Interested in learning more about the Life & Hope Fund and their efforts to help cancer patients and their families?  Click here . . . and THANK YOU!

And on with the blog…

On Saturday morning, June 16, I will be running Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN for 13th time. 

And the 14th time. 

This race (which I have personally created and organized) is the newly christened “Grandma’s Double” and I fully expect to win . . . I also fully expect to be the only one running it.

As you may know by now, my “A” race for the year is the Leadville 100 Trail Run on August 18-19.  I’ve had this one on my mind from a training perspective since the beginning of the year.  To be properly prepared for 100 miles at altitude in Colorado, I’ll need three or four training runs of 50+ miles under my belt by early August.  I knocked out the first one a few weeks ago (click here for the recap on that one) and it’s time now for Round 2.  No problem!  Except that I have Grandma issues.

The problem with the 26.2 Grandma’s Marathon on June 16 is, well, it’s just not long enough.  I could skip the race and get on with my Leadville training, but Grandma’s Marathon is a very special race and Duluth is a very special place . . . not going is not an option.  So I have come up with an elegant solution: Run Grandma’s Marathon twice.

Tami will be dropping me off at the finish line of Grandma’s Marathon near the historic aerial lift bridge about 2:30 AM.  I’ll be loaded up with fluids, gels and Honey Stinger Waffles (my new favorite long-run fuel) and plan to follow the race route backwards, up the shores of Lake Superior to the start line in Two Harbors, MN, 26.2 miles later.  And then, I’ll join several thousand others for their first marathon of the day as we retrace my steps all the way back to Duluth (click here for route map).  Sounds a little nuts, but think about it . . . I’ll have plenty of company for the tough miles from 26.2 on and will enjoy the relative luxury of aid stations (all with water/gatorade/portajohns . . . and some with stretchers) every mile or two along the way.  I can see some of you marveling at the brilliance . . . but most of you are slapping your foreheads and rolling your eyes.  I scoff at your scoffing . . . I have a plan and I’m gonna work it!

It’s gonna be a slow one.  You can track my time (click here, my bib is #157) but be prepared to wait a looooong time.  Last year at Grandma’s I ran a 3:26 Boston Qualifier.  This year they are predicting Red Flag weather (higher temps and humidity) and I am coming off of a 100-mile week taper.  The legs are pretty much toast already.  But if you want to take full advantage of the wonders of supercompensation, this is what you do!  I’ll probably try and hang with the 4:30 pace team as long as I can and just see how it goes.  And I’m sure it will go just spendidly!

Is it a marathon for Grandma’s?  Did you really ask that question? Grandma’s is the name of the restaurant/saloon that has sponsored the race since it’s inception in the 1970’s.  The race runs from Two Harbors to Duluth along Lake Superior . . . and there is a story to all of this.  And some of it may be true.  Apparently, Grandma was the proprietor of a bordello that is now the aforementioned restaurant/saloon.  Back in the day, the loggers up north in Two Harbors would be paid once a year.  As soon as the quartermaster handed over their cash, they would make a mad dash for Grandma’s in Duluth (exactly 26.2 miles away, of course) and the fastest of the bunch would have first pick of Grandma’s highly attentive staff.  So, there you go, you will never think of grandma in quite the same light, will you?

This is a special race and place.  I ran my first marathon in June of 2000 at Grandma’s and the emotions, even for this stoic Swede, are amazingly powerful every time I cross that start line in Two Harbors and the finish line in Duluth.  Duluth is special for many, many reasons.  We have very dear friends and family close by . . . signing up for the race each year means we will be making our annual pilgrimmage to see them once again.  And, oh yeah, the pretty girl in the picture below made me the luckiest person in the world by saying “yes” in September 1982 in Duluth with Lake Superior for a backdrop (if the shot looks a little fuzzy, it was taken just before I proposed and I do remember my hands being just a tad shaky).

 And now you know the rest of the story!

Life & Hope Fund Update:  WhooHoo!  Great week, $5222 donated so far . . . YOU ARE AWESOME!  Special thanks to Joe & Brenda Pereles, Patrick Cavanaugh, Jonathan Barsky, Dr. George Dirkers, Dr. Steve H., Jan & Peter Strand, Jason & Diana Flowers, Julie Bess and Steve Glazer.  You have all done good and YOU MADE ME PAY!

Interested in learning more about how you can support the Life & Hope Fund?  CLICK HERE

Special THANKS to Claire Chosid for the awesome blog entry she wrote about this event: CLICK HERE to read Eric Strand – Town & Country’s Marathon Man.



  1. Whoa! First of all, welcome back to MN! 🙂 Second, good luck with the double! I hope the weather cooperates and the big lake keeps the heat and humidity at bay. All the best!

    I am embarrassed being a Minnesotan and not knowing the legend of Grandma’s. Fascinating! 😉

    1. Thanks, Jean, it was a blast! Glad I could educate you and others on the history of Grandma’s marathon . . . some of it might even be true.

  2. Excellent blog and site. Glad to hear what you are up to and what it takes to prepare for a 250k, We will pray for your well being, and pray for your sanity afterwords, otherwise you probably wouldn’t run a marathon backwards and forwards. Best wishes.

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