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


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.

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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.