Gearing Up For Grandma’s Marathon

Crews Busy in Final Stretch to Race Day

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Erik Nelson has had his hands full all week long, trying to make the 39th Annual Grandma’s Marathon the best one yet.

“We have a very tight time frame, there’s only so many days we get to play in the parking lot,” Nelson said. “It’s a job you see laid out in front of you, it’s chaotic in the middle of it, but come Wednesday morning when I can call it almost all done, I get a smile on my face.”

Nelson has been helping prep for the race since its inception 39 years ago.

“I think there was a keg of beer behind the restaurant and you grabbed a beer and a t-shirt and went home and that was about it,” explained Nelson.

He’s watched Grandma’s grow from only 200 runners in 1977, to 18,000 this year.

“I don’t think they even closed roads the very first Grandma’s,” laughed Nelson.

“In addition to the runners, we’re going to bring in about 50,000 additional spectators and friends and family,” said Bob Gustafson, PR Director of Grandma’s Marathon.

He knows better than anyone that the week leading up to Grandma’s Marathon is an exciting time.

“It’s like a holiday for everyone.”

But it’s also a hectic time.

“It is a complete transformation of what, normally, Canal Park is like,” Gustafson said.

The influx of people has Grandma’s Saloon staffing up and stocking up.

“We ordered 150 three gallon tubs of ice cream, and we expect to go through all of that for the marathon,” said Jill Toms, General Manager of Grandma’s Saloon.

The staff is getting excited to cheer on the athletes in any way they can.

“We serve a lot of waters on Saturday,” Toms laughed.

Three-hundred sixty-five days of planning comes down to one weekend.

“This week is a lot of fine tuning our plan, what we have been working on all year,” Gustafson said.

No matter your role…

“It might be running, it might be hosting runners, it might be volunteering.”

The journey’s end is worth the ride.

“Canal Park itself with the finish line area, there’s no place like it,” Gustafson smiled. 

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