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Posted: January 16, 2013  

Athletics: Upper Midwest Endurance Challenge to Test Runners, Skiers

Grandma's, Twin Cities In Motion and the Birkie Partner for Race Series

Marathon runners and cross country skiers now have a new way to enjoy their sports. The Upper Midwest Endurance Challenge -- a new running and skiing race series -- will test their mettle in the region's premier marathons as well as in the country's largest cross country ski race.

The Upper Midwest Endurance Challenge (UMEC) will offer participants in this year's Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the 2014 American Birkebeiner, which races from Cable to Hayward, Wisc., the chance to compete against one another in an event series that spans the seasons.

Registration for the series opens online today. For the $30 UMEC entry fee, (plus registration fees for the individual events) runners and skiers can compete for the honor of earning a Brooks® UMEC finishers' jacket as well as open and age-group awards and prizes. All UMEC participants will receive a free pair of running socks from FITSOK®.

Additionally, one UMEC participant chosen at random will earn free entries into the 2014 Grandma's Marathon or Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, the 2014 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon or Medtronic TC 10 Mile, and the 2015 American Birkebeiner or Kortelopet.

The Upper Midwest Endurance Challenge is a partnership between event organizers Grandma's Marathon, Inc., Twin Cities In Motion, and the American Birkebeiner. This year's Grandma's Marathon takes place on Saturday, June 22. The 2013 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon is set for Sunday, October 6, while the 2014 American Birkebeiner is scheduled for Saturday, February 22.

"The Upper Midwest Endurance Challenge is a natural partnership among three great endurance events in the region," Grandma's Marathon Executive Director Scott Keenan said. "We share a common purpose and similar histories, so it was only natural to team up for the Upper Midwest Endurance Challenge."

All three UMEC events have deep roots and long histories in the region. The American Birkebeiner was first contested in 1973. Grandma's Marathon was established in 1977, followed shortly thereafter by the Twin Cities Marathon in 1982.

"We wanted to offer an opportunity for marathon runners and long-distance skiers to differentiate themselves and highlight their achievements," American Birkebeiner Executive Director Ned Zuelsdorff said. "It's a special breed that runs 26.2 miles and skis 50-kilometers or more, so we're glad to recognize them."

Series organizers also hope the Challenge resonates with athletes with more modest aspirations.

"Endurance exercise is great for living a healthy lifestyle," Twin Cities In Motion Executive Director Virginia Brophy Achman said. "We think the Upper Midwest Endurance Challenge will highlight some of the most popular ways people in our region stay fit. No matter the season, there's a way to stay active and stay healthy."

Details on the race series can be found at RunRunSki.org.


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