Fitger’s 5K Returns to Biggest Race Turnout During Pandemic

Race officials say high turnout for the Fitger's 5K has them feeling good about the full Grandma's Marathon just two months away.

DULUTH, Minn.– The 32nd Annual Fitger’s 5K here in Duluth returned to its normal date as northlander’s turned out for Grandma’s biggest race since the pandemic.

The Fitger’s 5K race took place Saturday afternoon, where 775 participants ran through downtown. That’s the largest turnout for a grandma’s race this year.

“That’s exciting because it means that some of the restrictions are loosening, we’re able to get back closer to normal,” said Zach Schneider, Marketing and PR Director for Grandma’s Marathon.

The course differs from traditional Fitger’s 5K routes. Instead of going down Superior Street through downtown, runners instead went down London Road, down the Lakewalk before finishing behind the Fitger’s complex.

“This is a pretty good alternative to the traditional Fitger’s course,” said Schneider.

Grandma’s organizers have been crafting their racing protocols to operate during the pandemic. This includes sending runners out in waves. With a number of races under their belt, it’s allowed them to continue fine tuning the rules.

“We’re able to practice some of the techniques that we’re going to be using for crowd control and the start process,” said Schneider. “This is our last chance to put those techniques to the test and see what works and what we need to refine before June.”

Jacque Volk and her daughter Maddie came up from Moose Lake, the first time the two have run a 5K together.

“She wants to try and beat me so we’ll see how that goes,” said Jacque Volk.

Even with a little friendly competition, they say it’s even better running through the nature of the Northland together.

“Usually we’re playing music so hopefully there’s music along the way. Watching the lake, seeing all the people that we pass or go by us is exciting,” said Jacque.

While Jacque has completed the 5K before, she says it’s great to see the races getting back to how they looked before the pandemic.

“Luckily we don’t have to run virtually so that’s really nice because most races this year and last year were virtual so it’s great to be out with actual people running,” she said. “It’d be nice if we had more spectators but hopefully that will be soon.”

Race officials say high turnout for the Fitger’s 5K has them feeling good about the full Grandma’s Marathon just two months away.

“We’re excited about the progress we’ve made and it also makes us optimistic for our largest event, which is grandma’s marathon,” said Schneider.

Now with the Fitger’s 5K in the books for 2021, race officials now have their sights set on the big one, Grandma’s Marathon that’s set to take place on June 19.

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