Snowshoeing Tuneup: Race The Lake Minnetonka Running Series, Excelsior, MN

Three beautiful Excelsior road races in 2020 constitute the Lake Minnetonka Running Series. You can use their 5K format (one event has an optional 10K) to push that speed workout. So, give yourself an objective, set the event dates aside, and enjoy the fun racing crowd while training. Start your new decade with a winning initiative and you’re sure to have a rousing good time.

Lake Minnetonka running series 2020 mug

There’s only ONE way to get this beautiful Lake Minnetonka Running Series 2020 collector’s stein: Enter and finish the three qualifying Excelsior events. Easy!

Furthermore, win a distinctive award: the world’s most beautiful mug (okay, in the Top Ten) designed just for the series. Those earning this mug enjoy new features this year, with plans that include a presentation tent and award ceremony to recognize this accomplishment. So bring along friends and family and carry a big smile for those photo opportunities! Then, take your collector’s edition mug and go fill it up!

Lake Minnetonka Racing Series Events

Sign up for one or all three of the races in 2020, celebrating spring, summer, and fall!

Bridgewater Bank's Luck of the Lake 5K

The best place to be for a St Patrick’s Day celebration: Bridgewater Bank’s Luck of the Lake 5K


Toe the start line with Bridgewater Bank’s Luck O’ the Lake 5K on Saturday, March 14.  First, stop in at Excelsior Brewing Company for registration and the distinctive souvenir glass. There are lots of places to use it after the race as the festive day continues in charming downtown Excelsior.

Many racers continue the good times wearing their exclusive long-sleeve race shirt, the coolest out there, with their event number, still attached. The town jams with music, displays, and an all-day heated Tent Party. One’s favorite beverages pour everywhere, including Kowalski’s complimentary bottled water and bananas, to refresh and rehydrate after the competition.

Onstage magic performances keep the attention of young celebrants. Go ahead, spend the day here. Note, an accompanying one-mile race, though not part of the series, might be your preferred distance. Enter it and have fun.

racers at Lake Minnetonka St Patty's 5K after the race

A finish means you’re in the hunt for a 2020 Lake Minnetonka Running Series award! (All Luck O’ the Lake photos courtesy Emily John Photography)


One of the venerable races in Minnesota, the Excelsior Firecracker, celebrates four-and-a-half decades of competition in 2020. Additionally, the Firecracker kicks off Fourth of July, on a Saturday this year, with a rousing sendoff, promising plenty of time to celebrate the U.S’s birthday. Either the 5K or 10K distance qualifies for the running series. Plus, the 1-mile offers a separate challenge for the fleet-a-foot.

The large Excelsior Elementary building hosts entrants and guests with swag, real bargains, and souvenirs along with race information and registration. Find plentiful parking on school grounds and off-site. A live drum corp spices up the Firecracker’s route and one’s enthusiasm as you take in stellar views of historic downtown Excelsior. You can dream you’re swimming in the refreshing Lake Minnetonka.

Then, the race finishes in Excelsior Commons Park, which will continue to stir your patriotic emotions. The flag-waving crowd cheers your charge to the finish through the massive ALARC columns and finishing lanes. Go ahead, give ’em a fist-pump!

racers and spectators at 4th of July- Minnetonka running series

Fun on the Fourth of July

Meanwhile, a unique finisher’s medal hangs from your neck while entering a festive wonderland for all sorts of happiness and joy. Nothing like a postrace ride on a Ferris wheel helping you recover. Then, overlooking the charms of the crowd and yachting on Lake Minnetonka, note the sailboats tacking to windward. What a great scene in America!

Celebrate the holiday right where you’re at in downtown, which features a book of choices for activities, shops, and eats. After taking in refreshing beverages and meals at Maynards Restaurant and Excelsior Brewing Company during the day, make sure to schedule time at the Excelsior Commons. One of the grandest fireworks displays in the state culminates the holiday.

family after racing 4th of July at Minnetonka Racing Series

So much to do in Excelsior on the Fourth of July (All Excelsior Firecracker photographs courtesy Minnetonka Community Ed)


The big finale of the Lake Minnetonka Running Series, Park Nicollet’s 8th annual Apple of the Lake 5K, races on a crisp Saturday, September 19. Then, you’ll be ushering in the Autumnal Equinox just 72 hours later.

Let the fall season unfold with the event’s eighth-year as the route turns down Excelsior’s famous Water Street, one of the state’s tops. As you return, the racecourse peels off near Maynard’s and provides a unique finish on the Lake Minnetonka LRT Regional Trail. Finally, push to the finish line where music and fans welcome you to one of the most beautiful times of the year.

logo for Lake Minnetonka Running Series

The fifth annual one-mile race precedes the 5k and also covers the LRT Trail. Kids get to run their distance, too.

Smile big for those photos that friends and family will snap as series finishers receive their Lake Minnetonka Running Series 2020 collector’s mug at a special tent close to the finish. Then celebrate at the annual Apple Day Festival throughout downtown Excelsior, a Fall Festival for couples and families alike. Finally, fill up your mug with plenty of apple cider. That is cider in there, right?

Racers at Lake Minnetonka Apple Day 5K

The final race of the Lake Minnetonka Running Series: Park Nicollet Apple Day 5K.

Don’t Miss The Lake Minnetonka Running Series

Each of the three contests creates a unique racecourse while sharing some of the most scenic roadways. Additionally, Minnetonka Lake backdrops make one feel refreshed and at home. Three different starts, three different finishes and three distinct challenges to earning your finish make a terrific and easy-to-get-to race destination. Furthermore, you receive the hero bonus of becoming a series honoree.

What do you do to win a finisher’s award for the 2020 Lake Minnetonka Running Series? Finish all three events in (generous) regulation time. Oh, and register for the competitions. Go HERE for that step if you haven’t yet registered for the races.

medal presentation Lake Minnetonka Apple Day 5K

Collect your medal at the Park Nicollet Apple Day 5K finish, then check to see if you earned a Lake Minnetonka Running Series collector’s mug

Laura Hotvet, Director at the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Chamber of Commerce, said in MinnesotaRunner “Your Luck of the Lake registration helps raise FUNds for fun; Irish green FUN (Luck ‘O Lake 5K), patriotic red white and blue FUN (Firecracker 5K and 10K), and red apple FUN (Apple of the Lake 5K). Did you know the Chamber purchases and maintains the colorful hanging baskets that bloom every spring, holiday lights and street décor, hosts the annual free to the public 4th of July fireworks, live music, parade, aerobatic airshow, Art on the Lake, Apple Day, Crazy Days, Girls Night Out, and much, much, more fun?”

Port of Excelsior

Lake Minnetonka Running Series supports FUN in Excelsior (All Apple of the Lake photos courtesy Studio 220 Photography)

With one of the remarkable features of nature in Minnesota by your side, that being Lake Minnetonka, plus the splendor of one of the country’s best main streets, the challenge of finishing the running series gets lost in Excelsior’s charm. That’s why this race series seems to go by so quickly. So, absorb this beautiful and healthy way to use your time. Enjoy a rousing start to the new decade while getting prepped for the snow that’s sure to follow.

Write Then, wave and say “Hi!” as you pass him on the course . . . .

About the author

Phillip Gary Smith

Phillip Gary Smith, Senior Editor, published "The 300-Mile Man" about Roberto Marron's historic doubling of the Tuscobia 150 mile endurance snow run. He publishes "iHarmonizing Competition" on various forms of competition, including drag racing, his favorite motorsport. Earlier, he wrote "HARMONIZING: Keys to Living in the Song of Life" as a manual for life with chapters such as Winning by Losing, Can God Pay Your Visa Bill?, and a young classic story, The Year I Met a Christmas Angel. His book, "Ultra Superior," is the first written on the Superior Trail ultra-distance events. He mixes writing with his profession--the venture capital world--a dying art. He is a creator of CUBE Speakers, a group espousing themes in "HARMONIZING: Keys" in a unique way. Currently, he has two books in the works.
Write to him at, or find him on Twitter or Facebook @iHarmonizing.

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