If You’re Considering the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, Read this!
The lottery for the 25th anniversary of the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon opens February 9th! If you are looking to run this amazing half marathon on June 20th, you will need to plan in advance.
One of the best half marathons (if not the best) fills fast! The lottery grants just 6,700 entries to lucky runners for my personal favorite half marathon. Act quickly as it closes February 20th.
The half marathon is commonly known as ‘Grandma’s Half ‘, but the official name is the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon (named after Duluth native and Olympian). It takes place in Duluth on June 20th and is a very popular race among Minnesota (and people from out of state).
About the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon
This race starts at the mid-point of the marathon and follows the exact same course to the finish. Because of the wild popularity of the race, the lottery was put in place to make sure everyone had a fair chance. The total field size for the race is 8,500, but only 6,700 spots are available in the lottery. The additional spaces are reserved for charity partners.
In 2013, the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon registration exceeded the full marathon for the first time ever.
What makes the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon so Popular?
The first thing that comes to mind is the course. It is a point to point course that is relatively flat and the last 4 or so miles are pretty much all downhill. Take a look at the elevation chart that my Garmin plotted in 2014.
There are a few rolling hills before you get to the city, but nothing too difficult. The largest hill is Lemon Drop which starts right before mile 9. People hype this hill up, but it really isn’t that bad. Unless you only run around the lakes in Minneapolis (no elevation at all), you won’t have a problem here. I look forward to this hill, because the rest of the course is downhill. The crowds pick up here as you make your way through the city and you will regain a lot of lost momentum quickly.
The course is also very picturesque. You run parallel to Lake Superior for about 6 miles before you enter the city. It is scenic and beautiful. Once you hit the city, the crowds show up and cheer you the entire 2nd half of the race. You get the best of both worlds with this race.
Another perk of this race is that it is always on Saturday. This is a race that allows you to enjoy the finish line festivities without having to pack up and get home so quickly. Upon finishing, you will get your medal and finisher’s shirt along with your post race snacks and refreshments. I normally get a massage before watching the marathoners come in (unless I am running the marathon).
The post race party is always great. They have huge tents with live music and of course a few cold beverages. The entire city is filled with runners the day and night of the event. It is fun to stay in Duluth that evening and is something I highly recommend.
A few things if you are considering running this race:
- The temperature can vary drastically. Some years it has been very hot, but the last few years the temperature has been cool, if not perfect. Realize that this is a near-summer race and there is a potential for the weather to be not so enjoyable. The breeze off Superior normally helps things, however.
- Hotels fill up very fast. Considering looking ahead and reserving something before the lottery (check cancellation policies first). Hotels are very expensive in Duluth this weekend, so plan to split a room with a few other runners to save a bit.
- If you want to enter the lottery with a friend or a group of friends you can do so. This allows you to only run if your friends get selected with you. Many races that hold lotteries don’t do this, so this is a great option to have.
If you have any questions about the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, ask in the comments below and I will be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible. Also, checkout the Minneapolis Running race team. It’s awesome!
I can’t say enough good things about this race. I tell everyone that I meet out of states at other marathons that Grandma’s Marathon or the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon are musts for Minnesota races.
Good luck with the lottery!