Grandma's Marathon canceled due to COVID-19

Updated: March 31, 2020 06:10 PM

The 44th running of the Grandma's Marathon has been canceled.


Officials with the Marathon announced the difficult decision to cancel this year's Grandma's Marathon and events surrounding the marathon on Tuesday. Grandma's Marathon and the Gary Bjorklund Half Marathon had been scheduled for Saturday, June 20. 

"We can't be putting people in town at risk. And hospital beds are the number one consideration around Grandma's, it's about what the community can handle," explained Shane Bauer, executive director of the marathon. 

Now they'll be able to donate their medical supplies, which include 100 cots, to the medical community if those supplies are needed.

The marathon's medical director, Dr. Ben Nelson, said in a statement, "A few asymptomatic runners, spectators, or volunteers could transmit the virus to hundreds of others. Increased viral transmission would lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases in our region. This would have the potential to overwhelm our medical system and threatens the safety of our community. We expect Duluth's hospitals and medical professionals to be under incredible stress this June. Beds need to be available to treat critically ill coronavirus patients."

This is the first time Grandma's Marathon has been canceled since the initial race in 1977. 

"A lot of things that make the marathon so special, prevent us from doing refunds and deferments. We can't postpone either. We're going to go straight into planning for next year, at this point," Bauer said. 

Race officials say they plan to offer registered runners alternative ideas this year, including a Virtual Race option, discounts on the 2021 Grandma’s Marathon Weekend Races and special offers from some of valued sponsors. More details can be found at

The 45th Anniversary Race Weekend will take place next year on June 18-19, 2021. 

"Don't let this get you down. You can still get out there. Running is one of the things you can still do. We'll come back, and the 45th anniversary will be bigger and better. It will be a blast next year," Bauer added.

The Fitger's 5K originally scheduled for April 18 was postponed until September 12.  Another race that makes up the KP challenge, The Saint Fennessy 4K was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

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