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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Ely Marathon builds on first-year success

Keith Vandervort
Posted 9/15/16

ELY – Registrations for the second annual Ely Marathon and Boundary Waters Bank Half Marathon continue to exceed expectations and year two promises to be even more popular than the inaugural …

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Ely Marathon builds on first-year success


ELY – Registrations for the second annual Ely Marathon and Boundary Waters Bank Half Marathon continue to exceed expectations and year two promises to be even more popular than the inaugural event.

“We are ahead of last year,” said organizer Wendy Lindsay. In 2015, 600 racers participated in the two main running events, and this year registrations are heading north of 800, she said.

The Ely Marathon is a 26.2 mile race from Camp DuNord to Whiteside Park in Ely on Saturday, Sept. 24. The Boundary Waters Bank Half Marathon will be run the same day.

In addition, a new activity added this year is the Children’s Marathon. Approximately 75 youth from Ely and Tower elementary schools have signed up for the special run. “The youth are working with their teachers to accumulate a total of 25 miles prior to the marathon,” said Cherie Sonsalla Ely Chamber of Commerce Executive Director. “On race day they will run the final 1.2 miles on the actual race route. Those who finish will receive an Ely marathon medal and finishers shirt.”

The Children’s Marathon will begin in front of WildWoods Land Company on Sheridan Street at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24. “Come on out to cheer for the youth and all of the racers,” Sonsalla said.

Northern Lights Clubhouse will again host the 5K Run on Friday, Sept. 23. This year NLC will add a fun, new twist - glow zones. Participants are encouraged to wear their own glow wear or for a package upgrade they can purchase event glow wear, Sonsalla said. The race begins at 6:15 p.m. at Vermilion Community College. To register for the event, visit Or sign-up the day of the event from 2-5:45 p.m.

That is not all that is happening during the weekend. Racers usually bring one or two supporters with them who look for things to do while they wait for their runner. “Ely merchants will host the fourth annual Chocoholic Frolic – a fun event in which our visitors will receive a chocolate treat and great specials at each participating location,” she said.

“You can also meet and mingle with mayors from Minnesota and surrounding states at the first ever Mayor-A-Thon,” she said. “Ely Mayor Chuck Novak is hosting this new event which is more about socializing than running.”

GB Leighton

Festivities will be held all day in Whiteside Park and continue into the evening. GB Leighton will provide musical entertainment beginning at 6 p.m. This concert is free and is sponsored in part by the Ely DQ Grill & Chill.

With more than 200 shows a year, fans follow him from Minnesota to Mexico. Leighton has sold more than 70,000 albums. He has a new release “Get Up” and a state-of-the-art nightclub named after one of his songs — all without the support of a major record label.

Leighton and his six-piece band have been tearing up rock clubs, festivals and even a few fans’ living rooms with a slew of songs that connect with the heart and couples singing along out on the dance floor. “A man of the people” is a phrase usually reserved for statesmen and politicians, but for Leighton, it’s a fitting description when you see him in action working a crowd.

“At the end of the day, I’m just a common guy, a working class kid from a Twin Cities suburb who loves to put on a good show and hopefully write some good songs in between,” Leighton said.

Race details

Here are a few details regarding the routes and times for the Saturday races:

-Marathon and Half Marathon will be in effect from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24.

-The marathon starts at 7:30 a.m. at Camp du Nord on the North Arm Road. North Arm Road will be one lane of traffic from 7:30 a.m. until approximately 12 p.m. All cars are to stay on the east lane. Runners will be on the west lane.

-A pilot car will run from the intersection of North Arm Road and Echo Trail to Old Winton Road. Vehicles will be held at both ends until the pilot car arrives to lead them to the other side.

-The Half Marathon will start at Echo Shores Resort at 8 a.m. Traffic will be held at each end (North Arm Road intersection and Passi Road) from 7:50 a.m. to 8:05 a.m. to allow racers to line up and then thin out after the start gun.

-The Cedar Lake Road, Cloquet Line, Old Winton Road, within the city of Winton, Pioneer Road, Miners Drive and 17th Ave. will be operating on one lane of traffic, with the runners on west lanes, and traffic on east lanes and shoulders of the road, beginning at 8:30 a.m. and lasting until approximately 2 p.m.

-Expect delays at intersections. Road crews will stop traffic to allow runners to cross.

-For the safety of the runners, please minimize travel on the route during the race.

-East Camp Street from 17th Ave.-15th Ave. as well as Sheridan St. from 15th Ave.-2nd Ave. and Chapman St. from 2nd Ave. to 7th Ave. will be closed from 8:30 a.m. until approximately 2:30 p.m. A detour will run down Harvey St. The alleyways behind businesses on these streets will also be open.

Volunteers needed

Volunteers for the Ely Marathon are still needed for both days. Lindsay said she has many opportunities available for a variety of volunteers including:

-Volunteer Coordinator;

-Water Stop Coordinator;

-Packet Pick-up (Friday noon to 10 p.m.);

-Pre-race set up (Friday);

-Bus Transportation (getting runners on the buses);

-Spectator Participation (handing out cow bells etc);

-Route Logistics (Setting up signs/cones etc. We will meet soon to solidify routes, needs, changes etc);

-Start Lines (setting up and helping folks out);

-Time Chip help at finish line;

-Road Crew (located at intersections etc);

-Finish Line (bag pickup, merchandise sales, food for runners etc).

For more information on volunteer opportunities, contact Lindsay at Stone Soup Events, The Pebble Spa Co. or email her at, or call 218-206-4702.


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