UPDATE: USA Half-Marathon to Duluth

The most prize money in the history of the USA Half-Marathon Championships will be offered in 2012 and 2013 when the event for men and women comes to Duluth in conjunction with Grandma’s Marathon.

The 13.1-mile championship races, announced Tuesday by USA Track & Field, will have $82,000 in prize money per year, including $12,000 to the winning man and woman. The 2010 Half-Marathon Championships, held in January in Houston, had a total payout of $59,000.

“One of our goals (at Grandma’s Marathon) is to be a host to national events. We don’t want to stand still; we want to showcase our town and our races,” said Grandma’s Marathon executive director Scott Keenan, who submitted a bid for the races six months ago. “We made an aggressive bid for these events.”

The Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon, a Grandma’s Marathon companion race, will be held in 2012 and 2013, but won’t offer prize money those years; the 2010 prize money is $21,500. The race-day schedule will have the USA men’s race at 6:15 a.m., the women’s race at 6:25 a.m. and the Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon at 6:45 a.m.

Entry credentials are 1 hour, 10 minutes or faster for men and 1:19 for women. Approximately 100 runners are expected in each of the elite races.

The USA Half-Marathon Championships for women were held in Duluth in 2003 and 2004. The USA Marathon Championships for women were in Duluth in 1987, 1990 and 1994.

 “Because the half-marathon distance has gained so much in popularity in the United States, this is an important step for us,” said Grandma’s Marathon Inc., vice-chairman Glenn Evavold of Duluth. “We are recognized for putting on well-run races and this will gain us national attention.”

Prize money for the USA Half-Marathon Championships in Duluth will pay the top 12 finishers for men and women, and the top three placers in the 40-and-older division. There will also be incentive money for those running faster than 1:06 for men and faster than 1:15 for women, including $5,000 for an American record. The annual budget for the combined races is $166,000.

The dates for the races are June 16 in 2012 and June 22 in 2013. The course records are 1:04:19 by Ryan Meissen in 2002 for men and 1:10:00 by Colleen De Reuck in 2003 for women.

“National events like this bring new runners to Duluth and that’s the critical element in marketing any town – first getting the visitors here, and then hope they return,” said Visit Duluth president Terry Mattson.

The 2010 Grandma’s Marathon and Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon are on June 19. The sold out 20th Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon has a race-record 6,772 entrants, while the 34th Grandma’s Marathon, with 6,882 runners, will accept entries through June 1. The budget for the combined races is $2.03 million.