Sports column: Duluth mayor prepares for Garry Bjorklund Half MarathonBorn and raised in Duluth, our Mayor Don Ness has been around Grandma’s Marathon for his entire life, and it’s something he can’t picture the city without.
Born and raised in Duluth, our Mayor Don Ness has been around Grandma’s Marathon for his entire life, and it’s something he can’t picture the city without.
“It’s an iconic event that highlights so much of what we love about Duluth,” he said. Scott [Keenan] and his team put on a world-class event that reflects well on our city. What does it mean to us? It’s hard to imagine Duluth without Grandma’s Marathon.”
This year, Ness will be competing in his first half marathon as part of the Grandma’s Marathon weekend festivities, when he takes part in the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon.
“I’ve always wanted to, and each year while watching the race I tell myself I should do it,” Ness said. “Why now, and not any previous year? My brother Patrick is running and encouraged me to join him. That’s the primary reason.”
How does the husband, father of three, and mayor of Duluth have time to train for a half-marathon?
“I don’t,” he said. “The toughest part is finding the consistent rhythm to my training.”
There are times where Ness is able to get in a few consecutive days of training, but then a few days later,
he finds it nearly impossible to get a run in.
“That just doesn’t work well for distance-training,” he said.
Though it is challenging to train, Ness, a lifelong athlete, is looking forward to the experience of Grandma’s Marathon weekend from a different perspective, even if he’s not sure that distance running suits him all that well.
“I’ve always loved to run, but I was a sprinter in high school, and once you have the mindset, it can be difficult to ease into an hour-long run,” Ness said. “But I’m enjoying it more this year than I have in the past. As I get older, I’m enjoying the more casual pace of things.”
Although he’s enjoying the casual pace, it’s been a challenge to learn to shorten his stride.
“I’ve been running a certain way all my life, focused on speed versus endurance, and my over-striding is less efficient and puts too much stress on my body,” he said. “I’m still working on that.”
Ness’ goals for the race are modest: “To finish,” he said. “Hopefully
I can keep up with my brother Patrick.”
This year is the 37th running of the full marathon and the 22nd year of the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon.
Ness and his competitors begin their race at 6:45 a.m. Saturday,
Duluthian Sarah Packingham writes about sports for the Budgeteer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.