Updated: May 11, 2021 05:32 PM
Created: May 11, 2021 11:00 AM
Spectators will be allowed at this year's Grandma's Marathon and there will be a post-race celebration after all, but in a different location.
Organizers announced the changes to their plans Tuesday following Gov. Tim Walz's announcement about loosening capacity limits and distancing requirements. Though spectators will now be allowed, organizers will use mitigation tactics in an effort to prevent large groups from forming.
"People who come down to the finish line area will notice some obstructed sightlines, some viewpoints that used to be available that won't be this year, just in an effort to try and do our part to encourage people to disperse and keep their distance from other people," Director of Marketing & Public Relations Zach Schneider said.
The post-race celebration will move to Bayfront Festival Park, rather than its traditional spot near the finish line in Canal Park. The Bayfront event will feature live musical acts throughout race day, June 19, and will be free of charge.
Grandma's Finance & Operations Director Linda Hanson said the move to Bayfront is an exciting change.
"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," Hanson said in a news release.
The race weekend will also include the Michelina's All-You-Can-Eat Spaghetti Dinner and the Essentia Health Fitness Expo. Organizers expect that the events will be large enough to require masks under state guidelines.
Runners may also have to wear masks in the start and finish areas, but will not be required to wear them while running.
With the event attracting people from all over the country, Schneider said they continue to encourage people to take personal responsibility to stay healthy.
"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," Schneider said.
Executive Director Shane Bauer acknowledged that a marathon without spectators or a celebration would have made the race weekend very different than usual.
"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," Bauer said.
Grandma's Marathon is expected to be one of the nation's the first major running events following the pandemic shutdowns, which included Grandma's in 2020.
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