Two Harbors, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - "The race starts here, the trailheads start here, the kayaking starts here. Everything that you want to do in this Northland—North Shore—you're in Two Harbors, and then off you go. It all starts here," says Jan Bergman, owner of the Vanilla Bean Café,
Bergman compares marathon weekend to opening night: "For my staff, I tell them Memorial Day weekend is dress rehearsal, Grandma's weekend is opening night performance. It's our chance to really get used to the summer rhythm."
But, like any small town, marathoners and tourists can't seem to shake that close–to–home feeling.
"There are a lot of people who run the marathon [that] have been coming for many years. They come back, so it's like greeting family, 'how did you do this year?' We call them our runners when they come limping in on Sunday morning for breakfast," said Bergman.
"I ran it back in 1985. [It] was my first time that I ran the race. Beautiful, beautiful scenery—the whole ambiance of being up here the night before, the spaghetti dinner, and you get all these people," said former marathoner, Robert "Jack" Jacobson, while enjoying his coffee.
In fact, Two Harbor–ites seem to have a lot they like to boast about to marathoners, one feature being the similarities between the "finish–line city," and the town where it all begins.
"We have a harbor that you can actually get to, and watch boats being loaded. You can walk out onto our beak–wall, and be closer to the ore docks. We've got great gift shops, nice places to eat and stroll. You can be down by the water. Art galleries, gift shops, places to get a treat...," says Bergman.
But, in the end, it may be what Two Harbors doesn't have that's the most appealing.
"...everything you can do in Duluth, but without the crowds. Friday night, restaurants will be having marathon specials. You don't have to fight parking, you don't have to fight traffic," says Bergman.
...features that keep marathoners, tourists, and Northlander's alike coming back, long after the last racer crosses the finish line.
On Thursday, Two Harbors will host its annual band shell concert night, in Town Square, in celebration of the upcoming weekend.