So much more than just a race to Duluthians, mid-June’s Grandma’s Marathon (www.grandmasmarathon.com) is one of the most anticipated dates on Duluth’s events calendar. Though the racers compete on Saturday morning, live entertainment and a health expo run all weekend, plus the post-race party is free and open to the public.
Runners start near Two Harbors and continue along scenic route 61, finishing in Canal Park, outside the namesake restaurant—you can see the finish line year-round. The race, a Boston Marathon qualifier, registers runners on a first-come, first-served basis. The men’s record is 2:09:37, and the women’s is 2:27:05.
A slightly smaller crowd—an estimated 4,000 spectators—converges on Duluth on the last Sunday in January for the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon (218/722-7631, www.beargrease.com). Run since 1981, the marathon is the longest sled dog race in the lower 48 and is an Iditarod qualifier race. Mushers race north from Duluth almost to the Canadian border and back.
The mid-distance race, about 100 miles, starts in Duluth and finishes on the shore of Lake Superior in Tofte. The race is named for the son of an Ojibwe chief who helped the communities of the North Shore survive and grow by delivering mail by dog sled in the late 19th century.
Four thousand skaters follow the same route as Grandma’s in September during the Northshore Inline Marathon (www.northshoreinline.com), the largest inline race in the country and an official World Cup event.
The Bayfront Blues Festival (www.bayfrontblues.com) has the whole town swinging the second weekend in August. Dozens of acts perform on three stages in Bayfront Festival Park, and many area clubs get in on the action as well. Recent headliners have included Buddy Guy and Blues Traveler.
© Tim Bewer from Moon Minnesota, 3rd Edition