“Loneliness adds beauty to life. It puts a special burn on sunsets and makes night air smell better.”  -Henry Rollins, Punk Rocker, Poet and Wannabe Ultrarunner

The car pulled into the Mobil station in Canal Park, headlamps illuminating ghostly apparitions.  It was 2:45 AM on the morning of Grandma’s Marathon with fog horns reminding me I was in the wrong spot.  It would be another 7+ hours before Dominic Ondoro of Kenya would smash Dick Beardsley’s record of 33 years with a blazing 2:09:05 sprint from Two Harbors to this very location in Duluth.  The start line was 26.2 miles up Hwy 61 along Lake Superior near Two Harbors.  This being the 3rd Annual Grandma’s Marathon Double, I had hoped to have some competition company. They were obviously all afraid asleep.

There is something stupid special about starting a 50+ mile run in fog, wind, rain and 40 degree temps at 3 AM in downtown Duluth.  Watching Grandma’s Marathon “wake up” with volunteers setting up aid stations, raising balloons at the mile markers and dispensing good cheer despite the hour makes you better understand that this is not just a race.  This is a community ritual that binds us together.  You may start out the Grandma’s Double alone, but you will not be lonely for long.  This is Ravel’s Bolero.  It begins with a simple rhythm and builds to a unforgettable crescendo 52.4 miles later.

Here’s the video from the 2014 Grandma’s Marathon Double:

Many thanks to the Incredible Tami Strand for dropping me off at 2:45 AM only to turn around and drop the boys off by 6 AM.  Congrats to Zach Strand and David Maas on your 2nd annual Grandma’s!  And a huge thank you once again to the race organizers, the amazing volunteers, the inspiring runners and to Dick Beardsley for being such a great champion for all these years.

See you next year at 2:45 AM, Saturday, June 20, 2015.