People from all over the country travel to Minnesota for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. I’m proud of the fact that we host such a popular race, one that is known not only for pretty fall scenery (it’s called “The Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America” for a good reason), but also the efficient, helpful, and friendly organizers, volunteers, and spectators.
This is Midwest hospitality at its best!
I’ve been a race spectator four times now—cheering on various “runner friends”—and this will be the second year I’ve run the Medtronic Twin Cities 10 Mile, also a popular race that happens in conjunction with the marathon (albeit on a much smaller scale than 26.2 miles).
As a participator, I will have the opportunity to run from Mall of America Field (a.k.a. the Metrodome) to the Minnesota State Capitol, over the Franklin Bridge, along the banks of the Mississippi River, and down Summit Avenue. When I’ve had out-of-town friends visiting, I’ve made it a point to drive through the historic Summit Avenue neighborhood (I’m a sucker for Victorian-era homes), past our Capitol, the Basilica, and the Cathedral, and along the Mighty Mississippi. So when it comes to showing off the best of the Twin Cities—within 26.2 miles or less—I honestly can’t think of a better scenic tour for running 10 miles or the marathon. The leaves are at their peak, too, which makes it that much sweeter.
As a spectator, my advice is to wear layers (Minnesota weather can be unpredictable on the first Sunday of October), give yourself plenty of time to get to your designated “cheering” spot (there’s nothing worse than realizing you’ve missed the person you came to see because you arrived too late), cheer for anyone who has his or her name on their shirt (those are the runners seeking encouragement!), and ask the person you’re coming to watch what he or she will be wearing. It makes it a lot easier to spot someone when you know exactly what to find.
If you have kids with you, make sure you have drinks and snacks for them, and maybe a cowbell or horn to keep them busy and involved. Last year my family watched along Summit Avenue, right around the seven-mile point. The long strips of boulevard grass gave the little ones plenty of space to burn off energy while we watched for our friends to run by.
I can’t give marathon advice since I’ve never run that far, but my beginning-level runner’s advice after the 10-mile is not to start too fast (that can be tough when everyone takes off in a massive stampede!); you can conquer that slow, steady climb up Summit (I think I can-I think I can-I think I can), and make sure to soak in how beautiful Minnesota is this time of year. When you cross the finish line, feel proud that you had the mental and physical stamina to run from Minneapolis to St. Paul! Remind yourself of that whenever you’re facing future challenges.
And if you’re anything like me, it will be an unforgettable experience, one that you’ll want to repeat.