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Gary Bjorkland Half Marathon

Updated: Dec 29, 2019


Duluth, MN

June 15, 2018

Finish Time: 1:42:10

I researched some of the best races to run in the U.S. and this one came across the best in Minnesota, so I had to do it. I flew into Duluth while my mom and brother flew into Minneapolis and drove up. FYI 3 hours it took them. The race takes place on a Saturday and I couldn’t take off work.

The expo (which was kind of lame) was open until 10 pm so that was nice as we wouldn’t pick up our bibs until 6 pm. However, you had to pay to park so that was annoying. When I left D.C., it was very warm out, when I landed in Duluth, there was a nice breeze but the fog would soon roll in and it got chilly. We went to Canal Park brewing for dinner and then headed back to the hotel for bed. The half marathon starts at 6:30 and the shuttles to the start pick up between 5 and 6 at different locations throughout Duluth (fyi the full marathon starts an hour later).

We woke up early to make our way to the shuttle location at the local mall. There was a line as we arrived around 5:30 but it moved quickly. We got to the race start around 6:15 and immediatly made our way to find a bathroom. The lines for the portapotties were very long. So long that when the race began, we were still waiting in line! It was chilly in the morning so I brought a jacket to run in. Let’s just say it came off about a mile in.

We crossed the start line around 6:45 am and began the game of leapfrogging. This is what you do when you pass people. Because we were “starting” at the end, our actual wave based on time had started awhile ago. I pretty much spent the whole race dodging back and forth around runners. Passing the 2:45 pace group, 2:30, 2:15 and 2:00. It was kind of crazy.

The race runs along Lake Superior which I am sure would have been beautiful if there wasn’t any fog. But there was, so we couldn’t see much. The course was flat and a net downhill with some rollers. There were people all along spectating and it was just incredibly well run. Lots of people volunteering at the aid stations and big balloons in the air to designate each mile. I was doing very well with my time averaging 7:45 miles pretty much the whole time.

The finish takes place right in the downtown/main part of Duluth. You have to run over an overpass before you make your way the final half a mile. Once we finished, they give you a medal, a tshirt, and you can hit up the food available. I made my way to the bathroom, changed into warm clothes and found my brother. He killed it with a time of 1:


We waited for mom to show up and then made our way back to the shuttle location that took us back to the car at the mall. Overall, the race was very well run, the whole community comes out for it, and even though it was point to point I was impressed with the transportation options available.

Perks: medal, course, transportation, aid stations and mile markers

Ehhh… not a fan: expo, start time

Grade: B+

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