Thursday, August 21, 2014

Grandma's Marathon: Travel and Logistics

We are finally coming to the end of my Grandma posts - thanks for sticking with me!  This post is really only useful if you are planning on doing Grandma's someday.  When I was doing research for Grandma's, I didn't find a ton of info on the travel logistics.  So I thought I would pay it forward to someone else who is doing Grandma's and share my knowledge.

Let's start with the most important thing (after registering of course) - the hotel.  As you might imagine, Duluth is a small town and hotels are limited.  First piece of advice (and possibly the most important) - book your hotel as EARLY as possible.  As I said, there are limited hotels and the longer you wait, the less ideal your hotel could be.

The website does a good job of updating the current availabilities, but there are still a lot of options.  The list of hotels they provide (via the website) has a bunch of different areas to choose from. 

My recommendation?  Pick one of the downtown Duluth or Canal Park hotels.  Yes, they will be more expensive but they will be within walking distance to the expo and finish line.  I stayed at the Holiday Inn Downtown Duluth and it was perfect for me.  It is connected to the expo via the walkway and was only a 10 minute walk from the finish.  They also cater to those doing the race with a snack table with banana's, juice and pretzels in the lobby.  Plus, when I got to my room they provided complimentary bottles of water and granola bars.  It was really nice!

The race is a point to point so they bus you out to the start.  It's important to consider the pickup point of the bus when booking your hotel.  It's going to be early so you don't want to have to walk a ton.  Luckily for me, the Holiday Inn is a shuttle bus stop, so it was right in front of the hotel.  Very easy on race morning. 

Once you make your hotel decision (again, book early, I cannot stress that enough!), the next decision is how to get there.  You can't fly direct there from the east coast - it's a really tiny airport.  Your options are to fly through another midwest airport and connect.  Flying from New York, my layover airport choices were Detroit or Minneapolis. 

I decided to fly through Detroit on the way there and Minneapolis on the way back.  I did it because it was cheaper, but if I had to do it again, I would fly through Minneapolis on the way there.  Why?  Well, you never know what weather is going to do and if my flight from Detroit couldn't get out (or I missed my connection due to delays) there was no other way for me to get to Duluth.  It was too far to drive, so I'd be screwed.  At least in Minneapolis you could rent a car (it's about 2 hours away).  It ended up working out for me, but I would have liked to not have the stress.

Of course, you can also fly to Minneapolis and either drive or take a shuttle service from there.  I personally didn't want to sit in a car for 2 hours, so I flew to Duluth. 

If you do decide to fly, check with your hotel about an airport shuttle.  Mine had a one and it took me back and forth which was really nice as well.

These are the most important items to consider if you are planning to head to Duluth for Grandma's.  If you are doing it and have other questions, feel free to email me at and I'll answer the best I can!

Oh, one last item... book your hotel as early as possible!

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