Grandma’s Marathon: Hannah’s story

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More than 20,000 runners have registered for this year’s Grandma’s marathon races, and every single one of them have a story.

Hannah Koch’s Grandma’s story began when she was just a little girl growing up in Duluth, because her mom encouraged in her a spirit of volunteering.

“She always asked every year. Well, when I was little, she didn’t ask, she’d say, we’re going to go volunteer at five in the morning!”, Hannah told us.

Those early days of volunteering began for Hannah before she was even in kindergarten.

“We filled up all the water and we stacked it up and it was really exciting,” she said. “And I remember watching the elite runners go by and every year I’m like, this is really cool!”

Through this simple act of handing out water to runners, the spirit of Grandma’s marathon captured her heart. It was a bid deal to a little girl.

“It was a little intimidating,” Hannah said. “I mean, they’re all tall, all got long legs. I’m still short, I’m just 4 foot, 11 inches even today, so it was very intimidating. But when they look at you and take the water from you, it was like…they took a water from me! They chose me! Yeah, it was cool hahaha.”

But as is the case with many newly-found passions, people eventually go from being a mere spectator, to a participant. Hannah’s passion for running grew, she’s now run eleven half-marathons.

“Six of them were Grandma’s half marathons, I think four were Eau Claire back in college, and then I did my eleventh in Madison last July,” Hannah said.

But she’s never run a full 26.2 mile marathon … that is, until now.

“Last year I had a friend from Montana come up and she ran the full. Watching the race I was like, I … I feel like I’m missing out! Like I’ve got to do this! And then I thought, I’m still in school, so I get done at noon kind of thing. And I thought, this is a perfect time for me to do it. I can train my long runs on a weekday because I have the time and I just thought, now is the time before I start to work full time and don’t have the free time I do now.”

So, if you see this four foot, eleven inch tall Duluthian out on the course on Saturday, be sure to give her an extra shout of encouragement. And maybe hand her some water.