ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Tom West: Best thing about Grandma's is the memories

One can tell that Grandma's Marathon is getting close. Instead of one or two joggers passing through the neighborhood each day, the number is up to five or six. Not only that, but none of them look like the doctor told them they had to lose weight.

We are part of The Trust Project.

One can tell that Grandma's Marathon is getting close. Instead of one or two joggers passing through the neighborhood each day, the number is up to five or six. Not only that, but none of them look like the doctor told them they had to lose weight.
The people running through the neighborhood now are moving nice and easy, as if they could run all the way to Two Harbors -- or vice versa.
At our house, the excitement is building as well. That's because for the first time we are scheduled to have a participant in the race. Our daughter is coming home to give it a whirl.
At our house, each person is noted for a certain activity. Our son likes to climb (mountains). My wife likes to kneel (in the garden). I like to sit. (Desk job, you know.) Our daughter likes to run.
Almost half her life ago, she participated in the state track meet as a 4 x 200 relay team member. Her team was made up of three sophomores and a senior. They won the sectional by almost half a lap. At the state meet, they were among seven teams within a stride of each other as the last handoff was made. Her team suffered a moment's hesitation on the last handoff, as the third runner couldn't quite reach the anchor's hand in stride. They came in sixth, no small achievement, but felt like failures. A few tears fell before they climbed the stand to pick up their medals.
It seemed like their potential was unlimited, but the three sophomores and a new team member never made it back to the state tournament. Still, the running bug had bitten our daughter, and she continues to run on her own.
She is not a contender to win. Like most of the runners, she is participating against herself and looking forward to enjoying the scenery.
She wrenched her back late in the winter, and that set back her training regimen. The only way she would contend is if she pulled a stunt like Rosie Ruiz, and caught a cab from Knife River to Glensheen.
But that's the way it is for most of the participants. The neat thing about Grandma's is that for many it is not so much a race as a gathering with friends and family. For some people it is a reunion of sorts. In our case, it is the family getting together, but for others, Grandma's is a time to meet up with old friends, or a good excuse for a family vacation.
Among those aspects of Marathon weekend that make it more than a race are activities like the fitness expo, spaghetti dinner and the nightly entertainment.
Last year, at the spaghetti dinner, we sat across from some folks from Iowa who were planning to walk the marathon. The year before, the truck came along behind them, picking up the pylons. The woman, in her 60s and not shaped like the svelte, young gazelles who one sees running along Duluth's boulevards these days, was undaunted. She had so much fun that she was looking forward to it again.
In my case, while the spaghetti dinner is still appealing (My favorite position is sitting, remember.), for me this marathon will bring back memories of countless track meets that I attended a dozen or more years ago. I can remember meets on days so cold that if one were to sit on the metal bleachers available, one's derriere might suffer permanent damage. I remember being awed by the stars of the day: Heather Van Norman of Windom, who was then the girls' version of Central's Rolando Peco, and Jeannie Kruckeberg of Blooming Prairie, who would have provided tough competition for East's Kendall Wheeler.
And I remember the clattering of the bar falling in the high jump or pole vault, the clanging of a kicked over hurdle and the spellbinding coiling of tension in each meet's final event, the 4 x 400 relay.
Saturday, mostly I will watch our daughter run and remember years past when she ran like the wind, and today when she continues to run for the sheer joy of it.
Thousands of families and friends will be making new memories Saturday. Our family is proud to be a part of this year's Grandma's Marathon.
Tom West is the executive editor of the Budgeteer News. He may be reached by telephone at 723-1207 or by e-mail at tom.west@duluth . com.

What To Read Next
The system crashed earlier this month, grounding flights across the U.S.