Spectators Return to Grandma’s Marathon

DULUTH, Minn.– As runners make their way back down from Two Harbors here into Duluth, they’re getting a big boost from a whole lot of supporters.

Some places around Duluth held watch parties, including at the reef bar along London Road. Where a former Grandma’s runner spent his time Saturday.

“I’ve done the half two times so I figured checking it out from the other side would be a good time,” said Paul Cameron of Cloquet.

Cameron wanted to literally give runners a big sign of encouragement.

“You’re doing amazing sweetie, that’s what my sign says. And it’s inspired by Kris Jenner.”

Cameron says signs from spectators helped him get through the race back when he competed, so he wanted to pass that along to those putting in the work this year.

“I feel like when you’re coming up the hill from like Glensheen, you feel like the race is over and you want to be done. So when you can give them the extra oomph and get through it,” said Cameron. “To say ‘we’ve got that’ and to see smiles on people’s faces while they’re out here is awesome.”

Further along the track in downtown, one group of friends wanted to show their support to catch one runner’s eye — and his ears.

“My husband is running it so we wanted to be as obnoxious as possible,” said Esther Denherder.

The group saw how much the runners loved their spur of the moment decision, now they hope to keep bringing the noise every year to come.

“The best is when the runners put their hands in the air and they’re like ‘yeah!’ they get loud, they get excited and that makes us excited,” said Jasmine Alberge.

“Now there’s a few other people with these up and down the lane,” said Bo Brallier.

Other family members were cheering on their loved ones Saturday, including Crosby Coe, rooting for his father and sister during the half marathon, and cheering on his mom during the full.

“Yeah it’s been pretty cool with all of the people. I’ve never seen this many people run before,” said Coe. “It’s pretty cool that I get to see my family do it.”

As runners headed down the final stretch, one spectator gave them a chance to ‘level up.’

“When I was a kid I used to play Mario all the time,” said Hannah Ballavance.

Ballavance has been holding a sign to encourage grandma’s racers while watching her sister for more than 5 years. After last year’s virtual race, she says it’s great to see all of the smiling faces again, and give them a power up with some help from the classic video game.

“This is the last leg of the race so I figured, ‘well, it’s a good way to keep them amped and ready and keep them fully going,” said Ballavance. “I’ve seen some frown and then as soon as they see me and see my sign they start smiling and they kick it into gear.”

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