Each fall, athletes from around the globe converge on the campus of St. Cloud State University to compete in feats of strength, speed, agility and endurance at the Granite Games. If you live anywhere near the vicinity of St. Cloud, you’ve likely noticed the sudden uptick in fit folk roaming the city in Reebok Nanos and t-shirts proudly emblazoned with the name of their hometown CrossFit gyms. They’re hard to miss!
Upwards of 1,000 athletes from an impressive 10 countries attend the Granite Games each year, making it one of the largest fitness competitions on the planet. The number has grown each year since the competition’s inception in 2013, ballooning to 3,000+ in 2018 with the addition of the Granite Games Run, a community-centric fun run offering local running enthusiasts a 5k, half marathon or half marathon relay along the beautiful Mississippi River and Beaver Island Trail. (Register to run here!)
The concept of the Granite Games grew out of a small, informal throwdown at a local area gym, Fast Factory Fitness. St. Cloud native and founder, John Swanson, wanted his members to experience the thrill of competition and truly feel like athletes, as many of them had never played organized sports. He debuted the Cloudytown Throwdown in 2011 to a small group of 40 athletes and it more than doubled in size in its second year to 90. It didn’t take long for John to realize providing a world-class competition experience was something he wanted to offer on a much larger scale, and from this small, grassroots competition, the Granite Games was born. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Since 2013, athletes from all corners of the globe have made the trek to St. Cloud, MN for a multi-day event testing just how well-rounded their fitness is through various challenges featuring barbells, gymnastics and cardiovascular conditioning.
Over the years, the divisions and capacity of the event have grown, and the Granite Games now features everything from Professional-level individual and team competitors to Masters (age brackets from 35 – 55+). Other divisions include Teens, multiple levels of Teams of 3 (same gender) and Teams of 4 (Co-Ed), for a total of 9 distinct divisions in 2018.
Beyond feats of fitness, athletes and spectators are treated to a diverse vendor village, featuring everything from fitness gear to apparel to nutrition and supplements. Activities and food are onsite all weekend (it takes a lot to feed thousands of fit people!) and the festival atmosphere offers something for everyone in the family.
New in 2018, the Granite Games Fitness Conference will offer volunteers, athletes and spectators the opportunity to listen to and share ideas with some of the leaders in the fitness industry via roundtable conversations, in addition to a keynote speech from Jason Khalipa, the 2009 CrossFit Games Fittest Man on Earth as well as dedicated family man and successful businessman and coach. Tickets for the fitness conference can be obtained here. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.
The Granite Games and its recognizability as a global brand continue to evolve and grow, and the event has placed St. Cloud firmly on the map in the fitness world. Visitors whose paths would have never otherwise brought them to Central Minnesota leave raving about the beauty and hospitality of our community, city and region—and of course the people! We’re very proud to lay claim to this great event!
WANT IN ON THE ACTION?
Although the qualifying time period to participate in the fitness competition portion of the Granite Games has passed, there are multiples ways to get involved in this year’s event happening Thursday, Sept. 6 – Sunday, Sept. 9.
- RUN, RUN, RUN. Whether you’re a 5k kind of person or enjoy the challenge of distance, you’re going to love this year’s scenic course along the Mississippi River and Beaver Island Trail. And on a perfectly cool September morning? You can’t go wrong. Click here to register. Entry includes a free tee!
- ATTEND THE FITNESS CONFERENCE. Here’s your opportunity to listen to and share ideas with some of the leaders in the fitness industry via roundtable conversations, as well as a keynote speech from Jason Khalipa, the 2009 CrossFit Games Fittest Man on Earth. The fitness conference is open to all who obtain an event pass, otherwise, a conference-specific pass can be purchased as a lesser rate. Click here for tickets.
- VOLUNTEER. If staying behind the scenes is more your thing, the Granite Games staff would love to have you onboard one of their volunteer event production committees. From water stations to swag booths to medical tents, there’s a spot for you. Register here.
- SPECTATE: Cheerleaders are welcomed and encouraged! One-day, two-day, three-day or VIP tickets to the event can be purchased here. Plus, you’ll get access to the fitness conference with your admission.
What: Granite Games
When: Thursday, Sept. 6 – Sunday, Sept. 9
Where: St. Cloud State University
Overview of Events:
Thurs., Sept 6 – Event kickoff and fitness conference
Fri., Sept 7 – First day of Granite Games fitness competition
Sat., Sept 8 – Granite Games Run (5k, 1/2 marathon, 1/2 marathon relay) beginning at 8 am; Fitness events all day
Sun., Sept 9 – Final day of Granite Games fitness competition; followed by an after party at the Red Carpet in Downtown St. Cloud.
Learn more at: thegranitegames.com