Cleaning Up the Grandma's Marathon Weekend Mess
Posted at: 06/17/2012 9:43 PM
| Updated at: 06/17/2012 10:31 PM
By: Alan Hoglund
One of Duluth's biggest weekends of the year came to a close Sunday, as many runners and fans left town until next summer. Grandma's Marathon ended for most, but for some, there's work to do.
As we strolled through the empty tents in Canal Park, Erik Nelson, Grandma's Marathon finish line coordinator told Eyewitness News, "we've always thought a marathon should be both hard work and a big reward."
That reward is a party under the big top. But, with every party comes the mess. The one left this year, is big.
"I'm kinda the start of the solution to the problem," Nelson said, as he showed us the garbage strewn around the tents.
Nelson's formal title may be "Finish Line Coordinator," but he's called a lot of things, even the public works director of what's been deemed "Marathon City."
"It's a big small city. This is a full time job for me two weeks out of the year," he said. "We've got temporary plumbing and water heaters and extension cords..."
Nelson's in charge at "Marathon City." Every marathon, every year, he's been a part of it. After it's over, he manages the aftermath. He washes out beer-soaked bins for recycling, stacks dozens of tables with a forklift and wrangles a 15-person work crew, to name a few.
Cale Schmidt-Jackson is part of that crew. "I was 16 or 17 when I started putting up tents," he said.
Schmidt-Jackson's been doing that for 10 years. With his help the tents will come down Tuesday. But when we met him, he was deflating a giant blow up armadillo--all part of the cleaning process.
"It's a mess," Schmidt-Jackson said. "It's absolutely a mess."
For Schmidt-Jackson, this year, the early morning work came after a very late night of bartending at now empty tables under the tents. But he's not one to complain. "We got a good crew. They're fun and it's an awesome weekend. It's my favorite weekend of the year."
But that crew isn't alone. From the time tents are set up, to when they're taken down, Nelson said thousands of volunteers get involved in making Grandma's Marathon events happen.
Sunday morning, he said Denfeld High School soccer players volunteered and picked up recyclables.
Including runners, coordinators said 60,000 people took part in the weekend events. For Nelson it meant working long, long hours. But in the end, said it's all worth it.
"You really know you worked hard and people come up to you on the street in the vest, slap you on the back and go 'great job,'" Nelson said.
Coordinators said Sunday that registration for next year's races begins in two weeks.