Brian Larsen was then-executive director Scott Keenan’s right-hand man for the first-ever Grandma’s Marathon in 1977, and this year on race weekend Keenan will be presenting his longtime assistant and confidant with the 2021 Founder’s Award.
An avid runner and member of the North Shore Striders, Larsen was the assistant race director for that first-ever race. Over the years he has been tasked with almost every job imaginable in planning and putting on Grandma’s Marathon, from working on the course and at the finish line to helping with race packet pick-up.
Though his involvement slowed down after he married and moved away, Larsen’s time and commitment to the race is recognized as vital to its continued growth and success.
“For me, it’s been a pleasure to see how the race has become part of the fabric of Duluth and the surrounding area,” Larsen said. “Coming back every year is like coming back to family and friends, and this area will always be a place that I love to be.”
Larsen was inducted into the Grandma’s Marathon Hall of Fame in 2001, and this year will become the fifth person to receive the Founder’s Award. Created in 2016, this award is now presented annually by Keenan as a way of honoring those who have embodied the history, vision, and spirit of Grandma’s Marathon.
To his longtime friend, who invited him to help more than four decades ago, Larsen now has a simple message.
“Thanks for including me in your crazy dream,” he said, “to start a marathon in Duluth.”
Larsen now lives in Grand Marais, Minn. and works as the publisher and editor of the Cook County News Herald.
The 2021 Founder’s Award will be presented at the 2021 ASICS VIP Reception, which will be held on Saturday, June 19 at 6:00 p.m. in the Harborside Ballroom at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center (DECC).