Cleaning Up Canal Park After Grandma's Marathon

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: June 23, 2019 10:38 PM

A lot of work goes into putting everything together for Grandma’s Marathon but just as much work goes into cleaning up the mess after the marathon is over. Staff and volunteers were hard at work this weekend cleaning up the mess that piled up from the marathon.


"I often describe my job as being the public works department of Grandma’s Marathon but today I'm really like the custodian of Grandma’s Marathon,” Erik Nelson, a Grandma’s Marathon cleanup coordinator, said.

When Erik Nelson isn’t working as the marathon finish line coordinator, he’s out helping set up everything for Grandma’s Marathon and taking everything down once it ends. He usually spends Father’s Day cleaning up the mess but this year he got off the hook with Grandma’s Marathon taking place the weekend after Father’s Day.

And for him, helping with Grandma's Marathon and cleaning up the mess that comes with it is a family tradition. His daughter, Olivia, flew in from Boston to help him and his wife.

"Both my parents always worked at Grandma’s Marathon so I always say summer doesn't start until Grandma’s is over,” Olivia Nelson, a volunteer, said.

Olivia used to work as the operations manager and her mom usually works as the packet pick-up coordinator. Now, Olivia calls herself a dedicated volunteer.

“Yesterday we had to get everything out of the roads so everyone could start getting down here for the post race party. Everything that we put out for a week long has to get packed up in two days so there's a lot of stuff to put away,” Olivia said.

Erik, Olivia, along with other dedicated staff and volunteers, work hard in taking stages and tents down, putting away gates, tables, chairs, and everything else that comes with the job.

"We've always had a big party at the end of the marathon and big parties mean a big mess to clean up,” Erik said. “Certainly a good attitude helps. The people who come back to help are the people who find a way to make it fun and make it interesting.”

"I'm helping with all the take down, help in sorting out some trash and clean up the mess so we can get it all ready so that on Monday you don’t even know that we were here,” Olivia said.

"We ask the restaurants and hotels to let us borrow their parking lot to put a dumpster in or tent in or things like that but I try to get all that stuff out afterwards so they can get back to business of being Canal Park,” Erik said.

And being an environmentally friendly event is something Grandma's Marathon strives for. Lots of recycling and sorting takes place in the cleanup process.

"We try to do our best to be a good neighbor and a sustainable type of example for big events in this state and the region,” Erik said.

Setting up and putting away everything it takes to put together Grandma's Marathon is no easy task. It’s a huge team effort but many people look forward to helping with it every year.

"I definitely love the people I get to work with, the crew. They are my favorite people they're why I fly home I love my coworkers and I wouldn't want to sort trash in the rain with anybody else,” Olivia said.

The rainy and cold weather Sunday didn’t stop them. They had to shift things around and prioritize other things over others but the progress was good.

Erik said he usually has a crew of 12 to 18 workers. There's also help from many volunteers. He says there’s some that have been working with him for years and get excited to help with the event.

“When I make the calls in May and April to people and say, are you coming back? A lot of times they respond saying, Are you kidding? Yes, this is my favorite week of the year,” Erik said. “It's a job where you start with an empty parking lot and when you're all done, you have a great sense of helping the community and helping the race,” Erik said.


Alejandra Palacios

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved


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