Storms snag some runners traveling to Duluth for Grandma's Marathon

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A weekend of festivities are in the starting block in Duluth, where runners are arriving to participate in the 38th annual Grandma's Marathon.

The Duluth News Tribune reports that about 6,000 volunteers will greet 7,964 marathon runners who represent all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 44 countries. That's in addition to the 8,498 runners registered for the Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon and the 2,029 runners who are registered for the William A. Irvin 5K.

The Duluth News Tribune reports the storms have made it difficult for some runners to get to the Twin Ports, with travel itineraries disrupted for travelers arriving through Minneapolis-St. Paul International and Chicago. "As of midday Thursday, the Grandma’s Marathon staff knew of a handful of athletes affected by canceled flights," the story said. All of Friday’s flights from Chicago to Duluth are overbooked, Grandma’s officials said.

Canadian paralymic racer Michel Filteau had his flight from Montreal to Chicago canceled Thursday. Atalelech Asfaw, a frontrunner for the women’s marathon, flew to MSP from Albuquerque only to find her flight to Duluth canceled. Fortunately for Asfaw, Sarah Kiptoo, the 2013 women’s marathon champ, and her agent were on the same flight and the three drove north together. Meanwhile, Duluth residents Cheryl and Hugh Reitan were stranded at O'Hare International so they rented a car to drive home; they had struck up a conversation with elite marathoner Gisela Olalde who was also stuck and she accepted their invitation to tag along.

WDIO's weather team report a chance for showers and storms Friday afternoon, with small hail and brief heavy downpours possible. But on Saturday morning when the runners take off, temperatures should be in the 50's, with mist and drizzle possible.

A story by the Northland's News Center said the forecast is "cloudy... with a chance of meatballs," as the day-long spaghetti feed begins for the carb-loading runners at 11 Friday morning. By the time the day-long feast wraps up at 9 p.m., some 5,000 pounds of spaghetti sauce and more than 2,000 pounds of noodles will have been served. The spaghetti dinner has been a tradition, but this year runners will dine on something new... meatballs. More than one thousand pounds of meatballs have been cooked and are ready to be served.

In the past 37 years, there have been a total of 181,239 Grandma’s Marathon finishers.

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