DULUTH – Teammates, training partners and best friends Annie Frisbie of Edina and Dakotah Lindwurm of Hopkins had a plan for Saturday's 34th Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon: break the women's course record.

No problem.

Both bettered the mark in placing 1-2. Frisbie, 27, won in 1 hour, 7 minutes, 33 seconds. Lindwurm, a 2024 U.S. Olympian in the marathon, was 30 seconds back in 1:08:03. Maggie Montoya set the course best just a year ago in 1:09:26.

Elisha Barno wins sixth Grandma's Marathon title

"We push each other a lot in training and in races," said Frisbie, a member of the Minnesota Distance Elite team in Minneapolis. "I wasn't surprised to win and I wouldn't have been surprised if she had won. We were both ready."

It was a morning for speed. Despite dire forecasts of rain, it was dry and 55 degrees for much of the half marathon, which started at 6 a.m. Nearly ideal conditions greeted 9,639 entrants.

The weather also aided a men's course record by Olympian Tebello Ramakongoana, 27, of Lesotho, who won in 1:00:17, breaking the mark of 1:01:22 by Meb Keflezighi in 2013. Lesotho is a country of 2.2 million in the eastern highlands of South Africa. Ramakongoana will be Lesotho's only men's marathon entrant in the Summer Olympics on Aug. 10 in Paris.

Like Frisbie, Ramakongoana was making his Duluth debut and ran alone for the 13.1 miles along the North Shore to Canal Park. He finished nearly two minutes ahead of runner-up (and teammate) Tsegay Weldlibanos, 28, of Eritrea, second in 1:02:04.

"I needed this race for confidence before going to Paris," said Ramakongoana, who set a marathon best of 2:08:09, finishing 12th in Osaka, Japan, in February. "I just took the lead from the start. That was my plan."

The time qualified him for the 2025 World Half Marathon Championships. He's already the Lesotho's national record-holder in the marathon. The top three men's finishers Saturday train with the James McKirdy-coached team in Flagstaff, Ariz. Nathan Martin, 34, of Jackson, Mich., fourth in the 2023 Grandma's Marathon, was third in 1:02:36.

Since placing third in the U.S. Olympic Trials marathon Feb. 3 in Orlando, Lindwurm has been getting the elite treatment, including many media assignments. On Friday, the native of St. Francis had a fun run with Duluth folks instead of resting.

"I might've been running on tired legs, but I still knew that the course record was going down," said Lindwurm, a two-time Grandma's Marathon women's winner. "Whether it was hot or cold, windy or rainy, it wasn't going to make a difference. Annie and I wanted to go for it."

Frisbie, 10th at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials, has noticed growth in her teammate over the past year with an eye on Paris.

"There was a new level of confidence I'd never seen before. There was just something about her that said she was going to make the Olympic team," said Frisbie, who grew up in River Falls, Wis., and ran Grandma's Marathon as a 14-year-old.

Joyline Chemutai, 30, of Kenya was third in the women's race in 1:10:50.

The winners each earned $3,000. Second place was worth $2,000 and third $1,500.

Streak is alive

Jim Nowak and John Naslund kept their streaks alive Saturday, now having started and finished every Grandma's Marathon through 48 years.

Naslund, 74, from Bloomington, Minn., finished in 4:56:26. The native of Two Harbors, Minn., has also finished all 47 Twin Cities Marathon races.

Nowak, 73, from Cornell, Wis., came in at 6:18:35. He grew up in Duluth.

Kenyan Lamech Mokono, 43, the 2008 men's winner, was second among those 40 and older in 2:28:37. Men's course record holder Dominic Ondoro of Kenya did not finish.

The top Minnesota finisher among Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon men was Joel Reichow, 30, of White Bear Lake, fourth in 1:02:42.

Etc.

• The results website for Saturday's races had some update issues. However, total finishers for the marathon was unofficially being counted at 7,525, breaking the record of 7,518 set in 2016. There were 6,690 finishers last year. Half marathon finishers were listed at 7,787, compared to 7,489 in 2023.

• The medical tent had 170 patients Saturday, said Kaily McLellan, a sports medicine physician with Essentia Health. A cool day meant a limited number of runners in distress: "It was pretty mild, with some runners overheated and some too cold," McLellan said. Seven runners needed to be transferred to the hospital.