Its not Grandmother’s. It is Grandma’s! Or en Espanol, Maraton de Abuelita.
My love for Grandma’s Marathon goes back to the last century, ha! I first met Executive Director Scott Kennan in the mid 90s. His event has been a stalwart in hosting USA National Championships for half marathon. It is one of my favorite races anywhere and with good reason. The amenities offered by Scott and his staff are unparalleled. I had made a commitment to him many years ago to run “One of the Great American Road Races.” And so, Linda & I trained up last year, toed the starting line in perhaps the best shape of my life, and danced for 18 miles with the Cruel Mistress before succumbing to hypothermia. But that is not today’s story.
Scott Keenan was one of the founders of Grandma’s back in 1977. This year will be his 37th year at the helm of the race, the longest tenure of any marathon in the country. It will also be his Grand Finale.
From the Duluth News Tribune: ”
“I know you can’t go on in a job forever, but sometimes I think I wear an S on my shirt. I still think I’m Superman,” Keenan said at his office on Canal Park Drive, near the marathon finish line.
“There’s been a turning point for me the last three years. When I’ve left the house each morning of the race I’ve told my wife (Carrie) that it was my last year. It’s been on my mind, and this year I finally decided it was in my best interest to move on. It’s hard to let go, but I’m not willing to take that stress anymore.”
“I’m a perfectionist, I’ve never wanted the race to fail, and the pressure I put on myself is much more than the reality of the race,” said Keenan, who often dabbed away tears during a half-hour interview. “I’ve thought ‘Do I do this the rest of my life?’ But unless I move on, there won’t be a new chapter, and I’m looking forward to a new chapter.”
Keenan says he’s also sensed his mortality in recent years with the passing of friends closely connected to Grandma’s Marathon, including Don Fennessy, Alex Ratelle and Kevin Peterson.
So here’s to you today Scott Keenan. Thanks for the thrilling memories of Real Racing, my final marathon attempt, for showing that it is OK after all to step away from something you created and loved, and for being a Real Friend. Your proclivity for great racing, great wine, and easy smiles will always be a fond memory.
Scott Keenan, front row right. Duluth and Grandma’s Marathon have been lucky to have him!