Overall Rating
Overall Rating (46 Reviews)
4.4
(46 Ratings)(46 Reviews)
DIFFICULTY
2.5
SCENERY
4.3
PRODUCTION
4.5
SWAG
4.1
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

    dwhitehorse FIRST-TIMER '18

    The point to point course is net downhill and is fast the entire length. The views of the lake are scenic and course support is great. Plenty of things to … MORE

    The point to point course is net downhill and is fast the entire length. The views of the lake are scenic and course support is great. Plenty of things to do in and around Duluth and Superior. Great finish line party too!!!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    3

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    BrianYowler FIRST-TIMER '18

    So many things to love here: Point-to-point race Take the train to the start! Giant balloons as mile markers (so motivating to see a balloon!) Beautiful scenery next to the … MORE

    So many things to love here:
    Point-to-point race
    Take the train to the start!
    Giant balloons as mile markers (so motivating to see a balloon!)
    Beautiful scenery next to the lake
    Fun, beautiful area!

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    3

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    lterrill1125 FIRST-TIMER '19

    I died like halfway through the race, and was very dehydrated from not drinking enough water, so it was a slightly more painful experience than other races, however, I really … MORE

    I died like halfway through the race, and was very dehydrated from not drinking enough water, so it was a slightly more painful experience than other races, however, I really did have a good time. The views of Lake Superior are to die for at the beginning.

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    Grammarathon FIRST-TIMER '19

    flat as a pancake. Ride an antique rail car to the start of the race, be ready for a fighter jet flyover, experience the friendliest spectators, beautiful Great Lake views … MORE

    flat as a pancake. Ride an antique rail car to the start of the race, be ready for a fighter jet flyover, experience the friendliest spectators, beautiful Great Lake views and breeze. Party after at Grandma’s, the go to Minneapolis for a few days . Super weekend.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    4

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    ajbalbier FIRST-TIMER '19

    Breathtaking scenery kept me engaged during the entire race. Rolling hills throughout scared me at first but it kept me from getting bored or too sore. Wonderfully put together race. MORE

    Breathtaking scenery kept me engaged during the entire race. Rolling hills throughout scared me at first but it kept me from getting bored or too sore. Wonderfully put together race.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    Profile photo of John Sachs
    jsachs67 FIRST-TIMER '19

    This is a great race. The views are amazing. I would definitely recommend this race. I will be back. I loved how casual everyone was before the race. The fly … MORE

    This is a great race. The views are amazing. I would definitely recommend this race. I will be back. I loved how casual everyone was before the race. The fly over and the train where amazing.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    GoRunGolf FIRST-TIMER '19

    This year I decided to go for the Great Grandma’s Challenge up in Duluth at the Grandma’s Marathon races. It was so much fun😍 My husband and I ran together … MORE

    This year I decided to go for the Great Grandma’s Challenge up in Duluth at the Grandma’s Marathon races. It was so much fun😍 My husband and I ran together as a fun run, and not race it, as I was racing the half marathon the next (early!) morning. The race begins and ends in front of the area where packer pickup is, so that is a plus to be so convenient to the expo and the pasta party! Parking was easy for us, but it is extremely congested downtown. We pulled into the last spot at a small parking area off to the side, and then the barricades went up to block traffic for the race. Side note- you do have to pay for parking everywhere, but they do accept cards at the public lots.
    The race started late because there was a blockage on the railroad tracks from a pizza delivery train. While funny, it only lasted about 5 minutes. They tried their best to send off the runners in waves to alleviate the congestion of the race. The course is super narrow. It was hard to get to the appropriately timed area as everything is blocked off and there are just tons of people.

    The 5k has some rough spots of gravel. I have fallen on gravel and that terrain always makes me nervous. Lots of winding around during the race also. The wind was whipping through and really cooled us down from our workout sweat! Note it was never hot, it was about the perfect temp.
    There was chocolate milk, peanut butter Clif bars of some sort(I’m allergic so that was a bummer) and waters at the end.
    The swag was a nice short sleeved tech shirt in a brilliant blue, and for doing the half marathon the next day, I received an awesome windbreaker jacket!
    When I return in 2020, I will definitely register for the great grandma’s challenge again and enjoy these back to back races!

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    Profile photo of Joni Schwartz
    jonidalen FIRST-TIMER '19

    The first half of the course is relatively downhill with pockets of fans scattered. The views of Lake Superior increase as you progress along the course and an enthusiastic crowd … MORE

    The first half of the course is relatively downhill with pockets of fans scattered. The views of Lake Superior increase as you progress along the course and an enthusiastic crowd cheers you on for the final 6 miles. Be prepared for several turns during the last mile.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    Robinlee21 FIRST-TIMER '19

    Very well organized from registration to the finish line. Communication is spot on, no detail is left out. Packet pick up and the expo has a lot of freebies. The … MORE

    Very well organized from registration to the finish line. Communication is spot on, no detail is left out. Packet pick up and the expo has a lot of freebies. The volunteers are amazing and make this race what it is. The course is mostly flat, tons of water/aid stations. The first few miles you run along the shore of Lake Superior and can hear the waves crashing. The specators are awesome and love to cheer you on. The finish area has plenty of water and snacks. The metal is pretty sweet too.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    4
    SWAG
    5

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    seaton611 FIRST-TIMER '19

    I came to Grandma's with my brother, who wanted to do the 5k AND marathon. I just did the 5k, but experienced the rest of the activities as a spectator. … MORE

    I came to Grandma’s with my brother, who wanted to do the 5k AND marathon. I just did the 5k, but experienced the rest of the activities as a spectator. The rest was amazingly well coordinated from transportation to packet pick up to the actual course. Volunteers were so kind and knowledgeable and the snacks at the end were so tasty.

    I’m usually overwhelmed when I spectate races, but this was a super smooth experience. The 5k was fun and the scenery along the lake was very pleasant. If I can justify another summer trip from Maine to Minnesota, I’d totally do this race again!

    DIFFICULTY
    5
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    Profile photo of Rae Ann Vadnais
    lancevadnais REPEAT RUNNER '19

    It’s a beautiful run. Well marked, plenty of water stops, fantastic crowd support, lots of good food along the route and people are so friendly and helpful! It’s my favorite … MORE

    It’s a beautiful run. Well marked, plenty of water stops, fantastic crowd support, lots of good food along the route and people are so friendly and helpful! It’s my favorite half marathon.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

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    jlrettam REPEAT RUNNER '19

    Grandma's marathon has been on my bucket list for quite some time. My running took a group of about 15 of us down to the race. The expo was fantastic....it … MORE

    Grandma’s marathon has been on my bucket list for quite some time. My running took a group of about 15 of us down to the race. The expo was fantastic….it was quite a Chicago or NYC but it was pretty close! The morning of the race started pretty early, up at 4:30…stretch, eat and grab the shuttle bus. The shuttles went off without a hitch…the entire morning went off without a hitch. There were no corrals…they released all of us at the same time…I’m not sure why, but the race was about 15 minutes late starting for us towards the back. There was great music planning at the start line with plenty of porta potties (but what race can’t use more)
    The course was fantastic, running right along the lake, there was a great breeze! It was hotter and sunnier than we expected so I tried to stay to the left by the tree cover. Course was mostly flat (Lemon Drop Hill) with a couple gradual inclines…but nothing to bad. Entertainment on the course and crowd support was fantastic! Loved the street lined with trolls!
    The finish line was a little long, you went through the chute and it kept curving around and going and going! Volunteers were right there to give you your medal and wrap you with a heat sheet. Loved that you didn’t get your finisher shirt until the end! The lines were smoothly and the volunteers with the friendliest I’ve ever seen! I love this race and would highly recommend to anyone!!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4
    My Media

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    RedjacketRunner FIRST-TIMER '19

    Grandma's marathon has this whole race thing figured out! There are as many volunteers as there are marathon racers! They leave out no detail. The nice fleecy race jackets are … MORE

    Grandma’s marathon has this whole race thing figured out! There are as many volunteers as there are marathon racers! They leave out no detail. The nice fleecy race jackets are mailed out about mid-winter about when training starts. They do a great job keeping you informed leading up to the race. Race busses can pick you up in several locations near Duluth, including over in Wisconsin, or 26 miles north near the start line. The race starts out with a fly-by of two military jets- very cool- and the scenic train takes spectators along the course leaving about the time my group was about a half mile into the run. The spectators are amazing- some cheering sections make you feel like an elite athlete! The entire area from Duluth to Two Harbors makes you feel very welcome with signs all over towns and on businesses saying things like “Welcome Runners! Good Luck!” The official and unofficial aid stations offer everything you could need. I picked up bacon at one and strawberries at another! Yum! The race was fantastic and there were so many great things to do in the area. My family came with me and we made a vacation out of it. It is one of our best yet! I highly recommend the trip out for this race!

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    KittSquires FIRST-TIMER '19

    Very pleasant run. The whole town supports the race, and it's a great size- plenty of people but not as crowded as a major. First part of the course is … MORE

    Very pleasant run. The whole town supports the race, and it’s a great size- plenty of people but not as crowded as a major. First part of the course is quiet and the scenery while pretty is not very inspiring (long straight road with trees on both sides). Lovely roll, enough for a change of pace, but not enough to slow you down. Finish is a bit convoluted, check out the finish line before you run. Lots of fun and recommend it, but not so amazing I’ll go back again.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    3
    SCENERY
    2
    SWAG
    3

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    runnincarrie FIRST-TIMER '19

    This race lives up to the hype and popularity of it. Fantastic Location, beautiful scenery, great course (even Lemon Drop Hill!) - a great course to PR at. The expo … MORE

    This race lives up to the hype and popularity of it. Fantastic Location, beautiful scenery, great course (even Lemon Drop Hill!) – a great course to PR at. The expo and party after the race was sensational. It sure helped that the weather was absolutely perfect. The Swag is awesome, I also volunteered at the 5k the night before the marathons and the swag for that was great! A lot of freebies and services are offered at the Expo as well. Highly recommend this well produced race weekend! Warning: if needed book your accommodations early!

    DIFFICULTY
    4
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    rahavelich FIRST-TIMER '19

    Grandma's marathon is extremely well organized. From the minute you register the communication is clear and you understand what is expected of you. I traveled to this marathon from out … MORE

    Grandma’s marathon is extremely well organized. From the minute you register the communication is clear and you understand what is expected of you. I traveled to this marathon from out of state and stayed with friends in Duluth. The big pick up and expo were organized and easy to get through. I had a good time at the expo! Transportation to and from the race was really nice buses that were on time. Race morning went smoothly and the weather cooperated as a bus to 10,000 runners up for the full marathon and about the same amount for the half marathon. The available toilets were adequate for the crowd and the shoot while being narrow really added to the excitement. Race organizers volunteers and all others involved did a really super job. Course was not overly difficult and the view of Lake superior is worth the price of registration! The water and eight stations were plentiful with super proud support. There was a little bit of everything along the way from beer to fruit to Vaseline to jelly ranchers. The finish line was well staffed with medical and volunteers who helped a lot of dehydrated runners across the finish line. I did not attend any of the parties associated with the marathon but it looks like a good time. I liked it better than Boston and will do it again.

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

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    GoRunGolf REPEAT RUNNER '19

    Get ready for amazing scenery, perfect weather, amazing race vibes and a fun after party! Duluth brings a heavy hitter with their famous Grandma’s Marathon. I ran the Garry Bjorklund … MORE

    Get ready for amazing scenery, perfect weather, amazing race vibes and a fun after party! Duluth brings a heavy hitter with their famous Grandma’s Marathon. I ran the Garry Bjorklund half and it is a smooth operation. The porta potties stretch out at the start for a half mile plus. But they are still packed!!! This is the one flaw of the race. Make sure you get in line for one right away. The coolest thing is you can hear the waves crashing from Lake Superior as you use the potty. Which is a nice unadvertised feature.
    The race has huge balloons at every mile marker, yellow for the full and green for the half. Little cheerleaders in the sky, cheering you on to the next balloon and eventually the finish.
    I ran the great grandma’s challenge and ran the 5k the night before. It was smooth, beautiful and a fun race. We received a nice high quality jacket for doing the challenge. I also ate at the Michellina’s all you can eat past dinner at the race expo. It was good food and convenient! Make sure you go to the expo on Thursday if you like to buy any race gear. By Thursday evening the hats and other long sleeve branded merchandise was completely sold out.

    DIFFICULTY
    2
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5
    My Media

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    sarastew FIRST-TIMER '19

    We stayed at a hotel close enough to walk to the expo/finish area. My husband and I ran the 5k and I did the Great Grandmas Challenge which was the … MORE

    We stayed at a hotel close enough to walk to the expo/finish area. My husband and I ran the 5k and I did the Great Grandmas Challenge which was the 5k and Marathon.

    The expo was fun and they did their best to pack as many vendors in as possible. We went early on Friday to pick up packets and enjoy the expo. Then we went to the Pasta party which was great. There were so many tables and the volunteers were so helpful!!!! The pasta wasn’t bad considering how much they needed to make. When we came back later that afternoon before the 5k event it was PACKED and I think every table for the pasta dinner was seated.

    The course is a point to point that runs the entire time along Lake Superior on your left and beautiful green trees on your right. The course is overall flat and has one small hill called Lemon Drop Hill, that really is easy around mile 22.

    While in the starting shoot we had fighter planes overhead which was amazing! My small grip is that the entire group of almost 7000 marathon runners all started together. What this created was 2 big problems moving forward. 1. A very crowed start that led to over packed porta potties for the first 10 miles and 2. Massive congestion at the aid stations. People were spilling water, tripping, I saw 2 people fall trying to maneuver the crowd to get to the water. A wave start would have been really beneficial.

    For being such a small town I was blown away by the crowd support. For the last 6 mile for so there are so many people I wasn’t expecting it. And it is true, there are some supporters out cooking bacon in their yard to give to you. Hopefully soon I’ll get my blog update to share with you all.

    Overall, the race was great and this small town sure does its absolute best to cater to the mass amount of people who come through.

    DIFFICULTY
    1
    PRODUCTION
    4
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    5

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    jstu417 FIRST-TIMER '19

    The volunteers and organization of this race was incredible! Everyone is so nice. Tons of water stops, even had ice and water sponges. Would highly recommend! MORE

    The volunteers and organization of this race was incredible! Everyone is so nice. Tons of water stops, even had ice and water sponges. Would highly recommend!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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    BrooklandRunner FIRST-TIMER '12

    Minnesota was very kind to me. I guess that's why they call it Minnesota nice. I was distracted as my uncle was very sick. In fact, he passed away the … MORE

    Minnesota was very kind to me. I guess that’s why they call it Minnesota nice. I was distracted as my uncle was very sick. In fact, he passed away the day after the marathon, so I thought about him the entire race. The first half of the race it was warm, so I took it slow. The second half, a cloud covering cooled temperatures, and I was able to lay down the hammer the final 10K. Nice race and very nice people!

    DIFFICULTY
    3
    PRODUCTION
    5
    My Report
    SCENERY
    5
    SWAG
    4

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  1. Races
  2. Grandma's Marathon & Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon