Since 2013, the security protocols surrounding Grandma’s Marathon have more than doubled. Some of the most noticeable measures were activated last year with gravel-filled trucks blocking Canal Park Drive, along with sand-filled barrels and barricades preventing access to the racecourse in other locations from start to finish.
Most of the security measures surrounding marathon weekend aren’t as noticeable, like the K-9 units from around Minnesota that are here and working before 4 a.m. on race day, or the undercover officers that blend in with the crowds throughout the weekend.
The 42nd annual weekend of events will continue that safety progression. Runners may notice more vehicle blockades due to the reroute around Superior Street construction, as well as other areas up the north shore. The not-so-noticeable additions this year will include air support from the Minnesota State Patrol, who will be employing their technology enhanced Cirrus aircraft to ensure efficient traffic management as well as to enhance runner and spectator security.
“It’s all designed with runner safety in mind,” said Shane Bauer, executive director at Grandma’s Marathon. “We’re very fortunate to have such an incredible team here in Duluth. It’s led by our partners at the Duluth Police Department, but includes close to twenty other agencies from the local townships all the way up to the federal level.”
Lieutenant Chad Nagorski with Duluth Police, the incident commander for Grandma’s Marathon events, agrees with that sentiment.
“The relationships we’ve built with other agencies around Duluth’s biggest annual event and the support from the community is remarkable,” he said. “It allows us to put together an efficient security plan for a smooth weekend of events and provide a great experience for all the runners.”
Together, Grandma’s Marathon directors and Duluth Police officers attend a safety and security summit with the biggest marathon events from around the U.S. The goal of the conference is to share tactics and identify the best security practices across all areas of an event weekend, many of which are applied here in Duluth. One of the common themes among all special events is awareness.
“As always, we encourage spectators and volunteers, in addition to the runners, to have fun but be aware of your surroundings. If you see something, say something,” Bauer said.
There will be security checkpoints for spectators around the finish line, and drones are not allowed anywhere near the racecourse with the exception of the official Grandma’s Marathon drones marked by the security team. Backpacks are discouraged and if abandoned, will be immediately seized by security officials. Marathon organizers advise you to bring only what you need and use clear bags. No automobiles, bicycles, baby joggers, inline skates, pets or unofficial participants are allowed on the racecourse.
Grandma’s Marathon events get underway with the Essentia Health Fitness Expo and race packet pick-up at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 14. Visit grandmasmarathon.com for the full weekend schedule of events, spectator tips, runner tracking and other information, or download the 2018 Grandma’s Marathon app.