St. Paul Native Eric Strand to Run 10th Straight Grandma’s Double

On race day, Strand gets to the finish line in Canal Park at 3:00 a.m. and runs the entire course backwards. Once he gets to the start in Two Harbors, he joins the rest of the marathon runners and runs back the final 26.2 miles. 

DULUTH, Minn. – Duluth has always been a special place for St. Paul native Eric Strand. He proposed to his wife here and has been taking part in Grandma’s Marathon for the past two decades. And recently, he’s been running the entire event twice on race day.

“I got to 39 years old and the fun runs weren’t enough to keep me in shape so I had always had this dream of running a marathon, it just seemed like this epic distance and growing up in the Twin Cities, the marathon is Duluth, it’s Grandmas. I decided to sign up, trained up for about 6 months and ran my first Grandma’s Marathon in 2000,” Strand said.

Strand would start to sign up for more marathons and then he got the idea to go bigger and signed up for the Leadville 100.

“It starts in Leadville, Co. which is at 10,200 feet, the highest incorporated city in the US and it goes up from there. So not only are you running 100 miles through mountain ranges, but you’re also doing it without oxygen. The whole idea of training for 100 mile race is you want to get three or four or five runs in that have you on your feet for eight to ten hours. It’s not about speed, it’s just about endurance, it’s about keeping going,” Strand said.

And that’s where the Grandma’s Double started. In 2012, Strand got to the finish line in Canal Park at 3:00 a.m. and ran the entire course backwards. Once he got to the start in Two Harbors, he joined the rest of the marathon runners and ran back the final 26.2 miles.

“Just running through that downtown Canal Park area and then through the bar district and people coming out and telling you you’re running the wrong way. It turned out to be a very peaceful run up the North Shore, you hear the Lake Superior lapping up against the Shore, the sun rise is coming up over Lake Superior and one of the coolest things though is seeing the race course wake up,” Strand added.

He’s done it every year since and now Strand said he’s excited to return to the course and see the race day community he’s grown to love.

“You really appreciate the people, the volunteers that put this whole thing together and it’s been special to see them year after year. I love seeing Sally out there, I love seeing Barb, love seeing the wheelchair athletes. When it comes down to it, it’s really about the Duluth community; it’s the biggest thing going on all year and they make you feel like a rockstar even though you’re a pretty average runner,” Strand said.

While the Grandma’s Double is training for the Leadville 100 in a few months, it’s also getting him ready for a few marathons. Because of scheduling, Strand plans to run the Chicago marathon on Oct. 10, then fly to Boston and run that marathon the next day. He said, “If I can double at Grandma’s, I can probably do a double in two days between Chicago and Boston.”

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