Sunday, November 14, 2010

How to spend a month in Duluth one night

When I announced my plans to run Grandma's Marathon next June, a college friend who happened to hail from Duluth cautioned me about the lodging situation up there. Grandma's draws a high percentage of out-of-town runners, with 10,000 folks descending on a town of just 84,000. As such, accommodations can be sparse -- which means gougingly expensive.

My friend (and others) told me to make arrangements immediately, but I had special needs that required a little extra time to research. Driving around anywhere near the finish line is not happening, and my wife can't be trudging all over the city lugging a toddler around. So, we needed something very close to Canal Park.

But when it came time to look up rates, nothing was available except the downtown Best Western at $190 a night. I made the reservation in a panic, but the less-than-stellar reviews of the place had me convinced I'd need to check back with the other hotels periodically to see if anything opened up.

Then last week, the Mrs. had an epiphany I thought I should share with you because I probably wouldn't have thought of it and there's a reasonable chance you wouldn't, either. Long story short, we're renting someone's condo. We're meeting some friends who are coming into town for the weekend, so splitting the cost makes the condo cheaper than two hotel rooms -- not even taking into account the step up in accommodations.

If it were just us, renting an 8-person condo wouldn't make sense, and perhaps it wouldn't work for you. But if the circumstances are right, whether at Grandma's or some other faraway race, this angle might be a good one. Just something to think about.

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