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This year's redesigned Grandma's Marathon includes fewer runners by half, a modified transportation schedule and no spectators.

The June 19 event's 9,500 participants will follow new protocols to meet COVID-19 pandemic safety guidelines, including staggered start times. The marathon was canceled last year for the first time in its 44-year history.

"The runner experience from start to finish is going to be a bit different this year, said race director Greg Haapala in a Tuesday news release outlining the new protocols.

"Participants should board the bus at a different location or time and there won't be the usual mass start. ... Our crowd science models show those are the things that will reduce density throughout the day and promote social distancing."

Masks are required, except when running in the race.

A casualty of the pandemic is the "Rock the Big Top" post-race entertainment. The public still is welcome at a pre-race fitness expo and all-you-can-eat spaghetti meal held at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center as part of the race events. Visitors are limited to 1,500 at a time and must follow one-way traffic patterns and adhere to safety protocols.

Organizers caution plans could change if COVID-19 cases surge.

Jana Hollingsworth • 218-508-2450