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Another Furo tackles the marathon

Grady and Erik Furo just a few days before Grandma's Marathon. Grady, 12, will be running for the first time with his dad who ran the marathon at the age of 10. (LaReesa Sandretsky)1 / 2
Erik Furo crossing the finish line of Grandma's Marathon in 1983 at age 10. He remains the youngest person to ever have run the marathon. (File photo)2 / 2

Grady Furo, 12, of Knife River has a very clear goal for Grandma's Marathon on Saturday.

"I want to beat my sister," he says with a smile.

Grady's older sister Erika ran the marathon two years ago. She finished in 4:33, a respectable time for any runner and especially impressive for a 13-year-old. This Saturday, Grady will be the third Furo to run Grandma's Marathon as a preteen.

The family tradition started when Erik, Grady and Erika's dad, ran the marathon in 1983. He was just 10 years old and his father, Larry, encouraged him to tackle the race. He still holds the record as the youngest Grandma's Marathon finisher. The age requirement has since been bumped up to 12, so it's a record Erik, now 40, will likely hold forever.

When Grady turned 12 this year, it was time to start training.

"He knew what he was in for," Erik said with a laugh, adding that the marathon is a rite of passage for his kids. His two youngest daughters, Harper, 7, and Reese, 6, will also tackle the marathon when they're old enough. In fact, it seems the only Furo who hasn't caught the running bug is Erik's wife, Dee, 38.

"Sometimes she runs to the car and back," Erik joked.

Grady, who will be entering seventh grade at Two Harbors High School next year, is busy with hockey most of the year, but still made time to train for the marathon, beginning in January. Erik and Grady tackled their first run during a vacation in Arizona and Grady has run at least two times a week since then; his longest distance has been 18 miles. He said his favorite part of running is the endorphin rush afterwards.

"After you run, it feels really good," Grady said.

Training in northeastern Minnesota was tough this year with snow covering area roads and trails well into May, but once the snow melted, Erik and Grady trained on the Superior Hiking Trail, which runs just past their house in Knife River. Grady said he prefers the trail runs.

Though Grady has his sights set on beating Erika's time, Erik, whose personal marathon record is 3:09, is more philosophical about the race. He said the real goal of running marathons with his kids is to teach them perseverance and the benefit of setting and achieving goals, among other life skills.

"We just want to finish strong," Erik said.

After the marathon, Erik, Erika and Grady will gear up for the Mudman, a 5-kilometer race taking place at Spirit Mountain in July. It includes obstacles like an ice-filled pond and trenches of fire--nothing the marathoning Furos can't handle.

"I just want to say that I can do it," Grady said, and after Saturday, it seems likely he can.

LaReesa Sandretsky
LaReesa Sandretsky is a Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native who began working at the News-Chronicle in 2012 as a reporter. She took over as editor in 2014. She covers County Board, including the Lake County broadband project.
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