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Storm Creek x Grandma’s Marathon: A Sustainable Partnership

Storm Creek x Grandma’s Marathon: A Sustainable Partnership

Grandma's Marathon and Storm Creek have joined forces in a powerful collaboration that goes beyond racing excellence. This partnership is a testament to our shared commitment to the health of people, communities, and our planet.


Grandma’s Marathon: A Journey in Sustainability

Marathons are notorious for creating lots of waste. Think about all those single-use plastics, paper cups, and leftover gear. But Grandma’s Marathon has set high sustainability standards for themselves and the event industry.

Grandma's Marathon's dedication to sustainability spans over several years, marked by continuous efforts to reduce waste and minimize their environmental impact.

“We know people love coming to our race for the beauty of Northern Minnesota. We want to keep it beautiful for everyone,” says Alivia Nelson, Grandma’s Marathon Program Director.

They started small with basic recycling efforts and have since evolved to encompass waste reduction, carbon emissions, and water conservation. "We’re fortunate that some of our existing operations have always contributed to our sustainability goals," Nelson adds. For instance, requiring runners to take buses to the starting line has helped avoid over 300,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually during Grandma’s Marathon weekend.


A Bottle to Better Story of Their Own

Let's talk about the unsung hero at marathons: water and aid stations. Traditionally, these pit stops have been notorious for churning out mountains of single-use plastic or Styrofoam cups, contributing to the already hefty waste load of these events. Grandma’s Marathon, however, has been charting a different course. 

Instead of adding to the plastic pile, Grandma’s Marathon skips the single-use plastics at aid stations and the finish chute, and instead source their water from fire hydrants or water trucks. Doing this helps them save an estimated 148,000 single-use plastics annually. Now this is an organization after our own heart!

But what about those 26.2 miles of racecourse water stations?

"In an average year, we use about 400,000 cups for water and Powerade," notes Nelson.

That’s a staggering amount of waste that Grandma’s Marathon is determined to tackle head-on.

Grandma’s Marathon began reevaluating their procurement policies to ensure that what they bring in can be composted or recycled. Enter compostable cups—a game-changer in their sustainability efforts.

“In 2021, we teamed up with Hiccup, a reusable cup partner, to cut down waste on our racecourse,” Nelson shares. And in 2024, they’re taking it up a notch by renting 50,000 cups from Hiccup for Mile 9 and Mile 25 water stations.

With partnerships like Hiccup and Coca Cola, Grandma’s Marathon is on a mission to make all their cups compostable or reusable by 2025, eliminating 90% of the waste on their racecourse.


How Storm Creek Has Helped Grandma's Reach New Sustainability Goals

"In 2022, we kicked off our partnership with Storm Creek, and it’s been a game-changer for our sustainability mission,” says Nelson. Together, we’ve upcycled thousands of bottles (nearly 170,000 of them!) and kept them from ending up in landfills.

Storm Creek has been outfitting some of your Grandma’s gear for the past 2 years. And now you can find Storm Creek in their first-ever Grandma's Marathon Online Store.

She adds, “Working with Storm Creek has been fantastic. They’re a local Minnesota company that shares our passion for sustainability and delivers top-notch products for our participants. Their focus on recycling plastic bottles aligns perfectly with our waste reduction goals and closes the loop. It's great to see a vendor taking the lead in sustainability, and we’re thrilled to be part of that journey."


Other Sustainable Milestones

Their sustainability efforts go beyond race weekend, demonstrating a big-picture approach to environmental stewardship. 

  • In 2018 they began partnering with Goodwill to collect discarded clothing at the starting lines. In 2024 alone they collected over 4 tons of clothing to be resold or recycled. 
  • 2019 saw the introduction of Green Stations at the finish line, making waste sorting a breeze post-race.
  • They signed onto the United Nations Sports for Climate ActionAgreement, pledging a 50% cut in emissions by 2030 from their 2019 levels.
  • They installed solar panels to their Duluth office. 
  • They are certified by the Council for Responsible Sportat the Gold Level for their sustainability efforts.
  • They offer carbon offsets during the registration for runners to offset their travel to and from Duluth.


What People Can Expect at This Year's Race

Participants and spectators can anticipate a range of sustainability-focused initiatives at this year's Grandma's Marathon event. In addition to the compostable and reusable water cups, there will also be:

  • A new partnership with TerraCycle for recycling performance nutrition packets (gels like Anderson’s Maple Syrup, Gu, Clif Shot, etc.). Keep your eye out for the PURPLE bins at all of the water stations and the Sustainability Expo Booth to put any gel packets in.
  • Participants can ride the DTA for FREE on race day by showing their official race bib. The DTA’s downtown transit center is less than 1 mile from the finish line!
  • Bike valet will be available on Friday and Saturday of race weekend to help promote eco-friendly commuting.
  • Green Stations will be set up at the finish line and throughout other areas during race weekend with designated “Green Team” members to assist you in placing your waste in proper containers.
  • Heat sheet collection at the finish line – look for designated bins to ensure your heat sheet gets properly recycled.


Partnering with like-minded organizations like Grandma’s Marathon that share our values has been incredibly rewarding. We look forward to seeing their ongoing contributions to the event industry where they are constantly Seeking Better.


We can’t wait for another weekend in Duluth with Grandma’s Marathon! Join us the weekend of June 22, 2024. You can find us at the Expo and supporting runners all weekend long.


If you’re a runner who missed the sign-up deadline before the race SOLD OUT, don’t worry. Storm Creek will be hosting an Everyday Eco Festival at our Eagan, MN HQ on April 19th and will be giving away one FREE entry to Grandma’s Half Marathon race. 

Learn more here.


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