Grandma's has big plans for 2011

Executive director Scott Keenan isn't making any predictions, but he'd like to see a record field of 10,000 runners for the 35th Grandma's Marathon on June 18, 2011.

The pack moves through the first mile Saturday morning shortly after the start of this year's Grandma's Marathon in Two Harbors, Minn. Derek Montgomery for the News Tribune

Executive director Scott Keenan isn't making any predictions, but he'd like to see a record field of 10,000 runners for the 35th Grandma's Marathon on June 18, 2011.

Although the 2010 race was less than 24 hours old Sunday morning, Keenan already was looking toward next year's anniversary run from Two Harbors to Canal Park. Registration begins in 11 days on July 1, when the organization unveils a new website design at .

"We're going to do our best to make it a celebration and people are going to want to be part of this race," Keenan said.

In 2008, Grandma's Marathon had a record number of entries with 9,888. That dropped to 8,377 in 2009 and 7,387 on Saturday. Fewer runners were due, in part, to three straight warm-weather races.

It was in the 60s for much of Saturday with significant cloud cover. Gusty westerly winds were the only drawback.


"The weather was favorable and that helped everything else go pretty good all the way around," Keenan said. "There is such tremendous hospitality in this community from the race volunteers and the fans, that I'm hoping runners will be back in bigger numbers next year."

Grandma's Marathon will be offering carrying bags and water bottles to entrants for 2011. The entry fee is $80 through Sept. 30, with increases through May 31, 2011.

The accompanying Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon will choose 5,000 entries from a lottery Feb. 26, 2011. Registration for the lottery is online Feb. 14-25. With the addition of elite runners, the half-marathon had 6,876 entries this year, while another 2,400 applications didn't get into the lottery. Keenan expects to have about 7,000 runners in the 2011 half-marathon.

Barefoot finisher

Elena Gomez of Broken Arrow, Okla., removed her minimalist running shoes about seven miles into her first marathon Saturday because of foot cramps. She tucked the shoes in her shorts and went the remaining 19 miles in bare feet, getting to the Grandma's Marathon finish line in 6 hours and 30 minutes.

There was only one problem - the timing chip tied to her running shoes didn't connect with the electronic ChampionChip mat which records finishing times. Gomez, 28, plans to call race officials today to tell her story with hopes of getting into the official race results.

"My ankles and knees were in pain, and with my shoes off I developed blisters because of the road surface," Gomez said Sunday. "I thought about quitting at 14 miles, but another woman runner came by and mentally kept me going. I'm barely walking today, but I have a feeling of accomplishment."

Gomez, married to Duluthian Shane Baker, has been studying Chinese at the National Taiwan University and is enrolled in the psychology doctorate program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. During her time in Taiwan, where she trained, at times, in bare feet on grass, she suffered a broken foot and was on crutches for eight weeks. She returned to running just five weeks ago.


Running marathons barefoot is hardly unheard of. Dean Laiti of Fridley, Minn., has had numerous finishes at Grandma's Marathon and the Twin Cities Marathon without the benefit of shoes. Laiti, 50, ran the 2009 Grandma's in 4:49:08.

Chesang sets age-group mark

Kenyan Reuben Chesang won the Grandma's Marathon men's masters title, for those 40 and older, in 2:19:30. That broke his 45-49 age-group course record of 2:19:54 set in 2009.

KBJR-TV sportscaster Tom Hansen, 47, of Superior completed the marathon in 6:31:02, while News Tribune news writer Mark Stodghill, 61, of Duluth finished in 3:43:38, eighth in the men's 60-64 age group. Stodghill then drove 315 miles to participate in Sunday's Manitoba Marathon in Winnipeg, finishing in 4:21:52.

What To Read Next
Get Local