“Oooh. Wow. Oh, golly,” groaned Dick Beardsley, when hit with the news Tuesday morning that Grandma's Marathon had been canceled.

The move is especially acute for Beardsley, a Minnesota running legend revered in Duluth and whose marathon course record set in 1981 (2:09:37) stood up for 33 years. The love flows both ways -- he calls Duluth his second hometown, and has returned every year since his landmark day. He last ran the marathon in 2006, and continues to officially call the race. (Beardsley is shown below with Dominic Ondoro after Ondoro broke his record in 2014.)

Beardsley said he recently had been checking on the race’s status, hoping for the best in the face of the pandemic’s unknowns. “I know (the organizers) put a lot of thought into this,” he said, “and I’m sure they are just as disappointed as all the runners are going to be.”

Beardsley continues to make race appearances across the country, does some online coaching, and feeds his other love – fishing – with a guide business. In fact, he was on the road to his home in Bemidji from a fishing trip to South Dakota when the Grandma’s news broke.

“I’m been fortunate to go to a lot of events, but there just is something special about Grandma’s. Just the way the community just envelops it and takes so much pride in it.”

Beardsley had hopeful words for Duluth, Grandma’s, and maybe the running community at large.

“Sometimes what we perceive as our greatest disappointment can sometimes turn out to be a huge blessing,” he said. “I hope that’s the case with Grandma’s Marathon, and next year we’ll be back bigger and better than ever.”