happens there all year. The production is spot on perfect and friendly. (Hotels, shockingly expensive, so buddy-up).
    It may be the perfect course for a PR (but watch out for a dozen little turns in the last 1/2 mile) This quirky lil run somehow feels epic and deserves it’s place as a bucket-list for so many.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3
    My Media

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    Profile photo of Jennifer Lu'Becke
    jenniferruns FIRST-TIMER '16

    It was so HOT and my first marathon ever! With that said, it was well organized and an easy, scenic coarse. I was grateful for all of the volunteers passing … MORE

    It was so HOT and my first marathon ever! With that said, it was well organized and an easy, scenic coarse. I was grateful for all of the volunteers passing out water and ice. Volunteers ROCK!

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    Profile photo of Lynn Grieger
    Lynn FIRST-TIMER '16

    Not as flat at the race promotes, but definitely no large hills. Enthusiastic spectators and volunteers with awesome race support. The expo and pasta dinner were a lot of fun. … MORE

    Not as flat at the race promotes, but definitely no large hills. Enthusiastic spectators and volunteers with awesome race support. The expo and pasta dinner were a lot of fun. Stay in a hotel served by the race busses to make getting to and from the race easy.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    5

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    Profile photo of Renee Clasen
    Renee REPEAT RUNNER '16

    Race packet pickup was ridiculous- I had to walk through the entire expo and spaghetti feed to pick up my race packet (like a maze), Shuttle bus up to starting … MORE

    Race packet pickup was ridiculous- I had to walk through the entire expo and spaghetti feed to pick up my race packet (like a maze), Shuttle bus up to starting line was nice, bathroom situation at starting line was awful (waiting line was so painfully long), beautiful scenery along course, aid and water stations a plenty, after the finish line was my big concern. There is very little signage as to where to go once I finished, collected my metal and tee. Another complete maze. I felt trapped and claustraphobic as I couldn’t find food or a way to get out of the maze. Finding a directions to get to the shuttle pickup was another fail. For a marathon in its’ 40th year, organization and flow is not what it should be.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    2
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3

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    Profile photo of Megan Back
    Megan FIRST-TIMER '15

    Grandma's Marathon is a great course, love that it is from city to city. Well-organized. Could be more race swag, as you only get a tshirt and medal. By the … MORE

    Grandma’s Marathon is a great course, love that it is from city to city. Well-organized. Could be more race swag, as you only get a tshirt and medal. By the time I reached the finish line there was no food left at all, which was somewhat of a disappointment as all of the half-marathoners received post-race food.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3

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    Profile photo of Megan Back
    Megan FIRST-TIMER '14

    This is a great point to point half marathon. Nice scenic course, great expo the few days before. Weather is unpredictable in Duluth this time of year, was pretty cold … MORE

    This is a great point to point half marathon. Nice scenic course, great expo the few days before. Weather is unpredictable in Duluth this time of year, was pretty cold for this race but it made for good times!

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    Profile photo of Neil Hetherington
    oldguard88 REPEAT RUNNER '15

    Grandma's is always a winner! Duluth is a very hospitable. Scenery is great. Great restaurants and the race is well organized... very good expo as well. Safe to say they … MORE

    Grandma’s is always a winner! Duluth is a very hospitable. Scenery is great. Great restaurants and the race is well organized… very good expo as well. Safe to say they have it down to a science in Duluth. The weather is always unpredictable!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    Profile photo of Drew Sheppard
    DrewNYC FIRST-TIMER '15

    Anyone looking to do all 50 states (or even just run a marathon in MN) should definitely consider Grandma's. It is a fun weekend and the people you encounter are … MORE

    Anyone looking to do all 50 states (or even just run a marathon in MN) should definitely consider Grandma’s. It is a fun weekend and the people you encounter are all mid-west nice!

    TRAVEL:
    Duluth is a small airport and there are very few direct flights. Book your hotel as soon as you register (if not before). Rooms book fast and rates are higher marathon weekend – so be prepared. There are race day shuttle buses from several locations, so don’t be afraid to stay at a hotel a little further away from the start.

    RACES:
    I didn’t sign up for the Friday night 5k (at 6pm), but wish I had. The half marathon starts 90 minutes before the full, which I thought was great (the half marathoners might not have agreed!). You need to take one of the buses to the start line. You arrive there about 1 hour before the start of the race. This year (2015) there was POURING down COLD rain – not pleasant. Be prepared with a poncho and/or extra clothes. Things seemed a little chaotic with the bag drop off and the port-o-potty lines, but I couldn’t identify why.

    EXPO:
    I found the expo to be a little underwhelming for the size of the race. It is possible that I just didn’t like the layout. The vendors seemed squished together while a large portion of the space was dedicated to the pasta dinner. I did the pasta dinner and I found that easy and enjoyable – always great talking with other runners pre-race. Note: you don’t get the race shirt until after crossing the finish line.

    COURSE:
    Mostly flat. It is a point to point course (which I like), near water (again, which I like). Adequate water and Powerade stops. They could use a few more port-o-potties, but which race couldn’t.

    BLING:
    Nice medal and as state above, you receive the official shirt after crossing the finish line.

    It was a fun weekend and a good race despite the rain at the start.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    3

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    Profile photo of Daniel Otto
    Otter FIRST-TIMER '13

    If you like running in a mostly-straight line alongside massive freshwater lakes, then have I got a race for you! Grandma's Marathon is a late-June race in northern Minnesota that … MORE

    If you like running in a mostly-straight line alongside massive freshwater lakes, then have I got a race for you! Grandma’s Marathon is a late-June race in northern Minnesota that (usually) features typical fall race conditions, thanks to Duluth’s relatively high latitude.

    Runners are bused to the start line from a few different drop-off points, where a packed & crowded start line gradually spreads out over the opening miles. If you’re a runner that thrives off of crowd support, then this may not be the race for you; aside from aid station volunteers, you won’t see much of anyone until you reach the college about 20 miles into the race, where early-rising students will be more than happy to hand you a full beer for enhanced carbohydrate replenishment.

    I can only remember 1 or 2 hills of note, as most of the course is flat and/or very gently rolling. The final few miles of the race travel insidiously over cobblestone streets (WHY?!), and the final 3/4-mile of the race features no fewer than 2,000 turns. The post-race party rocked under the big tent, and I’m certain that I was overserved in the end.

    Overall, Grandma’s is a biggish marathon with a nice small-town charm, and one that I’d recommend.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    3
    SWAG
    4

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    Profile photo of Dan Solera
    dansolera FIRST-TIMER '12

    If you've ever wanted to run a marathon in what is basically a straight line next to a giant lake, then Grandma's Marathon is the race for you. It begins … MORE

    If you’ve ever wanted to run a marathon in what is basically a straight line next to a giant lake, then Grandma’s Marathon is the race for you. It begins in Two Harbors and cuts southwest toward Duluth. Held in late June, it can be either warm and muggy or cool. The production is top-notch, with buses shuttling runners from various local hotels to the start, aid stations well stocked and a post-race party with a smorgasbord of local offerings. Expect small-town charm from Duluth, but aside from that, there’s not much else going for it. Stay in Minneapolis and drive up if you can.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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