ELY - Running a 26.2-mile marathon is a real challenge for any runner. Running a full 26.2-mile marathon will carrying a canoe is a challenge only for the stoutest of hearts. In an age of new, …
ELY - Running a 26.2-mile marathon is a real challenge for any runner. Running a full 26.2-mile marathon will carrying a canoe is a challenge only for the stoutest of hearts. In an age of new, extreme running events, perhaps none is more Minnesotan than a marathon portaging race.
That challenge awaits participants in the Marathon Portage Division of the 2018 Ely Marathon on Saturday, Sept. 22.
“This is the first official race of its kind and will be registered with the Guinness Book of World Records,” said organizer Wendy Lindsay. The Boundary Waters Bank Half Marathon, which takes place on the same day, added a canoe division last year. Currently there are 14 canoe carriers registered for the races. Runners not up for portaging a canoe can also participate in the traditional marathons.
The idea of portaging a canoe in the race took off a couple of years ago, according to Lindsay, after a few participants focused in on the race’s marketing pitch for the full marathon as an “8,390-rod portage,” a reference to the number of rods in 26.2 miles. Portages in the nearby Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, where canoes and camping gear are transported between lakes, are measured in rods.
Last year, three entrants carried a canoe for the half of the marathon course, 13.1 miles. Daniel Drehmel, a 30-year-old Ely resident, completed the course in just over two hours and 21 minutes. “We didn’t have an official division event,” Lindsay said. “We’ve had quite a few people who have expressed interest in doing it.”
According to marathon organizers, for 2018, the portage division includes options for those who are searching for the challenge of portaging a canoe for the entire 26.2-mile race on their own, or a team relay division which will allow up to six members. “”Racers have to finish the course in at least eight hours,” Lindsay said.
First-, second- and third-place winners in the full portage division, where runners must navigate the entire course with a canoe on their shoulders, will get smooth, shiny wood medallions from XY Co., maker of handcrafted canoe paddles.
According to the marathon rules, canoes to be used for the Ely Marathon or Boundary Waters Bank Half Marathon must be a traditional canoe designed to be paddled by one or two people. Kayaks, models, plastic, inflatable and cardboard are not allowed.
Almost 800 people participated in last year’s event, that included the 26.2-mile full marathon, the half marathon, and the five-kilometer Northern Lights Glow Run as well as a kids marathon, called the “Dorothy Molter Root Beer Run,” in honor of the last indigenous resident of the BWCAW.
This is the fourth year that the Ely Marathon and Boundary Waters Bank Half Marathon have drawn thousands of people to the edge of the wilderness for this memorable race. As of this week, more than 100 racers are registered for this year’s Full Marathon, according to Lindsay, and more than 350 runners plan to run the Boundary Waters Bank Half Marathon. Race registration is open until Friday, Sept. 21.
A “Kids Marathon” coined the Dorothy Molter Root Beer Run will take place on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 8:45 a.m. in which kids who have run 25 miles prior to race day finish out the last 1.2 miles of the marathon route to finish at the official marathon finish line. As many as 100 children are signed up for the Dorothy Molter Root Beer Run, Lindsay said..
Also set to be part of this year’s event are a fitness expo, live music, obstacle course and food trucks, Lindsay said. The weekend will culminate with a concert at Whiteside Park from 6-9 p.m. on Saturday, with the Christopher David Hanson Band.
The Ely Marathon and Boundary Waters Bank Marathon is hosted by the Ely Chamber of Commerce, city of Ely and Incredible Ely. It is coordinated by Stone Soup Events.
Registration and additional information can be found at elymarathon.com or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schedule of Events
Noon to 10 p.m. - Packet Pickup at Vermilion Community College
6 p.m. - Dane Rauschenberg Speaks at Vermilion Community College
7 p.m. - Northern Lights 5K Glow Run
5:30 to 7:30 a.m. - Bus out to start line
7:30 a.m. -All traffic cleared from course route
7:30 a.m. - Ely Marathon start
8 a.m. - Boundary Waters Bank Half Marathon start
8 a.m. to 4 p.m. - Race Expo and Food Booths at Whiteside Park
8:45 a.m. - Children’s Marathon start at Sheridan and 14th Ave. East
9 to 3 p.m. - Live music at Whiteside Park
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. - Epic Blow-up Obstacle Course at Whiteside Park (For Kids)
10 a.m. - Chocoholic Frolic at participating merchants in Ely
9 a.m. to 9 p.m. - Jaycees Beer Tent at Whiteside Park
1 p.m. - Awards Ceremony at band shell
6 to 9 p.m. - Christopher David Hanson Band Concert at Whiteside Park - Free