Grandma’s Marathon honors 90-year-old runner

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On Sunday, June 18, 90-year-old Dorothy Spencer was presented with the 2023 Scott A. Keenan Founder’s Award.

She was presented with the award by Scott Keenan, the founding executive director of Grandma’s Marathon. Spencer, who is a member of the inaugural class of the Grandma’s Marathon Hall of Fame, was referred to by Keenan as second mother following her more than four decades of contributions which embodies the history, vision, and spirit of the race.

Spencer moved to Duluth in 1975 with her husband Rick and soon after became a mainstay of the North Shore Striders. The Spencer home was the early headquarters of Grandma’s Marathon, and Keenan credits Dorothy not only with sharing his vision for the race, but also with keeping things organized.

Following a move to Minnetonka in 1979 followed shortly after by Rick’s death in 1980, Dorothy continued to return each Grandma’s Marathon week to help with the race. Her duties ranged from answering phones and planning the post-race awards ceremony to helping out at the finish line on race day. She even completed the 26.2-mile race twice and now resides in a lake home near Tomahawk, Wisconsin.

Spencer ran this year’s William A. Irvin 5K and posted a new personal best time of 43:53 in the 30th annual event. The award was presented to her at a post-race reception following this year’s race, making her the seventh person to receive the award.