Up North: Back-to-back Grandma's Marathon races a success for runners

Alicia Tipcke
Updated: September 16, 2020 10:44 PM

Runners had the unique opportunity to race in both the Minnesota Mile and Fitger's 5K last weekend. However, the back-to-back races meant participants and organizers had less that 24 hours to change gears between runs.

Grandma's Marathon's Fitger's 5K is typically a sign of spring. This year, however, it was postponed due to the pandemic from April to September 12th. It's new date landed one day after the Minnesota Mile on Sept. 11th.  

"We thought that might be fun for the runners to have a mile distance and then a 5K the next day, make a weekend out of it. I think it's worked out pretty well. We're seeing a lot of crossover between the two events," said Grandma's Marathon executive director Shane Bauer.

Around 200 runners participated in the in-person mile Friday and over 400 ran in the 5K Saturday.

After crossing the finish line at the Minnesota Mile on Skyline Parkway, many laced up their shoes less 24 hours later to race on the Lakewalk in Duluth for the Fitger's 5K.

Deborah Sah ran the Mile with her son before racing again the next day.

"It was fine. It was actually a nice warmup [Friday]. We ran in the early afternoon in one of the first blocks. I rested up, didn't sleep the best, but it was fine. It was a good turnaround," said Sah. 

Alice and Rick Morin said while the weather was wetter Saturday, they enjoyed both races.

"It was sunny yesterday [and] very light out. Today it's misting but it's perfect running temperature. It's just so great to be running and to have some sense of normalcy again in the running, exercise world," said Alice. 

Additionally, both races underwent some changes for social distancing.

Organizers put together two time blocks with 10 waves of up to 25 people for the Mile, and three 1.5 hour blocks for the 5K. 

"It was nice because you didn't see many people with masks and we just got to run the race and enjoy it," said Fitger's 5K runner Alexis Nordby.

At the Minnesota Mile, runner Ken Schlais said social distancing was well done by organizers. 

"It felt fine. I thought they did a good job with all the limitations and everything. The way they handled it was pretty good," said Schlais.

Hundreds more registered for virtual versions of the two races. After finding success with these two, Grandma's plans to keep it going with the Nightmare 5K turned 2-miler in October.

"These events are twice as much work when it comes to planning and setup for about half the people. But you're hearing that from everyone right now. We're just happy to have the opportunity to be able to do them," said Bauer. 

"I mean if we can do it like this, we can do it," said Rick Morin.


Alicia Tipcke

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