Why the Marquette Marathon Should Be On Your Running Bucket List

Whether you’re an experienced runner or just getting into the sport, the Marquette Marathon has everything you want in a destination race.

Marquette marathonLast year, runners from 27 states and Canada made the trek to compete in the Upper Peninsula town and local running insiders say the popularity of the event will likely continue to grow.

“As people find out about this race, it’s going to be a big deal,” said Derek Lindstrom, owner of Excelsior Running in Excelsior, Minn., and a Marquette native.

Lindstrom, along with race director Cris Osier and Queen City Running Company owner Kevin Thomsen gave us the scoop on why your next racing medal should be from Marquette.

  1. The Course is Gorgeous. The full marathon course starts in the small iron mining town of Ishpeming and the half marathon begins in Negaunee at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum. Both will take you through heavily wooded areas on the Iron Ore Heritage Trail and open up to scenic views of Lake Superior. Full marathoners get to run around beautiful Presque Isle, while half marathoners will pass by the Superior Dome, the largest such structure in the world. Osier said runners love the point-to-point races, which both end on Third Street in the heart of Marquette’s booming downtown.
  2. It’s Also Fast … From marathon start to finish, there’s a net elevation drop of 1,037 feet, making it an extremely fast course. “You’re not going to find that anywhere in the Midwest,” Thomsen said. Lindstrom said the half marathon is also “blazing fast.”
  3. … and Historic. Osier said running along the Iron Ore Heritage Trail, which was converted from the old railroad line that used to transport iron ore from the region’s mines to be shipped off, gives visitors a unique glimpse into the area’s history.
  4. Think Boston. The marathon is a Boston qualifier and one of your last chances to qualify with registration opening up about a week after the race. “Strategically, it’s placed perfectly,” Lindstrom said.
  5. The Weather is (Typically) Cool. Average temps reach 70 degrees for a high, with an average low of 54, perfect for runners who prefer things on the cooler side.
  6. Enjoy a Natural Recovery Aid. The chilly temps of Lake Superior make it the perfect spot to submerge aching muscles and fight off inflammation after your race.
  7. Make it a Holiday. With a beautiful beach, hiking and mountain biking trails, and great restaurants and bars in this college town, Marquette makes a great Labor Day weekend getaway. Munising’s Pictured Rocks is just a quick drive away.
  8. Support Good Causes. A portion of the proceeds from the race benefit the Noquemanon Trail Network, which is working to preserve quiet spaces for recreation that include hiking, trail running, horseback riding, mountain biking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. The race also supports the service groups and athletic teams that staff the plentiful aid stations on the course.
  9. It’s Still Small. If you like your races to be intimate affairs, Marquette has you covered. “We still love to be small, but we have a lot of big city comforts,” Osier said. “I think that’s what’s attracting people here.” While the race is growing, she expects participation would likely be capped at 5,000 participants between the marathon, half marathon, 5K and Kids’ Fun Run.
  10. The Local Charm. This close-knit community pulls together to make the race special, Osier said. From the expo swag to finish line treats, local businesses pitch in to make it happen. “We really keep everything local as much as possible to keep our dollars here,” Osier said. Thomsen said the finish line cheering section can’t be beat.    

Runners will lace up for the 7th annual Marquette Marathon on Saturday, Sept. 3. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is the half marathon title sponsor. If you’re not quite ready this year, Osier said marathon hopefuls should find a training program and a group of friends, set a goal and work to achieve it.

“Anybody can do this. Anybody can run,” Osier said.

Check out this video of the marathon race course:

What are your bucket list races? Tell us about where you’d like to compete in the comments. 

Editor’s note: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is a proud sponsor of this event. 

Photo credit: Marquette Photo, used with permission.

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