Cleaning Up After Marathoners

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published Jun. 19, 2012
  • Updated Jun. 19, 2012 at 9:31 AM UTC
Marathons require a lot of cleanup afterwards. Photo: Wall Street Journal

One man runs the operation at Grandma’s Marathon.

Most marathoners don’t think about it, but after the 26.2-mile race, there’s usually a large mess left to clean up.

One person familiar with this topic is Erik Nelson. His official title is the Grandma’s Marathon “Finish Line Coordinator”.

In actuality, he runs “marathon city”, where runners gather after the race.

“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 does things like wash out beer-soaked recycling bins and managing a 15-person work crew.

“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,’” he admitted.

Cale Schmidt-Jackson is a member of the crew and has been doing it for ten years.

“It’s a mess,” he said. “It’s absolutely a mess.” Still, Schmidt-Jackson calls it his favorite week of the year.

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Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin is the news editor at and a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released last July.

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