Sports column: Half-marathon experience exceeds expectationsIt’s hard to believe that Grandma’s Marathon has come and gone for another year. It’s the day I look forward to most each summer and, just like every year, it was over and done in just a few short hours.
It’s hard to believe that Grandma’s Marathon has come and gone for another year. It’s the day I look forward to most each summer and, just like every year, it was over and done in just a few short hours.
You may have already read that I was preparing to take part in this year’s festivities, instead of just watching. And take part is exactly what I did.
Under cold and foggy conditions, I completed my first half marathon, and I’m here to say that I now love Grandma’s Marathon even more than I did before I ran.
My official chip time was 2:42:25, but I enjoyed every minute of the experience from the bus ride to the starting line to the bus ride at the end of the race.
I always knew that much of Duluth, too, loved Grandma’s Marathon, but it wasn’t until I ran that I saw how much the city comes together for such a world-class event.
Spectators and volunteers lined the miles of the race- course, providing entertainment and support that could not be topped. In the early morning hours, parents and children lined the streets, ringing cowbells loudly for all runners to hear. Volunteers handed out “water with a smile.” Spectators had posters of the Internet sensation Grumpy Cat.
All of this, for the sake of the runners and the love of Grandma’s Marathon.
Along my way I got a high-five from an adorable puppy (he licked my hand), high-fived a yeti on a trampoline, got a fist bump from an otter, and of course heard the cheers and saw smiles from thousands of people.
I ran through a sprinkler at a friend’s house, and thanked as many spectators and volunteers as I could. I took it all in. It was an exhilarating experience.
Race officials kept everyone on course and kept everyone safe, changing caution flags when needed and clearing the route for the leading contenders. Medical personnel and those who work to keep our city safe on a daily basis were answering the call again, ready to answer the call again if needed.
The day had barely begun when bus drivers safely took runners to the starting lines. As the day went on, volunteers cleaned up cups, sponges and orange peels. Driving down the racecourse on Sunday, you wouldn’t have been able to even tell that nearly 17,000 runners and thousands of volunteers and spectators were on that road just hours before.
I think that the care and dedication that goes into putting on Grandma’s Marathon each year has spoiled me, in case I ever want to run another half marathon. I have been told by runners for years that this race is their favorite each year and now I see why.
Scott Keenan, the rest of the Grandma’s crew, and the city of Duluth does everything right.
I am beyond thankful that I was able to take part in such a well-organized and exciting race. The experience of the Garry Bjorkland Half Marathon is one I will never forget.
And every time I am on the sidelines, I’ll remember fondly the year
I did what I never thought I could.
Duluthian Sarah Packingham writes about sports for the Budgeteer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.