Garry Bjorklund, a well-known Minnesota distance runner who won the first Grandma’s Marathon in 1977 and again in 1980, pleaded guilty this week to a gross misdemeanor count of drunken driving following a wrong-way collision last summer in Eden Prairie.
Hennepin County District Court Judge Leslie Metzen sentenced Bjorklund, 71, of Fort Collins, Colo., to three years of probation, 40 hours of community service, random substance use testing, a drunken driving assessment, no consumption of alcohol or illicit drugs, and payment of $778 in fines and fees.
Although Bjorklund was charged with two other counts, one for careless driving and the other for having an open bottle of liquor in his vehicle, both of which were dismissed by the judge as part of his plea agreement.
According to the criminal complaint, Bjorklund’s SUV collided with an oncoming vehicle while he was traveling west on the eastbound Pioneer Trail near the Green Acres Event Center at about 6 p.m. on Aug. 8, 2022.
Although Bjorklund initially denied being intoxicated, a preliminary breath test registered his blood alcohol content at 0.26%, more than three times the legal limit for driving in Minnesota. A police officer at the scene observed Bjorklund losing his balance and falling backward onto the roadway, while also detecting the odor of alcohol coming from him. Officers found an open bottle of Bacardi Rum on the front passenger floorboard of Bjorklund’s vehicle after his arrest.
Bjorklund represented the United States in the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, placing 13th in the 10,000-meters. The Duluth native is the namesake of Grandma’s half-marathon. It was created in 1991 to recognize Bjorklund’s lifelong contributions to running.
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