By Julie Krienke
DELANO, DULUTH, MN Among the 7,400 runners at Grandma’s Marathon this summer, Bill and Luke Fischer could be found motivating and inspiring one another to finish the race.
The marathon took place June 19 in Duluth. However, preparation for 24-year-old Luke Fischer and his father, Bill, began nearly four-and-a- half months before the competition.
“It started out by Luke doing the Twin Cities Marathon last fall,” Bill said. “I knew he was going to do another marathon, and I was quite inspired by watching him and the others run.”
After that, Bill knew Luke was going to ask him to participate in a marathon with him.
“He kept with me, saying we were going to do a marathon after that,” Bill said. “The day that we could first register, I thought ‘why not?’”
According to Luke, it took quite some time before he finally convinced his father to participate in the marathon.
“At first, I had to kind of drag him out there,” Luke joked. “He kept saying ‘no,’ and then one day, he just sent me his confirmation email. It was probably the best email I have gotten.”
After paying the entrance fee and completing the paperwork in January, the Fischers began to train for the marathon.
“Luke got us on a training schedule, and we trained for four-and-a-half months,” Bill said.
According to the Fischers, a gradual increase in mileage each week prepared them for the day of the marathon.
“There was no shortcut to the training,” Bill said. “I felt we were well-prepared for the marathon because of the training. I didn’t realize the time that was involved in the training program of it.”
After months of preparation and training for the marathon, the father and son felt more than ready for the run.
“I was excited for the run,” Bill said. “I wasn’t worried about it at all because I knew we were prepared. It was a lot of fun.”
Due to the extensive training that the Fischers completed over the past months, the marathon was the last piece of the puzzle.
“Because we did the training program together, it was a good way to cap off the four-and-a-half months,” Luke said. “It proved that we could do it.”
For the pair of runners, marathons can present not only physical challenges, but also mental ones. According to Luke, the challenge is to stay focused on running.
“I just hoped to finish, but for me, it’s kind of a mental challenge to see if I can stay focused,” Luke said. “There wouldn’t be a mind game if you didn’t have a goal. It’s all about reaching your goal.”
However, the Fischers knew that the mental challenge could affect their performance. “The mind game has a say in your day,” Luke added.
Grandma’s Marathon was the first race Bill has participated in and, as a result, he learned a great deal about the mental aspect of running.
“The mental challenge part of it takes you to a different level,” Bill said. “The motivation is to keep you going. It’s a challenge each time you go out.”
There is no doubt that the Fischers were full of ambition on the day of the marathon.
“The goal that I set for myself, and trying to reach it, is a lot of fun,” Luke said. “You set goals for yourself, and you try to achieve times.”
The pair of runners took a bus to Two Harbors, where they prepared for the race at the starting line.
“Mentally, I just get on the bus, and I didn’t really think about it until we got there and saw the starting line,” Luke said.
According to Luke, two jets flew through the sky at the end of the national anthem. A train also takes off as soon as the race starts.
“It was a beautiful run along the lake,” Bill said. “Coming into town, you could see the Lift Bridge from a long ways away. It was a beautiful run, as far as the scenery part.”
The Fischers could not have hoped for a better turnout on the day of the marathon.
“The weather was great, and it was a nice course,” Luke said. “It was great when we came into Duluth, and you started to see people on the streets. I loved coming into Canal Park at the end.”
The weather for the marathon this year may have helped runners complete the race.
“The weather was really cool this year,” Luke said. “That made a huge difference.”
To prepare for the marathon, the Fischers ate pasta the week before the race.
Grandma’s Marathon also provides ways for runners to replenish their energy throughout the long run. According to Bill, they have Gatorade and water stops every three to four miles.
“Between the staff and volunteers, it’s unreal how many people it takes to run a marathon,” Bill said. “The volunteers of the marathon deserve a lot of credit.”
According to the father-and-son duo, running together has helped them complete their goals.
“For me, the best part of the marathon was that I hit the wall way before he did, and he just dragged me along on race day,” Luke said. “It was good to have him there and go through it together.”
The Fischers clearly enjoyed the time that they spent together both training and running in the marathon. The winner of the race was Philemon Kemboi, who finished with a time of 2:15:44.
Bill finished in 4:27:54, and Luke finished in 4:27:55.
“We were 3,021 and 3,022,” Luke said. “The average finish time was 4:26:05.”
“He kept me moving lots,” Bill said of his son. “If it wasn’t on marathon day, a lot of the days we were training he’d say, ‘Come on. Let’s go.’ We trained together well, and I enjoyed it.”
Although Bill and Luke took it easy the days before the run, they took time to enjoy the beautiful city of Duluth.
“After the marathon, they have kind of a party with bands that play,” Luke said. “The night before, we went out to eat together at Pizza Luce in downtown Duluth.”
Aside from running, the two individuals are rather busy with work. Luke works for the City of Delano as an assistant to the city administrator, and Bill is a heavy truck salesman for Boyer Trucks.
Bill and his wife, Tammy, moved to Delano when Luke was just a baby. They also have another son, Matthew, who is 22. The couple currently resides in Delano.
The weekend of Grandma’s Marathon marked Bill and Tammy’s 29-year anniversary.
“The day after the marathon was our anniversary, so we spent extra days in Duluth,” Bill said.
Luke presently lives in St. Louis Park. He attended St. John’s University, and now he spends most of his spare time attending graduate school through a nighttime program at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
In addition, Luke is also spending time preparing for his wedding in September.
Running began about two years ago for Luke.
“I just needed something to do as a hobby,” Luke said. “I needed to get outside, and running was a good opportunity to stay active.”
Looking toward the future, the Fischers are excited to continue running together.
“We still run together during the week and in the metro area,” Bill said. “Now, 13 miles is like nothing, in comparison.”
The father and son will participate in the 26th annual 5K run at Delano’s very own Fourth of July Celebration.
For now, running is all about the personal achievements for the Fischers.
“You are just competing against yourself and your pace the whole way,” Luke said.