Duluth’s Swain Invitational Comes To An End After 70 Years
Swain Invitational has a place in my heart. I ran cross country for Duluth Central High School. My goal was to run Swain as a varsity member.
I trained hard and worked to peak in time to run that race as a varsity member. The race before I figured out what I had to race to become a varsity runner and had members of my team give me updates along the racecourse so I could stay on time. At the end of the race, I had earned 7th man (which is varsity) to run the Swain Invitational meet.
The best part of the story comes at the Swain Invitational. I didn't say much that day and stretched hard, the ground was a little wet, I cleaned my spikes in hopes of running a good race. I ran the hardest race I have ever run, always out of breath, I knew I passed the 6th man, but when I got to the finish line, I was surprised by my cousins who ran for the U of M.
My cousin Randy told me I was the 5th man. That means, not only did I run varsity, but I was a scoring member of varsity. My best race ever on the team. I celebrated by puking on my cousin Randy's shoes. I was crying I was so happy.
According to the Duluth News Tribune, the meet is named in honor of John Swain, cross country coach at Duluth Central High School for 35 years. The first Swain Invitational was held in 1951 and was run by John Swain until he retired in 1963, He attended the invitational until September 1988 when he passed at age 93.
My old coach Kerry Louks (whom I interview at the finish line of Grandma's Marathon every year) says, it is ending because they couldn't find anyone to keep it going. The committee told the Duluth News Tribune they had spent years looking and everyone that organized it has become too old and don't want to do it anymore,
COVID stopped the race from happening last year, so Louks told the DNT they just decided that was it. It's a very sad moment for me to see the race end. It holds a fond place in my life and I will always remember that meet for the rest of my life.