35 Years Later, Garry Bjorklund Recalls First Grandma’s

A shoe problem nearly cost him the win.

Garry Bjorklund, right, battles with Dick Beardsley in the 5th edition of Grandma's Marathon. Photo: Duluth News Tribune

A shoe problem nearly cost him the win.

In 1977, Garry Bjorklund was a rookie racer in an inaugural race, Grandma’s Marathon. By the 19th mile, he had realized he had made a rookie mistake, wearing new shoes for the first time in a race.

His feet were killing him and so he stopped, removed them, and then hailed a friend on a bicycle to bring him his well-worn Nike Waffle Trainers.

Despite the shoe malfunction, Bjorklund went on to win the race by over five minutes.

“I should’ve known better, but I just grabbed a pair of racing shoes off the wall of my store and used those,” he now recalls. “After that, I used the most protective shoes I could find and forgot about the light-weight models. I thank my lucky stars that I had another pair of shoes, because I don’t think I could’ve finished without them.”

Bjorklund, now a resident of Fort Collins, Colorado, returns to Grandma’s this weekend to celebrate its 35th anniversary. He will be providing radio commentary for the 21st Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon. Bjorklund will be joined by marathon legends Dick Beardsley and Lorraine Moller.

For More: Duluth News Tribune