Grandma's Marathon winners from Kenya and Boulder

Boniface Kongin of Kenya won his first Grandma's Marathon men's race.
Boniface Kongin of Kenya won his first Grandma's Marathon men's race Saturday.
Clint Austin | Duluth News Tribune

More than 20,000 runners are in Duluth this weekend for the 43rd Grandma's marathon.

Boniface Kongin, 29, of Kenya, won the men's division Saturday morning with a time of 2:11:56. He also won this year's Pittsburgh Marathon.

In the women's division, Nell Rojas, 31, of Boulder, Colo., won with a time of 2:28:06.

Weather conditions were good, with temps in the low 50s at the start of the marathon at 7:45 a.m.

Grandma Marathon winners
Nell Rojas of Boulder, Colo., wins the women's race at Grandma's Marathon on Saturday.
Clint Austin | Duluth News Tribune

Grandma's started in 1977 by a group of runners known as the North Shore Striders. They hatched the idea for a marathon course running from Two Harbors along the shore of Lake Superior to Canal Park in Duluth. There were about 100 runners that first year.

This year, nearly 9,000 registered for the marathon, with about 11 thousand more running in the half marathon and 5K races.

Spokesperson Mandi Peterson said runners are signed up from all 50 states and 46 countries.

"So it's really fun when they come from all over the world and speak different languages and just bring a whole different dimension to race weekend," said Peterson.

She said it's one of the 15 largest marathons in the country.

"Part of the draw is just our location, we're on the edge of Lake Superior. I also think too, it's a flat course, so it's pretty fast," Peterson said. "I think a lot of runners come here because they know they can get a fast time off of the course."

Peterson says Grandma's is a top qualifer for the Boston Marathon.

Grandma Marathon winners
Carrie Tollefson is the first woman to cross the finish line at the William A. Irvin 5K in Duluth on Friday. Tollefson finished in 18 minutes and 11 seconds to win her fifth Irvin 5K.
Ellen Schmidt | Duluth News Tribune

On Friday, two St. Paul runners won the William A. Irvin 5K

Matthew Scherber won the 3.1-mile race in the men's division with a time of 15:24. In the women's division, Carrie Tollefson took the title once again with a time of 18:11. Tollefson came in first place in 2017 and 2018 as well.

It takes nearly six thousand volunteers to put on the race.

MnDOT expects the marathon to slow traffic on I-35 to Duluth and on other local highways. Many local roads are also closed throughout the weekend.

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