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On the Road to Grandma’s: Running legends to entertain with pre-race talk show

Grandma’s Marathon invites runners and other guests to get inspired and be entertained as they listen to this year’s excellent lineup of guests.

The usual pre-race speakers will be swapped out for the introduction of a new Pre-Race Talk Show that will be hosted by running legends Dick Beardsley and Carrie Tollefson. Their talk show guests will include Kara Goucher, John Naslund and Grandma Rosa.

The presentation will begin at 4 p.m. on Friday in the Edmund Fitzgerald Hall at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. Along with their guest interviews, there will be prize giveaways and a dedicated Q&A time with Beardsley and Tollefson. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Beardsley is known as one of the best marathon runners in U.S. history. Winner of Grandma’s Marathon in 1981 and 1982, Dick held the course record with a time of 2:09:37 for 33 years. His most famous race, however, took place at the 1982 Boston Marathon where he crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 53 seconds, just two seconds behind Alberto Salazar.

Beardsley remains a prominent figure in the running community and travels around the world to share his amazing stories.

Tollefson is recognized as one of the best runners to come out of Minnesota. She grew up in Dawson, MN, and won 13 Minnesota high school championships in cross country and track. While at Villanova University, she won five NCAA championships individually and was a member of the 1999 NCAA Cross Country Championships team.

Tollefson joined Team USA Minnesota in 2001 and since then has been a three-time national champion (1500 meters, 3000 meters and 4k cross country) and a member of three U.S. World teams. In addition to being a professional runner, she is also a television broadcaster and has provided commentary for many racing events throughout the nation.

Goucher is a Duluth native, and the current course record holder for the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon with a time of 1:09:46 that she set in 2012. She graduated from the University of Colorado with three Division I NCAA championships in cross-country, the 3000m and 5000m.

Goucher is a two-time Olympian, an American record holder, World Championships silver medalist, and one of the most accomplished female distance runners of all time. She is an advocate for clean sport and women’s rights, and she connects with organizations and non-profits that are making a positive impact.

Naslund is one of three people that have run all 41 Grandma’s Marathons and will be holding up the streak again this year for the 42nd Annual. He was a member of the original North Shore Striders and has run over 150 marathons throughout his life.

Grandma Rosa is the official mascot of Grandma’s Marathon. The idea was created in 1977 by Sandy Brennan and is now played by her daughter, Leah Hulst. Leah took over for her mother in 1992 and has played the role ever since. When Leah isn’t dressed up as Grandma, she spends her time singing in her band, Lake City Smokin’ Section, which will be performing at the Big Top Tent on race day, Saturday.