Three Runners Going For Grandma’s Marathon Streak

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published Jun. 15, 2011

They’ve been taking part in the race since its inception.

A trio of 60-year-olds is going for the ultimate streak this weekend: starting and finishing every Grandma’s Marathon since 1977. That makes 35-straight marathons.

Their names are Joe C. Johnson, John Naslund, and Jim Nowak.

Johnson, 61, is a retired physical education instructor; Naslund, also 61, is a retired stock broker, and Nowak, 60, was once a high school special education teacher.

Naslund owns another impressive streak: He’s run 29 consecutive Twin Cities Marathons.

When Naslund completed the first Grandma’s, he came in fifth overall (2:41:17). Nowak was about an hour behind. He came in 52nd place (3:32:267), while Johnson ended up 56th (3:37:31).

All three men were inducted into the race’s hall of fame in 2002. They say their only interaction is at the pre-race expo. During the race itself, they are just three anonymous faces.

“After 30-some years, a lot of the races start to blend together, but when you realize you’ve been running marathons for more than half your life, it’s pretty amazing,” recalled Naslund. “Grandma’s is by far my favorite race. It has a soul and [executive race director] Scott Keenan makes it feel like everyone is part of a family.”

For More: Duluth News Tribune

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Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin is the news editor at and a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released last July.

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