Garry Bjorklund (Grandma’s) Half Marathon Recap

We are so lucky to have Grandma’s Marathon take place in our community! We look forward to it every year.

We always kick off the weekend with the Whipper Snapper races for the kids. It was 43 degrees, but our kids wouldn’t miss it for the world! They always do a mascot race first…ranging from a slice of pizza from Papa John’s to the rhubarb man from our local rhubarb festival…and of course the college mascots (and Viktor from the Minnesota Vikings). After the race, Mari asked me if I got to run with the bee and the polar bear, too. Audrey was an amazing big sister and insisted on holding Mari’s hand (“even though I had to slow down for her, Mom”). They had a great time and both love to run…and yes, we had to sport our winter hats on the eve of the first day of summer.

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After the girls got their ribbons, it was off to the expo for our family + my dad who ran the half marathon with me. This is not where I wanted to be sent upon arrival.

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Luckily, even though my packet was completely missing, they were able to issue me a new race bib and number. I was a bit paranoid that I wasn’t going to be in the system, but then I really just cared about being able to get into the race corrals in the morning.

Fast forward to race morning. At 3:30 AM when I woke up it was 43 degrees. By the time we got on the bus to the starting line, it was a balmy (and drizzly) 45 degrees. Oh, Duluth! There was much debate between my dad and I on what to wear. In the end, we were both pleased with our choices and ditched our long sleeves by mile 3. We both wanted to break 2 hours, and I knew my dad could go far faster than me based on his excellent training cycle. We agreed to stay together through Lakeside (mile 8) and then he could take off if he wanted to, knowing that he would pace me to a sub-2 hours and that he would be on his way to a HUGE personal best.

We started the race together and were trucking along with nice 8:45 splits through mile 7. At mile 7.5 we got to see Brent, the girls, my mom and my grandpa. We grabbed our calories and some water and set off again. Of course the stop set us back a few seconds, but then we were happily back on pace.


While heading up Lemon Drop hill (mile 9), my dad started to push the pace. I let him get a bit in front of me and then on the backside of Lemon Drop, he took off. I watched his yellow shirt bob through the crowd and with tears in my eyes and goosebumps all over, I cheered for him to get after it. I am so proud to call him my dad, to run with him and to share the adventure of racing with him. He’s been battling Lyme’s Disease for almost 4 years and to take on training for a half marathon is amazing. To set a personal best and be incredibly bad ass, well…that is just inspiring.

I kept on going and battled away the voice in my head that said to just take it easy and relax. I pushed as hard as I could for the last miles and crossed the finish line in 1:58.42. A 6+ minute personal best and my first time breaking 2 hours!

My dad, the rockstar, crossed in 1:54.12…an 18 (yes…18!) minute personal best!


I am so happy and so honored to have shared another 13.1 miles with my dad! I am grateful for each mile that he and I can share!

I am incredibly excited to begin the New York City Marathon training cycle for Team Every Mother Counts. I proudly wore my singlet yesterday through the streets of Duluth and hope that next year a few more Team EMC runners will join me (I can’t guarantee warmer weather, but I can promise a wonderful experience)!


Bring it on, New York!


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