Thousands of runners from throughout the country converged on Duluth Saturday to compete in the Grandma’s Marathon and the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, including 14 from International Falls.

The Falls was represented by eight runners in the half marathon, including first-time competitor David Stewart.

Stewart said preparing for the half marathon was a months-long process.

“I ran between 40 and 50 miles a week in March, April and May,” he said. “In the winter I also ran three days a week.”

Stewart also said the half marathon was a lot of fun, but it did have its difficulties.

“It was a blast, but the last mile was pretty difficult,” he said. “There were a lot of hills in the last mile.”

On his overall experience at the event, Stewart said it was an experience he will remember.

“It’s almost hard to put it into words,” he said. “It was an awesome weekend. Everyone who was running were excited and upbeat and all the volunteers were excellent. If you like to run I’d definitely recommend it.”

Six runners also represented the Falls in the Grandma’s Marathon, including 54-year-old Bob Bahr.

Bahr said he was happy about seeing younger runners from the community participate in the event.

“I was really happy to see some new young marathoners from town join us more experienced marathoners at Grandma’s to help carry on and build a strong running community in International Falls,” he said.

One of said younger runners was John Cowman, who said he was surprised by the atmosphere at the Grandma’s Marathon.

“I didn’t really know what to expect for my first marathon but it really surprised me just by how great the atmosphere was, and how fun the race actually ended up being,” he said. “It got me excited to try and do another race sometime later this year.”

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