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  • Writer's pictureMichael Dunlap

Grandma's Marathon 1982 - Will Beards set a new world record?

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

After Beard's historic 2:08:53 marathon in Boston on April 19th, the thought was for him to go back to Grandma's marathon in Duluth, MN where he ran 2:09:37 the year before and break the world record (Alberto Salazar's 2:08:13). The race director even recruited a "pacer" to pace Beards for the first 13 miles to set him up for the record. The weather had a different idea. Duluth in June can be cool but occasionally it can be warm. Being a predominantly north to south route along Lake Superior, a tail wind can push runners toward the finish or provide a headwind to add more work. Guess what 1982 weather was? Beards still rose to the occasion to take another win.

UPI ARCHIVES JUNE 19, 1982 Dick Beardsley won the sixth annual Grandma's Marathon Saturday...

DULUTH, Minn. -- Dick Beardsley won the sixth annual Grandma's Marathon Saturday although wind and humidity prevented him from trying for a world-record time. Beardsley, 26, Rush City, Minn.,covered the 26-mile 385-yard course in 2:14:48, more than five minutes slower than his winning time last year. Jan Ettle, 23, St. Cloud, Minn., who collapsed after the race, was the top woman finisher in 2:41:20.

All pre-race talk of a world record for Beardsley, the heavy favorite, faded as a head wind and muggy weather hit him throughout the race. He pulled away from several runners at the three-mile mark, and enjoyed a lead of several hundred yards for most of the race.

Matt Wilson, 24, Fairfax, Va., was the second-place finisher in 2:16:10. Phil Coppess, 27, Clinton, Iowa., was third at 2:16:20.

'I didn't have many problems until I got a pebble in my shoe near the end,' Beardsley said. 'I think I have a little hole in my foot now.'

Beardsley said the wind was the biggest factor in his relatively slow time.

'And, I had nobody really to run against,' he said. 'When somebody is running with you, you don't hurt so bad. Today I hurt bad.'

Beardsley was the only world-class runner in the race. He placed second in this year's Boston Marathon to Alberto Salazar, who owns the world record of 2:08:13. Beardsley ran 2:08:53 in Boston.

Saturday, Beardsley broke away from the record field of 6,000 with opening miles of 4:48 and 4:46, then settled into 5:05 miles the rest of the way.

Thousands of people lined old Highway 61 from Two Harbors, where the race started, to Duluth, where the runners finished at Canal Park.

'After eight or nine miles, I wasn't concerned with my time,' Beardsley said. 'I knew I wouldn't set any records. I just thought 'My lord, just get me to the finish line.''

Beards looks pretty happy to see the finish line.

After Beard's 2:09:37 at Grandma's in 1981 and his Boston 2:08:53, pretty much all the marathoners in Minnesota and surrounding states wanted in on the action. The top 25 finishers is a "who's who" of Midwest running. Unfortunately, I doubt a single PR was accomplished by anyone in that group, due to the hot/headwind day. Beards guessed the conditions cost him 4-5 minutes which would have given him another 2:09-2:10 marathon. It definitely was a tough day. It really turned into a "death march" as everyone had to gauge the heat/headwind and how much effort was too much. Many of the top runners tried to run for time, but faded badly in the end.

Dun was one of the Midwest runners that was looking for a personal best on the traditionally fast Grandma's course. The painters cap that Beards made famous was becoming a thing to wear on a warm/hot day.

I had a nice chat with a volunteer aid worker at the finish line as I made my way through. I looked like I might need aid and he wasn't going to let me out of his sight! I remember telling him "I'm Ok" and he wasn't so sure. The Brooks painters cap will lead to something significant for me in the next few weeks.

Beards and Dun waiting for the 1982 Grandma's Marathon awards ceremony. They both look pretty happy.

Like "George Washington slept here" - Dick Beardsley Ran Here!!!

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