Saturday, June 17, 2017

Marathoners Making Memories at Grandma's

"Running allows me to set my mind free. Nothing seems impossible. Nothing unattainable."
--Kara Goucher

If you're going to run a marathon, you can't pick a more beautiful setting, 26 miles alongside the largest freshwater lake in the world. It's Grandma's Marathon weekend here in Duluth, the biggest spectacle of the year in this port town on the tip of Lake Superior.

For many years I have avoided the congestion produced by massive quantities of runners, friends, families and fans by staying outside of town for the weekend. But having tackled my first 5K last night, and feeling somewhat greater kinship to the packs of runners assaulting our streets, I decided to head down to Mile 23 (Mile 10 for the half marathoners) on London Road (Valentini's) to be a part of the Bob Dylan contingent led by KUMD's Highway 61 Revisited host John Bushey. After all, this is the historic Highway 61 here that all these runners are tramping upon, so the speakers are all set up and blaring even before the first runners arrive.

The weather couldn't be better, an overcast sky for the early part of the race keeps the sun from taking its toll, and not too chilly, perfect for running.

The first wave features the Garry Bjorklund half marathoners, their starting point begin just south of the New Scenic Cafe. Someone said there were 8,000 of them, and when they begin coming by it's like a bell curve with the outliers leading the way. Eventually its the masses, and since we're ten miles into this thing you can see who is and is not having an easy go of it. Before we reach the tail of the half marathoners a car clears the way for the wheelchair racers, men wearing bulging biceps and helmets, flying fast in their specially designed equipment. These troopers began the race in Two Harbors.

After a little while, while straggling half marathoners continue their parade, the pace car for the full marathon comes into view, breaking over the rim of Lemon Drop Hill. As the car glides past we find that a lone Kenyan is running in its wake. A little further back a second, then a bit further till we have two more and another. I overhear someone saying they run like gazelles, smooth and effortless, and I agree, the leaders seem to glide.

The Dylan music blares on, with a lot of live versions of familiar songs. Crowds cheer on these live concert tapes, and at times it sounds like a crowd cheering for the runners, many of whom smile and acknowledge the presence of our Dylan contingent.

Here are a few more photos that might help give a feel for the event and the weekend.

"I will get by... I will survive."
(EdNote: Did not run marathon... only the 5K)

See you next year?

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