Ely Marathon on as scheduled

Sept. 26 event in the works; canoe trip prizes for winners

by Tom Coombe
At least for now, the Ely Marathon and its associated events are still on as scheduled.
The 26.2-mile race that wraps up at Ely’s Whiteside Park is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26, and organizers are proceeding - and have even announced unique prize packages for the winners - with their plans.
“Although no one knows what course COVID-19 will take in September, we are hopeful about our little race taking place,” said Wendy Lindsay, who has organized the event since its inception several years ago.
Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, which is held each June, has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic while numerous other sports and community events have also been scrapped or delayed.
In Ely, the Blueberry/Art Festival set for July has been cancelled but the Harvest Moon Festival, slated for Sept. 11-13 is still on.
The marathon follows two weeks later and Lindsay says she will hold out before making a decision to postpone.
“There are so many facets to take into consideration in a timeline to cancel a race like this,” she said. “We have a lot of runners who travel from a far distance to get here and need to make plans. ”
Another prime consideration, Lindsay said are the community groups that depend on funds they generate from the event. Also part of the equation are race sponsors and the numerous volunteers needed to pull off the event.
Finances are also sure to play a part in any decision.
“July is when we begin to accumulate a lot of our costs for the race, and with the extremely small margins for funding we would ideally like to be able to make a decision at that point,” said Lindsay.
The full 26.2-mile marathon from the Echo Trail to the city part is just part of a weekend of festivities, with race day also including a 13.1-mile half-marathon, which also finishes in the park, as well as Ely’s own canoe portage division where marathon and half-marathon runners race while carrying canoes.
The event starts the evening before with a 5K run.
Participation has continued to grow, with the marathon and associated events attracting 923 participants and 782 finishers in 2019.
A new twist for 2020 are prize packages with a decided Ely area theme.
The male and female winner of the full marathon will receive their own five-day, completely-outfitted canoe trip for two to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, courtesy of Spirit of the Wilderness.
Each half-marathon winner gets a three-day BWCAW canoe trip, and Northstar Canoe is offering a canoe to the fastest finisher in the portage division, should last year’s top time of 5:01 be beaten.
Should circumstances force the cancellation of this year’s marathon, those who have already entered will have the opportunity to transfer their registration to the 2021 race.
More information about the event can be found online at www.elymarathon.com.