Skip to main content

Missed Grandma's Marathon? Try Ely's first-ever 26-mile wilderness run

  • Author:
  • Updated:

A Minnesota city known as the starting point for many a canoe trip will host an adventure on dry land later this year, as it kicks off the first-ever Ely Marathon.

Celebrating its status as the "Gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness," Ely touts the race as the "8390 rod portage."

The starting pistols begin firing on Friday, Sept. 26.

"Portage," in case you're not familiar, is paddler-speak for dragging your canoe across land from one body of water to another – "rod" is roughly the length of a canoe, a convenient measurement of distance for canoeists making overland trips.

And the Ely Marathon is one heck of a portage.

According to the event's official website, the full marathon will stretch 26 miles from the north arm of Burntside Lake, along the historic Echo Trail to downtown Ely.

The Star Tribune notes the "semi-challenging" run will offer "about six miles of gravel, many scenic views" and probably a chance at seeing some wildlife, while outdoor website RootsRated describes it as the perfect opportunity for runners to experience "true wilderness."

Those not up to the long trek can also take part in either the 5K run or the half-marathon.

Organizers told the Star Tribune the race is a bid by the Ely Chamber of Commerce to bring tourism to the city during the quiet months.

The Ely Marathon joins a strong running culture in Minnesota – as RootsRated pointed out, the state has an "inordinate number of marathons," with 14 this year alone.

Online registration for the Ely Marathon is available here.

Next Up

Great Dane Rescue and Sanctuary

Emaciated Great Danes rescued after being found living in minivan

Great Dane Rescue of Minnesota and Wisconsin posted that two of the dogs are in "rough condition" and "barely hanging on."

Screen Shot 2020-05-26 at 10.28.52 AM

2 years since George Floyd's killing, Biden signs exec order on policing

The signing comes on the second anniversary of Floyd's murder by police in south Minneapolis.


Lutsen Mountains owner to buy Michigan ski resort

The Skinner family has operated alpine ski areas in the Midwest for 60 years.


Mayo Clinic, CDC address concerns over monkeypox in the US

The CDC does not currently think there is a significant threat to the general public.

police tape

Charges: Man killed brother, left body in homemade camper for 7 months

James Robert Hess, 48, faces second-degree murder charges for the death of his 52-year-old brother, William Harold Hess Jr.


Minnesota forecast: Hot, humid and severe storm chances

Bring Me The News meteorologist Sven Sundgaard says right now the best chance for storms looks like Sunday/Sunday night.

Thai Cultural Council of Minnesota

Minnesota's biggest Thai festival to be hosted in front of State Capitol

The Thai New Year, or Songkran, is one of the most celebrated holidays in Thailand.

police tape, crime scene

Man dies after being shot in the head in St. Cloud

Investigators believe the suspects fled the scene in a vehicle.


Uvalde school massacre: MN Democrats call for action, Republicans prayers

The tragedy in Texas has sparked different reactions from Minnesota's congressional delegation.

Screen Shot 2020-06-15 at 7.11.05 AM

St. Cloud man fires shot at police in hours-long standoff, surrenders

Shawn Lawrence Jacobs, 37, was arrested just before 4 p.m. Tuesday after he surrendered.

New baby zebra at the Como Zoo.

St. Paul's Como Zoo welcomes new baby zebra

The baby is yet to be named, and the zoo is planning an event for visitors to help with the decision.


Who won the first running of Grandma's Marathon?

On June 25, 1977, a road race transformed Duluth with the first running of Grandma's Marathon. Who was the first person across the finish line from Two Harbors to Canal Park? Was it: A) Dick Beardsley B) Doug Kurtis C) Garry Bjorklund For the answer, click on the headline above.