Celebration, spectators added back to 2021 Grandma’s Marathon

With the loosening of state health guidelines, two traditional parts of Grandma’s Marathon weekend are coming back.

Event organizers said spectators will now be welcomed back and a post-race celebration will be held.

"Those things were crossed off pretty early in our planning process based on the previous guidelines, and the result was going to be a very different feeling come race weekend," Executive Director Shane Bauer said. "Bringing those pieces back will not only amplify the experience of our participants, but it’s great for our community members who wait all year to be part of Grandma’s Marathon weekend."

This year, the post-race celebration will be held at Bayfront Festival Park instead of near the finish line in Canal Park. Live musical acts will be featured throughout race day and admission will be free for all attendees.

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"The move to Bayfront is an exciting change for this year’s Grandma’s Marathon," Finance & Operations Director Linda Hanson said. "It’s a great Duluth venue built for the very thing we want to do – come together and celebrate with our participants, our many partners, and our community that supports us year round. To be given the opportunity to bring this event back into our planning means so much because it’s not only a tradition, it’s how we say thank you to everyone for a job well done."

Still, event organizers are urging people to remember that personal responsibility will play a major role in the weekend’s success.

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Masks will still be required for all areas where there are at least 500 people gathered, which organizers expect to include the start and finish areas, Bayfront Festival Park, the Michelina’s All-You-Can-Eat Spaghetti Dinner and the Essentia Health Fitness Expo. Runners won’t have to wear masks while actively participating.

The 45th annual Grandma’s Marathon is set for June 17-19, and it’s expected to be one of the country’s first major running events to return after the pandemic.

"This is our chance to do a really big thing and do it well," Marketing & Public Relations Director Zach Schneider said. "We want people to enjoy themselves, to feel safe, and to say good things about our race and our community when they leave here. Grandma’s was built on the idea of community coming together, and we need that in a different but critically important way this year."