Prepping for Feast/Fun at 2012 Grandma's Expo

By KBJR News 1

June 15, 2012 Updated Jun 15, 2012 at 10:52 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Tom Benson, Sous Chef for Grandma's Marathon's annual Spaghetti feast, has been working around the clock since Tuesday, preparing 600 pounds of noodles a day, for what he considers an event as traditional as the race itself.

"The Spaghetti feed has always been an important aspect from the first race, when it was just done as a few people, sitting around, to where it grew to having to figure out bigger and bigger systems, and making it work," said Benson.

...and the figures keep growing every time. This year Benson says chefs will have prepared 1,800 pounds of dry noodles, and 3,600 pounds of sauce, before Friday's feast begins.

"We found out that, laid end to end, we're doing 5.14 marathons of noodles," said Benson.

...that equals over 130 miles of pasta. It's no small work load for any crew, but, according to Benson, there are two practical reasons for the culinary custom.

"...one is, it's easy to do spaghetti for a huge crowd. And, the other is the runners are looking to carbo–load, and get that in their systems so that they have that energy available to them the next day," said Benson.

...and the action doesn't stop outside the kitchen. Downstairs, in the DECC arena, over 100 vendors were kept busy Thursday afternoon, setting up their latest sporting and health products for the over 40,000 people expected to visit the Essentia Health Fitness and Health Expo this year. The goal for vendors: provide marathoners with the most technologically superior product available... even down to the sock.

"Socks are equally as important as shoes, as far as blister prevention goes. You can't have any of that. In comparison to your cotton socks, you actually get a sock that will form to your feet," said Andy Stukel, of Tortoise & Hare Footwear.

But, for marathoners, it's not just about protection. When it comes to product, it's also about what gives you that extra edge.

"These socks actually are 100% cotton–free—mostly polyester—and [they] have what's called 'coolmax,' so it's actually got moisture wicking. And then you also get the spandex through the arch, which will actually give you support," said Stukel.

...paying attention to detail, down to the last thread.