Grandma's Marathon weekend is fast approaching, which means the roads are full runners training for their races.  I have run about 11 Gary Bjorklund Half Marathons and being a creature of habit, I have my favorite places in the Duluth area to train each year.

Keep in mind, I'm a person who doesn't run all year, I start training in April with the Fitgers 5K and stop once I cross the Gary Bjorklund finish line.  However, I do run the Thanksgiving Day Gobble Gallop every year and sometimes run the Park Point 5-Miler.

When choosing places to run, I like places where I can quickly memorize distances so I don't have to wear my GPS to know how far I've gone.  I hate to have stuff on me like watches, hats, sunglasses, etc.  Just small headphones and a smaller iPod Shuffle for music.  I also look for roads with plenty of room to run on the shoulder, I hate running on sidewalks.

I know there are a lot of great places in the Northland to run, but here are my 4 favorite places in the Duluth area.

  • Run 5 Miles On Park Point - Hiram Photography
    Run 5 Miles On Park Point - Hiram Photography

    Park Point

    This tends to be where I train the most.  It's flat, has nice wide shoulders on both sides of the road on which to run, some amazing views and I've memorized how far I need to go to hit different distances.  It also only has a couple big curves where cars may have trouble seeing that you're on the road.  If you need to run more than 8 miles, you can start on the other of the Aerial Lift Bridge as it can be pretty cool to run across.

    The downsides are it tends to be windy, especially at the end, but to me a little extra work is fine and it's usually in one direction only.  You also run the risk getting bridged so don't be in a rush to start or get home.

  • Stebner Road - Cotton Candy Photograhpy
    Stebner Road - Cotton Candy Photograhpy


    If you want to get some mild hills in, and get used to running in warmer temps, I'd recommend running in the Hermantown area.

    Roads like Stebner, Ugstad, Maple Grove and Arrowhead do have pretty wide shoulders to run on, but they are also the only sidewalks that I'll run on as they are pretty flat and don't have that up and down feeling others do.

    Another advantage is you can run a good, long distance without just doing a down and back path so you won't get bored as easily.

  • Move Around Photography
    Move Around Photography

    Duluth's Lakewalk

    Get some hill work in, cooler temperatures, amazing views and no cars to lookout for.  The Lakewalk area is a great place to run and with the expansions, you can run a long distance to boot, even connect almost seamlessly to the Grandma's scenic highway course.

    As you get closer to Canal Park, make sure to be on the lookout for other runners, bicyclists, and tourists inadvertently getting in your way.

  • Jeff Frey & Associates
    Jeff Frey & Associates

    Grandma's Marathon Course on Scenic Hwy 61

    As the name suggests, Scenic Highway 61 is a beautiful place to run.  For me, I don't want to be too familiar with the actual course of a race I'm doing, but it's good to run at least once on part of the course.

    Scenic Highway 61 has shoulders to run on and is the ideal place to run with a friend.  That way, you can park a car in town and one up the shore and just run in one direction, preferably towards Duluth in my opinion.

    Wherever you decide to run, please remember that if you're on the shoulder you should be running towards traffic.  That way you know exactly what is heading towards you.

    As we all drive around the Northland, please make sure your phones are turned off and you're paying attention, looking out for runners, walkers and people in general.

    I can't remember the last time I've been on a run without noticing at least one driver fly by me looking down at their phone.  It's very disheartening and scary to think about.

    Share some of your favorite places to run below, let's get them all covered!

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