GRANDMA’S MARATHON A GO FOR JUNE 2021
Minnesota Plans to Loosen COVID-19 Restrictions Before Race Weekend
DULUTH, MN: The 45th annual Grandma’s Marathon weekend has received the green light for June, which comes as Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced a loosening of the state’s public health guidelines on Thursday afternoon.
“This is a great day not just for Grandma’s Marathon but for our community as well,” Executive Director Shane Bauer said. “So many people had a hand in making this event a reality this year, and to be here today with the final approval is a testament to the effort everyone’s put in. Our staff can’t thank our state and local partners enough for their tireless work, and we look forward to once again welcoming our participants to the unofficial kickoff to summer in Duluth.”
“I am so excited to welcome Grandma’s Marathon back to the streets of Duluth!” Duluth Mayor Emily Larson added. “Last year many of us participated in Grandma’s virtual races – I loved the flexibility Grandma’s awarded us as runners, but it’s just not the same as the Canal Park finish. It’s truly one of my favorite days in the year. We are thrilled to welcome runners back to Duluth and participate in a safe and well-planned event.”
While the updated state guidelines provide a clear path forward for the 2021 Grandma’s Marathon, organizers say more specific updates as to how they will change the current race weekend plan will be announced in the coming days.
A loosening of the state’s public health guidelines, announced last week by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, has paved the way for the return of two traditional and popular pieces of Grandma’s Marathon weekend. Based on the Governor’s expected timeline of eliminating capacity limits and distancing requirements, organizers say they will now be able to welcome spectators on race weekend and host a post-race celebration.
“Those things were crossed off pretty early in our planning process based on the previous guidelines, and the result was going to be a very different feeling come race weekend” Executive Director Shane Bauer said. “Bringing those pieces back will not only amplify the experience of our participants, but it’s great for our community members who wait all year to be part of Grandma’s Marathon weekend.”
Spectators were originally discouraged from attending this year’s Grandma’s Marathon, but the updated guidance will now allow those who wish to watch the races to do so.
“It’s great to be adding that community aspect back into our plans for June,” Race Director Greg Haapala said. “That said, we will be keeping some of the mitigation tactics in place to help keep some of those large groups from forming, and we ask that everyone who does attend is mindful and respectful of others.”
The post-race celebration will be in a new location this year, moving from near the finish line in Canal Park to Bayfront Festival Park. Live musical acts will be featured throughout race day, and admission will be free for all ages in celebration of the 45th anniversary of Grandma’s Marathon.
“The move to Bayfront is an exciting change for this year’s Grandma’s Marathon,” Finance & Operations Director Linda Hanson said. “It’s a great Duluth venue built for the very thing we want to do – come together and celebrate with our participants, our many partners, and our community that supports us year round. To be given the opportunity to bring this event back into our planning means so much because it’s not only a tradition, it’s how we say thank you to everyone for a job well done.”
Amid the excitement of what the new guidelines allow, organizers want to remind anyone planning on participating, volunteering, or attending Grandma’s Marathon that personal responsibility will still play a major role in the weekend’s overall success.
“This is still a large event that involves people from all over the country, from all different walks of life, and potentially with many different comfort levels,” Marketing & Public Relations Director Zach Schneider said. “We want everyone involved to feel as comfortable and as safe as possible, so we encourage everyone to take proper precautions in terms of masks and distancing even in areas it’s not technically required by the guidance.”
It’s expected that Grandma’s Marathon will be one of the country’s first major running events to return following the COVID-19 pandemic, so plenty of eyes will be on Duluth this June.
“This is our chance to do a really big thing and do it well,” Schneider said. “We want people to enjoy themselves, to feel safe, and to say good things about our race and our community when they leave here. Grandma’s was built on the idea of community coming together, and we need that in a different but critically important way this year.”
Masks or face coverings, according to the expected guidelines, will be required in all race-controlled areas with more than 500 people in attendance. Organizers expect that to include the start and finish areas, Bayfront Festival Park, the Michelina’s All-You-Can-Eat Spaghetti Dinner, and the Essentia Health Fitness Expo.
As in the originally released plan, participants will not be required to wear a mask or face covering while actively participating in their race.
The 45th annual Grandma’s Marathon weekend will be held June 17-19, 2021. For more information, please call our office at (218) 727-0947 or visit grandmasmarathon.com.
ABOUT GRANDMA’S MARATHON
Grandma’s Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. Grandma’s Marathon weekend draws approximately 20,000 participants for its three-race event each June.
The race got its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma’s Restaurants, the first major sponsor of the Marathon. Over time, the level of sponsorship with the restaurants changed, but the name stayed the same. Grandma’s Marathon-Duluth, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization with a 17-member Board of Directors and a nine-person, full-time staff.