My proposal: Superior-to-Skyline Run

It’s Grandma’s Marathon week, so runners will be flooding into town for the long, rolling race along the shore of Lake Superior. It’s an iconic setting and an iconic race.

I’ve wondered a few times since moving here, though, if there should be another iconic running race in Duluth, one that celebrates another facet of Duluth like Grandma’s celebrates the lake. My proposal: A run from the shore of Lake Superior to the top of the hill. Call it the “Superior-to-Skyline Run.” Short, simple and steep. Let’s start crowning Duluth’s Kings (and Queens) of the Hill.

If I were in control, I’d route it from the Lift Bridge, all the way up Lake Avenue, turn onto Mesaba and end at the Coppertop Church.

Has anything like this been done before? Does anyone else think this would be a good idea? I’d be happy to help out in organization, though someone else or some local business would need to take the lead … I have no clue what needs to be done to organize a race.

25 Comments

Clip

about 13 years ago

....Oh, indeed...a full-blown SKYLINE RUSH would be fine....

The Big E

about 13 years ago

Something vaguely similar in concept though substantially more brutal was undertaken in the past.  From the Northern Minnesota Track Club vault:  
Not all of the traditions of the NMTC have stayed as true as the fall series and the MVTR. Few souls in the running world can say that they have entered or completed the Tischer Creak River Run (TCRR). This WAS a spring event during the 80's that was run during finals week at University of Minnesota-Duluth from the Woodland neighborhood of Duluth. The run wandered down to Lake Superior where the brave souls began their pilgrimage up the creek with their sights set on the dam at Hartley Field. This was not a run that was to be won but rather survived as the body went up against Mother Nature and whatever may have collected in the creek over the years. All bets were off in the TCRR as the runners neared the finish. While the run itself took over three hours, the real pleasure came as the runners had to scale the sixteen foot tall dam at Hartley Field. The trick is that the runners could only use what they had picked up along the way to get over the dam wall. In 1986 Gunnar Nelson made it to the dam alone, after his three fellow competitors dropped out. He did not make it over the dam!
I think you have a good idea, although the idea of hammering uphill all the way is making me hurt already. I'd suggest talking to Gene Curnow, who ran the NMTC races for many years, or to Eve Stein, who has put on a number of successful races locally in recent years. One problem I could foresee with your proposed route is that a big event on that route would involve a lot of traffic disruption, and the city might not be all that receptive to providing the police presence that would require. Whether a smaller-scale under-the-radar affair might work, I don't know. I'd run it though.

@ndy

about 13 years ago

I don't think enough people would be interested to require the blocking of traffic. I would run it but if you are going to have a bunch of people run straight up a hill, you could surely offer a better course than Lake Ave. The obvious choice for me would be Spirit Mt. A less challenging course would be Chester Bowl. If you are really intent on it being a road race I think you'll probably have to sacrifice the whole "iconic race" notion and settle for a small early morning run on a Saturday or Sunday to try and avoid traffic.

zra

about 13 years ago

superior to skyline could easily be done via 14th and chester...and because most cross streets from the lake to chester are one way, holding up traffic would be that much easier.

still...a Duluth Hash kennel would be a good thing.

elpete

about 13 years ago

Not so similar, The DDHSS (Duluth Downhill skateboard sluts) hosted  annual downhill runs from the top above copper top through Lincoln park and then downtown.  This was all followed by a cool keg and bbq.  Anyone else remember those days?

Chester Dark

about 13 years ago

I've been backing a relay race along the entire Superior Hiking Trail. There's a similar race in Oregon (and elsewhere, I'm sure) and our route would help promote this outstanding local resource.

A Skyline Marathon (any 26 mile length of Skyline Drive) would also be awesome.

wildgoose

about 13 years ago

A downhill ski event/promotion where they trucked in snow was done on Lake Avenue in the 80s or 90s.  I couldn't find details or images in a brief search but maybe someone else can.  this was gonna be a big iconic winter promotion but it didn't catch on.

akjuneau

about 13 years ago

A relay race on the Superior Hiking Trail... or even Skyline Parkway... that sounds cool. Maybe I'll put the hill climb on the shelf and back that idea. Are there any notable relay races around the Northland?

The best race I've ever been around was a relay race - the Klondike Trail of '98 International Road Relay. About 100 miles up and over the mountains and the international border from Skagway, Alaska, to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. 10 stages. Run overnight. Awesome: http://www.klondikeroadrelay.com/race2/

Shane

about 13 years ago

There exists an iconic Duluth road, that goes from the lake to Skyline and also has no cross streets to close.  
Well perhaps one road, briefly at the start, if starting at the Lake was a priority.

Paul Lundgren

about 13 years ago

I like the idea of a relay along the Superior Hiking Trail, but not necessarily a race. I think it might be better as an exhibition. 

Instead of passing a baton or torch, perhaps there's something symbolic or humorous that could be "delivered" from Jackson Lake to Duluth by a group of runners.

(Although the trail doesn't totally connect Duluth to Two Harbors yet.)

Paul Lundgren

about 13 years ago

As far as uphill racing goes, I like the idea of doing it at Spirit Mountain. The obvious name of the event would be King of the Mountain, although that sort of disregards women. King/Queen of the Mountain or Master of the Mountain doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

In the true spirit of King of the Mountain, maybe competitors should be allowed to shove each other down to gain advantage. OK, maybe not.

Ramos

about 13 years ago

When I was in high school, I once participated in a sprawling Capture the Flag game held on a large acreage in the woods. My strategy was to circle so far around that I would never be detected by the enemy. I walked through the woods for a long time. I eventually was drawn back to camp by people calling my name.  The game was over.

I would suggest holding Capture the Flag games in the Spirit Mountain/Magney Park area, but if anyone thinks I'm going to organize something like that, they can think again.

The runners should deliver a carton of Kools. Have a grateful recipient waiting at the finish line.

Jen

about 13 years ago

Not a relay race, and not to Two Harbors, but the folks from Midnight Sun organize an event on the Duluth portion of the SHT (Jay Cooke to Fitgers).

27 miles. Run or hike. I've done it the last two years. I'm tired of being last.

http://www.midnightsunmidnightrun.com/5k/Other_Events.html

adam

about 13 years ago

Superior-to-Skyline Tunnel Run!

maria

about 13 years ago

next year we will hold grandpa's marathon with, of course, john ruvelson as race director/MC. he's running the half so this year he's unavailable for outlaw race organizing. look for updates in 2010.

Beverly

about 13 years ago

Your idea reminds me of your post about the basketball rolling and bouncing down the street. Imagine the carnage of a downhill race.

wildgoose

about 13 years ago

In my NorShor days we devised a promotion called the Norshor 15k (that's the Historic NorShor, not the so-called "experience" we have now) we devised.

The point was that we needed $15,000 to stay open, and it was a play on that.  We never actually had a route worked out completely, but we were looking at starting out and for sure ending at the theater in Downtown.  At the time I was looking down and around, maybe along the lakewalk and cruise around garfield and the slips, canals and etc of working Duluth.  But perhaps we should have looked up, instead, Old Downtown to Skyline would be an interesting approximation/parallel to your proposed route. 

The rest of the story is that Bruce Woodman did some great images and promotional design stuff for us, but the race never took off, and the theater soon ran out of money.  And the dedicated staff and shell shocked management soon ran out of time.  

--

It might be fascinating to one or two people besides me to consider all of the great ideas for community events or gathering spaces that never really took off.  Nothing has taken off like Grandmas's Marathon, that is certain.  Nothing I can think of, anyway. Except maybe the now tragically defunct(sadly sadly sadly) Duluth International Folk Festival which ran for 80 years or so most of them in Leif Ericson Park, or maybe all of them, I don't know.

Paul Lundgren

about 13 years ago

Not to get off topic, but for Wildgoose's benefit, I'd like to point out that there are many annual events that are mighty popular in these parts. They aren't all as huge as Grandma's Marathon, but a couple are close.

your mom

about 13 years ago

there used to be the 100k edmund fitzgerald relay road race but it ended in 2007.  there is still the birkie trail marathon relay in hayward http://www.birkie.com/?page=1073

wildgoose

about 13 years ago

Not at all, I guess I was the one who was going off topic.  Good list, Paul.

brian

about 13 years ago

There is talk - so far just talk - of starting a 5K run in Chester Bowl. It would be a fundraiser for the Chester Bowl Improvement Club, the group that coordinates the skiing, summer camp etc at Chester Bowl. Hopefully it would still happen by this fall. Watch chesterbowl.org for updates this summer.

The Big E

about 13 years ago

I get the appeal of running up Lake Avenue.  It would be a really short run though, the hill notwithstanding, and the logistics would be complex.  Here's another possibility [perhaps what Shane had in mind?]--from the mouth of the Lester River to the overlook on Hawk Ridge.  Of course if it attracts a crowd, you once again could run into some problems with parking at the start, shuttling people back down, etc.

cork1

about 13 years ago

As I person who runs a lot, I've just got to say that running a marathon with that much elevation gain would be a sufferfest. (Not unlike this.) As for 5ks in Chester Bowl -- Dan "The Unabaker" Proctor used to hold one during the NMTC Fall Trail Series and it was similarly goddamned hard.

Someday, I will return to Duluth during Grandma's Marathon and hold Grandpa's Mini-Marathon -- 26.2 meters. Heads-up sprints, knock-out format, free beer with entry, winner gets whatever's left in the keg ...

Nobody

about 13 years ago

As for wildgoose's first 6/16 post above, the Lake Avenue Downhill was not as fast as the planners thought. Snow was bad that year and they didn't have as much to work with for reducing the up/down effect at each intersection...
I watched it and it was another Duluth novelty. 
I saw Gremmels reply to another post.  He should know- I'm pretty sure he was in the event (I remember seeing him come up to Chester Bowl in his full downhill gear...sweet helmet!).

Shane

about 13 years ago

Big E, you are correct, that is what I had in mind. I think it would be a nice course for a race.  I have had the idea for a couple of years and just have not done anything about it.

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