In October we profiled several Twin Cities Marathon participants who came up with virtual alternatives after the 39th race was canceled by the coronavirus pandemic. The group included three charters members, who, autumn after autumn, had run the previous 38. We circled back to see how some of those profiled fared in their battles with 26.2 miles. Here is what we heard, in their words, edited for length:

Paul Arbisi, Edina, charter member

TCM 2020 was one of the top five of the 50 marathons I’ve run because of the unique circumstances and context in which it was held. I chose to run the TCM route on Oct 4, the day TCM was to have taken place. I ran with a younger colleague who had signed up for TCM. My La Squadra skiing and biking buddies went to work and arranged to have bikers and other runners jump in along the route to offer moral support and fluids if needed. 

The day could not have been better for a slow but steady run from Minneapolis to St. Paul.  The sun was shining, there was no wind, and the temperature was perfect.  I noticed two other runners lining up close to where the start line is on 6th Street to begin their run.  A third man gave the start commands and off the runners went. The man walked over and asked if we would like him to start our race. The man acknowledged that he was with the TCM and has worked the start each year. He decided to come down to the start to continue the tradition and see if anyone needed a starter. After singing a very abbreviated first verse of The Star-Spangled Banner, we were given the start commands and off we went. I was accompanied by friends and family throughout the race. My wife, daughters, and son-in-law were at their usual spot on the corner of Hamline and Summit where we stopped for elbow bumps and pictures.   

The finish this year lacked the pageantry and noise but was nonetheless made memorable by my family and friends. I noticed there were other small groups of friends and families waiting for their runners to come down the hill and end their races. In many ways, this was the most low-key and personal marathon I have run. To be able to share the whole experience including the always-challenging last 10K with friends and family was a running highlight.”

Mary Croft, Bayport, charter member

“I ran my virtual Twin Cities Marathon Oct. 2. It turned out to be the coldest day of the week, about 32 degrees when we started in downtown Stillwater. My boyfriend, Paul, our mutual friend Randy, and I headed out at 8. The course turned out to be perfect on country roads in WI. And in some areas the fall leaf color was at its peak.

We had no pressure because the marathon staff had waived the six-hour time limit. This allowed us to run at a leisurely pace, especially for Randy and Paul, and both were surprised at the easy recovery the next couple of days after the race. We had mimosas on the riverfront in Stillwater after we were done and rejoiced that one more Twin Cities Marathon was done. And surprisingly my finish was under six hours, which was very satisfying and only possible because of the help from our crew and the great running support I had from my two running partners.”

Linda Williams-Brettingen, Eagan

“I had one of my friends, April Elmer, who ran intermittently throughout the marathon. I started at 7 a.m. Oct. 4 (at Cleary Lake) and it was a little chilly, so I wore my gloves and jacket for the first 10 miles or so. This was a difficult marathon. I did run several miles alone, but I was listening to my music and kept moving.

I started to get a little tired after running about 20 miles. I wanted to cry after 24 miles. I thought to myself, who in their right mind would do something like this? Three of my friends showed up to support me during the run, where they walked counterclockwise, and I ran clockwise so I could see them. We waved and blew kisses as we passed each other. My oldest son came as I was finishing up the race to take my photos and bring flowers to congratulate me. My husband took photos before having to leave at 9 a.m. and bought me the cake from my favorite bakery. I'm so glad I can check the major accomplishment off my bucket list.”

Gulnara DeBoer, Victoria

“It went better than I expected. Weather was perfect, a cool morning to a slight warmup to defrost my fingers. I ran Carver Park Reserve and the streets of Victoria. We had a DIY finish line at my driveway, too. My husband, Nick, provided elite-level fueling support. He was amazing. My in-laws watched Eva for us. My friend and her daughter drove from Maple Grove to greet me at a finish line. Such support. My mom was with me all the way!”

Joel Huting, Minneapolis

“The run was great. It didn’t have the Intense energy and competitive spirit of a regular marathon, but I had a very supportive team (wife and close family) and set of friends cheering me on via social media. The weather was perfect. Partly sunny and 45 degrees or so. The cool air coming into the mask made it easier than my training runs over the summer. The George Floyd memorial was a high note. Beautiful tribute and vivid reminder of what our city has gone through and the continued injustices. From there, I enjoyed flat, stoplight-free laps around Lake Harriet and Bde Maka Ska. The mask just sort of became part of my body and I stopped thinking about it at this point. Mile 26 was super hard though, and my pace dropped to about 8 minutes per mile. My wife and father-in-law along with our neighbors met me at the finish line and we had some good cheers. Overall, running in a mask wasn’t that bad. It’s a little annoying to have a mask on at first, but I really did get used to it and it became a non-event. Runners should be wearing masks, especially on packed trails like the Lake Harriet and Bde Maka Ska parkway trails.”

Christy Gove, Forest Lake

“I started at 7 a.m. on Oct 4. A good friend met me with her bike and a backpack to accompany me the entire way. I ran along the Mississippi River as the sun was rising. My daughter biked the first 10 miles with me. At mile 10, we turned onto the Gateway Trail and my family was there to cheer me on. My youngest played her violin there. The weather was amazing: cool and sunny and perfect.  At mile 20, I had a group of family and friends at Duluth Junction (where the Gateway meets Brown's Creek Trail). There were chalk messages, signs, and my middle child played the University of Minnesota fight song on her oboe. I ran the last 6 miles down into Stillwater with several biking friends alongside me. I turned onto the Stillwater Lift Bridge and crossed a homemade finish line to cheers from my friends and family. We all hung out at picnic tables next to the river and chatted. My parents brought drinks and snacks for everyone. It was surreal at that point. I just sat, drank water and beer, and ate French fries in the sun while all my lovely people chatted and laughed around me. It was a truly amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

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