Welcome runners! This is our twin cities marathon and half-marathon guide. It is a work in progress. Please get in touch with jesse [at] www.happyhumanfitness.com if any of the information has gotten out of date or if you’d like to see us add more races to the guide.
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A Great Urban Marathon and One Challenging Course!
The first Sunday in October plays host every year to what I think is one of the best marathons in the country, the Twin Cities Marathon (TCM). The course is a scenic tour of Minneapolis and St. Paul — and very challenging.
What makes this course so hard?
It starts early at mile 2, a nice hill climb in front of the Walker Art Center, but if you are familiar with the route, at mile 20 you know that last 10k is the hardest part of the 26.2 mile course. Mental toughness is key to a strong finish in any marathon, especially true at the TCM.
Every runner needs to have his or her “A” game and be ready to power through the hills and the long, slow, steady false flat climb of Summit Avenue — a true test of fitness and mental strength. I’ve always said the marathon really starts at mile 20; a well-trained body can endure 20 miles pretty well, but if you haven’t managed your race properly with nutrition and hydration, that last 10k can really kick your butt!
Once you pass through the big arch that says “The Wall” at mile 20, some nice hill climbs begin along East River Road. During this part of the course you need to shorten your stride length, pump the arms and drive up those hills with confidence. Think about slowing the pace down just a bit and keeping that heart rate and body relaxed, but stay strong and try to pass people to give you a boost of energy.Once you reach Summit, it’s 3 to 4 miles of steady uphill running. The grade is not necessarily steep, but you will feel the steady incline.
You need to have energy and believe in yourself at this point keep good form and just motor up.If you train hard and train smart, you can tackle this very challenging course and have a stellar race — and cross the line feeling good! Best of luck
The sheer beauty of the course and unbelievable crowd support makes the Twin Cities Marathon an incredible experience from start to finish.
It was magical to complete my first marathon in my home state, running through streets on which I normally drive. The race course winds through the shimmering lakes and historic neighborhoods, past the Basilica and Cathedral (both breathtaking sights,) and ends with a dramatic view and sensational downhill finish to the Capitol. The fall foliage around the lakes makes for beautiful scenery the entire run, and the ringing cathedral bells add a special touch.
There’s no traffic on the course—just plenty of trees, striking fall colors and an astoundingly supportive crowd. Thousands of spectators line the entire course, providing encouragement with every step you take. The outpouring of love and support from so many strangers made for such a humbling, unforgettable experience that I chose to leave out my headphones to soak it all in.
The joy of running the Twin Cities Marathon inspired me to take on its famous sister race: Grandma’s Marathon, which takes place in Duluth this June. The Twin Cities Marathon is an amazing race that every Minnesotan and out-of-town guest should participate in; these two marathons are perfect for anyone looking for a true Minnesota experience. The lakes, the scenery, the “Minnesota Nice” crowd support—and yes, the unpredictable weather—are the truest reflections of our state’s identity.
Last summer, I ran Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth for the first time. I was incredibly excited, but had no idea what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect the tremendous support and entertainment along the course, nor did I expect the sheer amount of spectators (including some very enthusiastic cousins of mine who live in Duluth).I also didn’t expect that I would meet and run with new friends, and that we would support one another through our respective walls and the more challenging parts of the course. But most of all, what was unexpected was the sense of community and fellowship that I felt.
26.2 miles can seem a little daunting to even the most seasoned marathoner, but one of the best parts of the course was the beautiful scenery that helped to distract me from the distance ahead and focused my attention on the beauty around me. After almost three hours of walking and jogging, I finally crossed back over the start line.
With friends cheering me on I finally crossed back over the start line after almost three hours of walking and running, and I remember thinking “I can’t wait for my next marathon” – that’s how motivating and positive Grandma’s Marathon was for me!
I’ve completed Grandma’s Marathon four times (and the corresponding Bjorklund half marathon twice) and each time I fall more in love with the race. It is, to me, perfect on all fronts – at least in terms of what I value in a marathon including: course (beauty and layout), organization, crowd and volunteer support, food, and ease of logistics.Even in recent years, when the weather has been less than ideal (read: 85 degrees!) I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the race and grateful for the experience. Grandma’s was also great for a “first marathon.” This goes along with the fact that everything is so well organized and taken care of that you truly only have to worry about running your race.
One of my other favorite things about Grandma’s is that it is point-to-point. Loop races are hard mentally – and following along Lake Superior, and seeing the aerial lift bridge get bigger and bigger as you progress towards the finish line, is truly magical.
A final thing I’ll rave about is the price, it’s worth every penny – the organizers of this race are top notch and the locals support the runners all weekend, both on the racecourse and off.
Sara Jane Baldwin