Award to Be Renamed After Longtime Volunteer Mac Welles

(DULUTH, MINN.) — Tom Rovinsky has been named the 2023 Mac Welles Award of Excellence recipient, it was announced today by Grandma’s Marathon.

Rovinsky has been involved with the marathon since the early 2000s, serving primarily as one of the lead racecourse water delivery drivers. The 26.2-mile racecourse now features 15 water and aid stations between Duluth and Two Harbors, many of which are in remote areas along the shores of Lake Superior.

Those stations, some serving both full and half marathoners on race day, require water to be delivered rather than relying on nearby water sources as stations in town can. Rovinsky and his team work throughout the day Friday and into the morning hours on Saturday to complete their extensive delivery schedule.

The Award of Excellence now carries the name of longtime Grandma’s Marathon employee and volunteer Mac Welles, who passed away in December 2022.


2022 – Tom Rovinsky

2021 – n/a

2020 – n/a

2019 – Country Hearth Bread

2018 – Jim Kari, Peter Kolar, & David Solon

2017 – Jeff Foster Trucking

2016 – Kathy Bauer

2015 – Upper Lakes Foods

2014 – Gordy Anderson & Mike Persing

2013 – Duane Madison

2012 – Chris & Stephanie LaFleur

2011 – David Bridges

2010 – Spirit Mountain Ski Patrol

2009 – Sue Bussa

2008 – Jeff Frey

2007 – Leah Hulst & Sandy Brennan

2006 – Marian Holmes

2005 – Gert Belsvick

2004 – Dan Russell

2003 – Tom Ehle

2002 – Mike Krois

2001 – Chester Keenan


Grandma’s Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. After seeing just 150 participants that year, the race weekend has now grown into one of the largest in the United States and welcomes more than 20,000 participants for its three-race event each June.

The race got its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma’s Restaurants, the first major sponsor of the marathon. In addition to the 26.2-mile race, the organization has now added the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon and William A. Irvin 5K to its weekend offerings.

As the popularity of Grandma’s Marathon has grown, our mission has stayed the same – to organize, promote, and deliver annual events and programs that cultivate running, educational, social, and charitable opportunities to our communities.

Grandma’s Marathon-Duluth, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization with a nine-person, full-time staff and a 17-member Board of Directors.