Record-Breaking Decade of Runs For Grandma's Races

WDIO Sports
Updated: June 21, 2019 07:18 PM

Duluth, Minn. - Grandma's Marathon prides itself on being a world class event with small town charm. It's the course along the shore of Lake Superior that continues to attract elite runners to this city. Because of Duluth's charm the running community has been spoiled with the fastest decade in Grandma's Marathon history.

Some of the biggest names in running across the country have helped rewrite the record books of Grandma's Marathon. A majority of them have taken place within the last 10 years.

2012 is one of those years that stands out especially for Duluthians. Grandma's Marathon was put on a national stage hosting the USA Half Marathon Championships. In that race, fans saw their hometown girl and Olympian, Kara Goucher, make a triumphant return home all while shattering the 13.1 mile time to set a new Garry Bjorkland Women's Half Marathon Course Record.

"This is so special to me and I'm just really thankful that USA TF partnered with Grandma's Marathon and that this happened and I was able to come back because this seriously goes down as my most special memory as an athlete, said Goucher in 2012.

The half marathon championships were also held in Duluth the following year in 2013. Although he may have crossed the finish line second in the men's half-marathon, Meb Keflezighi of San Diego, Officially has his name etched into the Grandma's record books today.

"Meb Keflezighi became our record holder years after that event, because the winner ended up getting busted for doping, said Grandma's Marathon Executive Director Shane Bauer.

That same year, Sarah Kiptoo of Kenya set a new course record in the women's marathon.

"Everybody kept saying you are a fast lady, fast lady, keep going. I feel like I can fly," said Kiptoo in 2013. And she decided to celebrate in a big way.

"I think she got a tattoo of the Grandma's Marathon logo on her back when she broke that record," added Bauer.

2014 marked a legendary finish on the men's side of the marathon. After holding the course record for 33 years, Dick Beardsley saw his reign come to an end as Kenya's Dominic Ondoro raced to a new course record that beat Beardsley's time by 31 seconds.

"It stood a long time and I said this for 20 plus years, some day it will be broken and I want to be one of the first people to congratulate that person and I was able to do that, so that was pretty neat. Pretty special for me," said Beardsley in 2014.

As memorable as that moment was, the race was quickly upstaged by the rule of Elisha Barno. After winning his first Grandma's Marathon title in 2015, he's since won the past four straight and will be aiming for a five-peat in the 2019 marathon.

"To come to a for four straight years, he's only run here four times, he's won all four times that's a streak I can't believe will ever be matched," says retired Duluth News Tribune reporter Kevin Pates.

While 2018 marked Barno's fourth marathon title, it was a historic race on the women's side. Kellyn Taylor of Flagstaff, Arizona not only squashed the event record by two minutes, but ran the seventh fastest marathon road time out of any female in U.S. history.

"East African men and women not only dominate in Duluth Minnesota, but dominate world wide American women definitely for sure have made some in roads national marathon running scene and international marathon running scene," says Pates.

With more than 200 elite runners registered for this year's race and a majority gunning for times to qualify for the Olympic Trials in February, expect the competition to be fierce. Assuming Duluth's weather conditions are decent, expect another record breaking year in 2019.

It could be some of the fastest times as a whole you'll see at Grandma's Marathon this year.

WDIO is a major media partner of Grandma's Marathon. Watch for coverage leading up to race day, and live streaming of the Marathon and Half Marathon on all WDIO online platforms.

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