Yesterday, Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minn., announced another interesting partnership – the Great Lakes Marathon Series.
The Great Lakes Marathon Series is a collaboration of 25 marathons in the U.S. and Canada that take place along North America’s five Great Lakes.
The group has partnered with the Alliance for the Great Lakes – a four-star rated independent citizens organization devoted to the Great Lakes’ ecosystem and economies – to raise awareness of conservation and restoration efforts.
By partnering with the Alliance for the Great Lakes, the series’ goal is to invite the running world to enjoy the unique beauty of the individual races, while simultaneously raising awareness and funds needed to protect all five of the Great Lakes.
Participants will receive awards at various benchmarks throughout the series along with a grand prize after completion of all 25 races, regardless of how many years needed to complete the entire marathon tour. Registration for the Great Lakes Marathon Series itself is available at [above link] and is free to all those interested.
Runners will be required to pay each individual marathon entry fee in order to participate, and signing up for the Great Lakes Marathon Series does not guarantee entry into any race. Also, only participation in races in 2013 and future years will be recognized as part of the Great Lakes Marathon Series.
The first marathon in the series is the Medical Mutual Glass City Marathon in Toledo, Ohio, on April 28, 2013. Registration is currently available for this race, and registrants who use the promotion code “water” and register before March 31 will receive a $10 discount. The last marathon in the series this year will take place on November 3, at the Hamilton Marathon in Ontario.
The one notable exception to the list of 25 participating marathons is the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon. I emailed Jon Mueller, the new MLM race director for 2013, to ask him about this. As of this posting, I had not yet heard back from him.
The Great Lakes Marathon Series is the second such announcement from Grandma's this year. In January they announced a collaboration with Twin Cities Marathon and the American Birkebeiner to create the Upper Midwest Endurance Challenge.
The Series concept is not entirely new to upper midwest runners. The Upper Midwest Trail Runners, for instance, host a Trail Series with races of varying distances.
Locally-owned Minnesota running store, TC Running Company, hosts the Endless Summer Trail Run Series, with four races at different Twin Cities parks. Race distances from 5K to 7 Miles.
The Minnesota Distance Running Association (MDRA) hosts a Grand Prix series every year for members. The Grand Prix schedule features races throughout the year including one indoor track meet, a cross country race and numerous road races. With race distances from 1 mile (indoor track and road race) to marathon (Grandma's and TCM), the Series is challenging and fun.
The United States Track & Field Association, Minnesota (USATF-MN) hosts a Team Circuit for its members (who also need to be part of USATF-MN registered teams) every year including road races from 1-mile to the marathon.