The Twin Cities kick off autumn each year by the running of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. It’s said to be “The Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America.” This year, the 30th Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, will be run at 8 a.m. on Sunday, October 2 with 11,200 marathoners and approximately 300,000 spectators.

First, here are a few CBS Minnesota Insider Tips:

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• Don’t forget to check the road closures due to course crossing and have a map available for finding your way around the detours;
• Make sure to leave yourself enough time to arrive at the Capitol in time to see your marathoner cross the finish line. It can take a while to get to the area due to the many road closures; find a parking lot and/or parking spot; and walk to the finish line area. I speak from experience. Also, be prepared to pay to park in this area, especially if you are running low on time and need to park nearby;
• Check out the Cheer Zones and Entertainment for added fun along the racecourse. Check the site for more information;
• There are a number of events on Saturday leading up to the Marathon, including Medtronic TC Family Events with runs for kids and families, a climbing wall, a Mascot Invitational and games and activities; and
• A 10 Mile race is also run on part of the marathon course with an earlier start time. Information about the 10 Mile course can be found here.

Be Prepared

If you’re planning to be one of those 300,000 spectators, there are a number of things you can count on for sure. There will definitely be thousands of sweating, focused, number-wearing runners, hoards of cheering, bell-ringing, sign holding spectators and a multitude of road closings and detours. What you can’t predict is the weather. Some years have been hot, steamy summer-like days in the 80s and others have been cold and wet, with icy drizzle and temperatures in the 40s. Of course, there are also years the marathon is run on a perfectly beautiful, mild fall day.

Regardless of the weather, the show will go on. So, you must be prepared. If you’re in it for the long haul, meaning you must be seen at various stops from start to finish because a dear one is running the 26.2 miles of autumn loveliness, then you better plan to wear layers that can be shed or added as the cool, dewy morning turns to a hot mid-day or a brisk, overcast morning turns to a cold and rainy afternoon.

Whether you plan to make 1 or 12 stops along the course you will need to have a map of the racecourse. This map can be found online and downloaded or can be picked up in a variety of locations leading up to race day. I have found it very helpful to strategically plot which miles and specific locations I plan to stop, being careful to pick mile markers that are not also Fluid Stations or Medical Aid Stations. Those areas tend to be more crowded. The Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon website offers a list of Top 10 Places to Watch Marathoners, which pretty much coincides with many of my planned stops in the past. Here is their top three:

1. Mile 2 – Corner of Douglas & Hennepin Ave. / Near the Walker Art Center
2. Mile 4 – Lake Calhoun
3. Mile 7 – The Rose Garden at Lake Harriet
I particularly enjoy the race from anywhere on Summit Avenue since the street is wide, it’s easy to see individual runners and there’s plenty of space for spectators. Or watching the race at the Walker Art Center since runners are all still in a big pack and are all surging along, trudging up the hill in front of the Walker and is really the first best place to see the runners.

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Watching with Kids

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If you will be watching with kids in tow be sure to plan stops with open areas for running and playing while cheering on the runners. Areas along Lake Harriet, Minnehaha Creek, Lake Nokomis and Summit Ave. are great for kids. Kids will also enjoy making signs to bring along to cheer for their favorite marathoners. Here are a few other fun ideas on how to involve kids and make the event more exciting: have cow bells for ringing; decorate t-shirts with a marathoner’s name and bib number, etc.; wear funny hats or costumes to make it easier for the runner to spot his or her family or friends; or pick up some free Thunder Sticks and cheer signs at the Health and Wellness Expo at the Saint Paul RiverCentre on Friday, September 30th or Saturday, October 1st.

If you are frantically and strategically following a marathoner, you’re sure to need some nourishment of your own. There are a number of places to stop along the racecourse to refuel. To name a few, Wise Acre Eatery is very near the course at East 54th Street and Nicollet Ave. and offers a window for to-go orders and a deli case inside with grab and go items; for a quick in and out stop, Mel-O-Glaze Donuts is on the race course at 28th Ave. and Minnehaha Parkway; and Davanni’s Pizza and Hot Hoagies with an attached coffee shop, Coffee Bene is located just a few blocks from Summit Ave near the 20 mile mark of the marathon which is perfect timing for a bite of lunch.

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Whether you know someone running it or merely want to encourage and cheer all the runners, the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon is a great place to be on the first Sunday in October.

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Anna Berend is an attorney and the author of Motherly Law Blog. On Motherly Law, Anna writes about legal issues that affect families and offers tips and resources that pertain to those legal topics. On occasion, inspiration strikes and Anna writes about something totally unrelated to the law. You can find Anna at, on Facebook at Motherly Law and on Twitter @MotherlyLaw.