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Wheelchair athlete Krige Schabort of Cedartown, Ga., celebrates at the finish line of Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth on June 22, 2013. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)
Wheelchair athlete Krige Schabort of Cedartown, Ga., celebrates at the finish line of Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth on June 22, 2013. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

Grandma's Marathon: Defending men’s champ highlights wheelchair field

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sports Duluth, 55802

Duluth Minnesota 424 W. First St. 55802

One defending wheelchair champion is entered, and the other is not for Saturday’s 38th edition of Grandma’s Marathon.

South African Krige Schabort of Rome, Ga., who won his fourth Grandma’s title at age 49 last year, is among 28 competitors in the men’s 26.2-mile race. Scha­bort set a Grandma’s personal-best time of 1 hour, 24 minutes, 12 seconds last year to capture his first Duluth title since 2008. He also won in 2005 and 2006.

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Schabort placed third at this year’s Los Angeles Marathon in 1:38:04.

Rafael Jimenez of Spain, winner of the 2007 Grandma’s Marathon and runner-up in 2010, also is entered. Aaron Pike, a 28-year-old from Urbana, Ill., who placed second at Grandma’s in 2012, has entered as well.

Seven-time women’s winner and course record-holder Amanda McGrory of Savoy, Ill., is unable to attend as she is participating in the U.S. Paralympics Track & Field National Championships this weekend in San Mateo, Calif.

Susannah Scaroni, 22, who trains with McGrory at the University of Illinois and was runner-up to her in each of the past two Grandma’s, has the best time (1:38:33) among the few women entrants.

Entry numbers

A total of 7,964 runners have entered Grandma’s Marathon, making it the 16th-largest marathon in the country.

A record 8,498 entries were received for the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, surpassing the high of 7,835 set last year. A record 6,618 runners finished the race in 2013.

Another 2,029 are signed up for Friday’s William A. Irvin 5K, meaning 18,491 participants are registered for this weekend’s races.

Iron Three streak continues

The most enduring streak in Grandma’s Marathon history is expected to continue as the three runners who have completed every race since the inaugural one in 1977 are entered.

Former Minnesota Duluth pole vaulter and Two Harbors native John Naslund, 64; retired high school physical education teacher Joe C. Johnson, 64, of Menominee, Mich.; and Duluth native Jim Nowak, a retired high school special education teacher from Reedsburg, Wis. — collectively known as the Iron Three — are all entered for the 38th consecutive time.

Naslund also holds the distinction of completing all 32 Twin Cities Marathons from Minneapolis to St. Paul.

Keenan to enter hall

Scott Keenan, race director for the first 37 years of the marathon, will be inducted into the 2014 Grandma’s Marathon Hall of Fame.

Keenan, then-president of Northland running club North Shore Striders, organized the first race of 150 runners in 1977. Under his direction, Grandma’s grew into one of the largest and highest-regarded marathons in the United States.

The induction ceremony will be held during the runners’ award ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the DECC’s Lake Superior Ballroom.

other Award winners

This year’s winner of the 15th annual Marsh Nelson Media Award will not be given to a single individual but rather a publication.

Marathon & Beyond, a bi-monthly magazine which provides advice, forums and training programs to marathon and ultra-distance runners, will be honored at noon Friday at the Lake Superior Ballroom.

For the 30th anniversary of Grandma’s Marathon, the magazine produced Grandma’s Marathon & Beyond, a commemorative issue showcasing the history and highlights of the event’s first three decades.

  • A trio of Duluth city workers will be presented with the ninth annual Rudy Perpich Service Award at an award ceremony breakfast at 7 a.m. Thursday in the Great Hall at the Radisson Hotel, 505 W. Superior St. in Duluth. Jim Benning, Bob LeDoux and Earl Stewart will be given the award that recognizes public employees and elected officials who have exhibited dedication to the event by contributing time, energy and expertise.
  • Joanie Holst is the winner of the Ron Daws Ambassador Award, in honor of the Minnesota native and 1968 Olympian who became an ambassador of Grandma’s Marathon and the development of road racing in the state until his death in 1992. Holst has helped coordinate and provide post-race massage therapy for runners for nearly 25 years.
  • Gordy Anderson and Mike Persing were named the recipients of the Verizon Wireless Award of Excellence. Anderson, past president of the Two Harbors Chamber of Commerce, was the coordinator at the marathon’s start line in Two Harbors for about 15 years before stepping aside from that position. Persing has volunteered as one of the marathon’s elite athlete massage therapists for 24 years.

Et cetera

Four guest speakers are lined up to give presentations Friday at the Edmund Fitzgerald Hall at the DECC.

Two-time Grandma’s Marathon men’s champion Doug Kurtis, the world-record holder for most sub-2:20 marathons (76) and most marathon victories (39), will speak at 1 p.m. Kurtis has finished 200 marathons in under 3 hours.

Ann Sudoh, an orthopedics doctor at Essentia Health clinics in Duluth, Superior and Hibbing and the medical director for Minnesota Duluth athletics, will discuss her passion for athletics and fitness as a way for people to stay active and healthy at 2 p.m.

Ultrarunner and mountaineer Marshall Ulrich, who has climbed Mount Everest and all Seven Summits, crossed Death Valley on foot a record 22 times and authored “Running on Empty,” a memoir of his transcontinental crossing at age 57, will speak at 3 p.m.

Dick Beardsley, winner of the 1981 and ’82 Grandma’s Marathons and course record-holder, will discuss his series of accidents, injuries and life-altering events at 4 p.m.

  • The Essentia Health Fitness & Health Expo kicks off Thursday with a two-day, free event at the DECC Arena. The event, where exhibitors will showcase the latest products and services in the athletic industry, runs from 5-9 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday.
  • Whipper Snapper Races for Kids will kick off running activities at 2 p.m. Friday at Bayfront Festival Park. Approximately 1,000 children ages 14 and under are expected. Registration begins at noon.

38th Grandma’s Marathon

What: The 16th-largest marathon in the United States

Where: 26.2 miles along North Shore Drive from Two Harbors to Canal Park Drive

Who: Field of 7,964 (4,433 men, 3,531 women)

When: 7:45 a.m. Saturday (wheelchair start 7:40 a.m.)

At stake: Prize money of $100,000 ($10,000 each to men’s and women’s winners)

Expo: At DECC, 5-9 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday

Radio: WEBC-AM 560 and webc560.com at 6 a.m.

Information: (218) 727-0947; www.grandmasmarathon.com

24th Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon

What: The 58th-largest half-marathon in the United States

Where: 13.1 miles along North Shore Drive from Talmadge River to Canal Park Drive

Who: Sold-out capacity field of 8,498 (3,349 men, 5,149 women)

When: 6:15 a.m. Saturday

At stake: Prize money of $26,100 ($3,000 each to men’s and women’s winners)

21st William A. Irvin 5K

Where: 3.1 miles starting and finishing on Harbor Drive

Who: Sold-out capacity field of 2,029 (746 men, 1,283 women)

When: 6 p.m. Friday

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