DULUTH — Grandma’s Marathon is adding a female runner to its logo, a move race organizers say is “long overdue.”
“We thought with the 45th anniversary coming up it would be a great time to make that update,” said Shane Bauer, executive director of Grandma’s Marathon. “It’s been talked about for years.”
The logo was adapted from founding sponsor Grandma’s Saloon and Grill and features black-and-white drawings of three runners in a loop. The middle runner was replaced with a woman.
An increasing number of women have run Grandma’s nearly every year since it began in 1977, and a majority of half-marathon runners have been women since that event began in 1991.
“Thinking about Kathrine Switzer pushing her way into the Boston Marathon, that wasn’t so long ago,” Bauer said about the first woman to run that race in 1967.
“There has been quite the flip.”
Duluth native and Olympic long-distance runner Kara Goucher said she’s “proud” that organizers updated the branding.
“I think we women want representation and I think to have it in the logo is a really big deal,” said Goucher, who lives in Boulder, Colo., but was visiting Duluth this week.
“Those are small steps that make a huge difference for their audience.”
Goucher is an advocate for getting more women and girls into running. After handing out water at Grandma’s Marathon and “loving the race” as a spectator while growing up, the 42-year-old said it was important to “see what was possible.”
“I think it’s one of the great sports where there is equal representation — you’re never going to see that in football or basketball or soccer,” she said. “It’s one of the places where we have equal access most of the time.”
Bauer said that women have also played an important role in the Grandma’s Marathon organization, making up a majority of the paid staff.
“If you look at our history, women have really run the show,” he said. The logo change was prompted by Grandma’s Gazette, the official race publication from Grandma’s Restaurant, which added a woman to its line-art logo in 2019, Bauer said.
Next year’s marathon will be run at half capacity — 4,000 each for the full marathon and the half and 1,500 for the 5K. Race weekend typically draws 18,000 runners and is a major boost for Duluth’s tourism economy.
The race runs along the North Shore between Two Harbors and Canal Park in Duluth and is a Boston qualifier.
Bauer said “we’re choosing to be optimistic” about running the race in person next year, but the pandemic may have other plans.
The 2020 race scheduled for June 22 was canceled at the end of March, marking the first cancellation since the marathon began.
The 45th-annual Grandma’s Marathon and Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon are scheduled for June 19.