Grandma's Marathon: Lindwurm highlights list of five elite women's runners to watch
The defending champion from Minnesota is looking to join an elite group of repeat winners at Grandma's Marathon.
DULUTH — Only three women have ever won consecutive titles at Grandma’s Marathon since the race began in 1977, with Mary Akor being the most recent when she three-peated in 2009.
Dakotah Lindwurm of Eagan, Minnesota, is in a position to become the fourth to ever do so as the favorite when the 46th Grandma’s Marathon gets underway at 7:45 a.m. on Sunday in Two Harbors. The winner is estimated to arrive at the finish line at Canal Park in Duluth around 10:10 a.m.
Akor, of the U.S., went back-to-back-to-back in 2007, 2008 and 2009, with her last victory in 2009 coming by a mere six seconds over Alina Ivanova in the second-closest finish ever for the women’s title.
Lorraine Moller of New Zealand was the first woman to go back-to-back and three-peat from 1979-1981. Fira Sultanova-Zhdanova of Russia won back-to-back at Grandma’s in 2003 and 2004.
Of the approximately 80 elite entrants signed up for this year’s race, here’s a look at the top contenders that are vying for the $10,000 first-place prize:
Five elite women to watch at 2022 Grandma’s Marathon
The Defending Champ
Dakotah Lindwurm, 27, United States
Personal record: 2:29:04 (2021 Grandma’s Marathon)
A former hockey goaltender from Section 7AA for Northern Tier (St. Francis/Cambridge-Isanti/North Branch), Lindwurm became the first Minnesotan to win Grandma’s Marathon since Janis Klecker in 1987. Her time of 2:29:04 last year was the fastest ever for a Minnesotan at Grandma’s, third fastest for an American and the sixth fastest time ever in the race. Lindwurm returns to Duluth coming off two top-15 finishes in the Boston Marathon with a 2:29:55 time this spring to finish 14th.
Jane Bareikis, 27, United States
PR: 2:33:54 (2021 Grandma’s Marathon)
Bareikis made her Grandma’s Marathon debut a year ago and finished fifth in 2:33:54, which almost mirrors Lindwurm’s first experience at Grandma’s Marathon in 2019 when she finished fourth in 2:34:02. Bareikis has already tasted victory this year, winning the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Nashville, one of three half marathons she’s run in 2022.
Esther Wanjiru, 34, Kenya
PR: 2:29:17 (2021 Cape Town Marathon)
Since she began running marathons in 2011, Wanjiru has never finished outside of the top six of any race she’s run. Making her debut in Duluth at Grandma’s, she has eight marathon victories on her resume and is coming off a sixth-place finish in the 2021 Cape Town Marathon, where she set a personal record.
The Young Gun
Sophie Seward, 25, United States
PR: 2:33:23 (2019 Grandma’s Marathon)
One of the younger runners in the elite field this year, Seward has already posted two top-10 finishes in her career at Grandma’s Marathon, including third in 2019. Seward ran in the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2020, but finished a disappointing 71st with a time of 2:42:26. It’s one of the few marathons she’s run since Grandma’s in 2019.
The Olympic Hopeful
Sarah Sellers, 30, United States
PR: 2:31:48 (2020 U.S. Olympic Trials)
Sellers’ first appearance at Grandma’s Marathon will be a comeback of sorts after giving birth to a daughter in January 2021. Sellers was within 3 minutes of making the last U.S. Olympic team after finishing 11th at the 2020 Olympic Trials. She finished second at the 2018 Boston Marathon and posted a pair of top-20 finishes in Boston and Chicago in 2019. Sellers has run a pair of half marathons in 2022, finishing third in both.
The champ is back! 🥇— Grandma's Marathon (@GrandmasMara) June 6, 2022
Dakotah Lindwurm returns to defend her Grandma's Marathon title and headlines a very fast, talented women's elite field.
To check out the full #gmas22 women's elite field 👉 https://t.co/ScGiNFQzQX https://t.co/NRoYCNkyA0 pic.twitter.com/y4AhIzxByR