Twin Cities Marathon preps for its 40th Sunday run

Two women run together in a crowd, with a tether in between them.
Laura Sosalla and running guide Natalie Elmore hold a tether as they run together during the firt half of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021.
Evan Frost | MPR News

The forecast says it will be clear and 50 degrees on Sunday morning, and you could hardly ask for better weather for the 40th running of the Twin Cities 10 mile and the Twin Cities marathon this year. The marathon’s executive director Virginia Brophy Achman stopped by MPR to talk with guest host Tim Nelson about this year’s milestone race.

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Audio transcript

TIM NELSON: It's Minnesota Now. I'm Tim Nelson. So we were just talking about the weather in Florida. Back here in Minnesota, the weather is going to warm up a little back into the 70s by the weekend. But for thousands of people, it's going to be that Sunday morning low they're watching as they get ready to hit the road for the Twin Cities 10 Mile and the Twin Cities Marathon. Looks like it's going to be clear and about 50.

You could hardly ask for better weather for the 40th running of the marathon this year. Joining me to note the landmark is Virginia Brophy Achman, the marathon's executive director. Good afternoon.

VIRGINIA BROPHY ACHMAN: Hi. Good afternoon. How are you?

TIM NELSON: Great. So let's roll back the clock here a little bit. Tell me. How'd the Twin Cities Marathon start?

VIRGINIA BROPHY ACHMAN: Well, thankfully back in 1982, there were some very smart people that decided to combine the Saint Paul Marathon with the City of Lakes Marathon, and that is when Twin Cities Marathon was established, so 1982.

TIM NELSON: The City of Lakes Marathon had been going on for a while before that, right?

VIRGINIA BROPHY ACHMAN: Yeah, it had. And actually, I was looking for that this morning. In the '70s and before that, there was actually the Land of Lakes Marathon in 1963, so long history of marathons in Minnesota.

TIM NELSON: So back in 1982, how many people were there for that first try?

VIRGINIA BROPHY ACHMAN: Well, I was actually surprised. We ended up with over 3,000 finishers, so that tells me that running absolutely was very popular even back then.

TIM NELSON: Obviously a lot of people come out to watch it as well. Were there crowds out back then?

VIRGINIA BROPHY ACHMAN: Yeah. Yes I think there's a there's definitely a lot of people that like to support the marathon, but I would say probably-- at least in my tenure-- for sure, we know there's 300,000. But certainly, if you think about how many family members usually come out and cheer on and just people along the course, too-- we're so fortunate to have all those homes along the route.

TIM NELSON: And how many are going to be running it this weekend?

VIRGINIA BROPHY ACHMAN: Oh my gosh. We have 20,000 between the marathon and the 10 mile on Sunday.

TIM NELSON: Wow.

VIRGINIA BROPHY ACHMAN: I know.

TIM NELSON: And it's not just a race anymore. It's kind of a phenomenon. Like you said, these people come out. There's a big swath of the Twin Cities that just kind of shuts down. Everybody kind of takes a pause to watch this. What's made it so successful?

VIRGINIA BROPHY ACHMAN: Well, I think it's several things. I think we're fortunate to have an absolutely beautiful course that attracts the runners, which then attracts the spectators. And I think this community is very healthy and moves and appreciates what people do, the accomplishments that they make on marathon weekend.

It's pretty amazing to see so many people realize their goals and their dreams. And I just think we are very fortunate to have a community that wants to come out and see for themselves-- what it's like to complete 26.2 miles.

TIM NELSON: And I think a lot of people just think about this weekend and think about that achievement on that single day. But Twin Cities Marathon isn't just the first Sunday of October. You've got events going all around the year now, right?

VIRGINIA BROPHY ACHMAN: Yeah, we sure do. Twin Cities in Motion has races in March, April, May, July, and October, and now Thanksgiving, so we are definitely a full year of events.

TIM NELSON: And I understand you have one of another of the Twin Cities famous races is joining your roster.

VIRGINIA BROPHY ACHMAN: Oh, yes. Yes. We are the new stewards of the Get in Gear, which is held in April. We wanted to help continue that time-honored tradition, and they gifted that event to us so that we could keep it going.

TIM NELSON: It's quite an event. I can't ever remember being more miserable than running in the rain in April there. But I know it's the season opener for a lot of folks, and they love to get out there and run along the river there. So I know you're making some changes of your own, right? You're getting ready to pass the baton here.

VIRGINIA BROPHY ACHMAN: Yes, I am. I was looking forward to celebrating 40. And so obviously with that delay, I didn't want to leave until I could help celebrate all the great years of runners and the work that everyone has put in and so super excited to celebrate this year and know that TCM is in a great place coming out of the pandemic and able to move forward and do even more in the community.

TIM NELSON: Fantastic. Well, thank you so much, Virginia. I hope the race goes well.

VIRGINIA BROPHY ACHMAN: Thank you.

TIM NELSON: That's Virginia Brophy Achman, the outgoing director of the Twin Cities Marathon. It's going to be run live for the 40th time on Sunday. Now, 10 mile racers are going to take the shortcut from Minneapolis to Saint Paul starting at 7:00 AM. The marathoners start at 8:00, so be on the lookout for them out there and plan for some interruptions in traffic. Give those folks, the spectators and the runners, the room they need this weekend.

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