Beds are filling up as Grandma’s kicks off tourism seasonGrandma’s Marathon has often been considered the true starting point for the tourism season along the North Shore.
Grandma’s Marathon has often been considered the true starting point for the tourism season along the North Shore. With an economy still struggling, there’s hope that the coming season will be a good one.
Just more than 7,300 runners registered for this year’s race, the lowest total in 15 years. Grandma’s is facing more regional competition. The Fargo Marathon is in its sixth year – nearly 17,000 runners took part in four races May 21-22. There are two Minnesota events in their second year – last week’s Stillwater Marathon and the June 6 Minneapolis Marathon.
Weather may not be helping matters. The marathon built its reputation on cool weather in its early years, but the past three races have been warm.
Last year, the temperature was in the mid-60s by the 7:30 a.m. start, with 78 percent humidity, and climbed to 80 degrees. At one point, medical officials considered stopping the marathon. The day before in Duluth it was cool and foggy.
Darrin Young, general manager of Superior Shores, feels the impact of the race. As of last week, he had between 75-80 percent occupancy for the weekend.
“It’s typically one of our busiest weekends,” Young said. He said the hotel is typically full in advance, historically by January or February, but not this year. Last year, the hotel almost filled up for race weekend.
Tyler Knutson, who is in first year managing AmericInn in Two Harbors, said it is booked to capacity much like last year.
Vicky Louks, general manager for Country Inn, said they are fully booked. “We have 80 percent who are return people,” she said. Guests are asked to book for the next year before they leave, which seems to work well as 80 percent of the rooms are full a few weeks after Grandma’s. “It’s a nice jump for summer.”
Mike Kasell, owner of Do North Pizza in Two Harbors, also sees business increase during Grandma’s. A few years ago they tried selling spaghetti to runners so they could fuel up on carbohydrates – he usually doesn’t have it on the menu – but runners chose to go with pizza instead. “It was really weird,” he said. “The runners said ‘We’re craving pizza.’”
Kasell said the weekends are usually busy around the restaurant, but more so during Grandma’s. “It’s the kick off to our busy time.”