Nelson joins Grandma’s Marathon as Program Director

October 28, 2020

Will Focus on Sustainability Initiative, Volunteer Coordination, and Kids Programming

(DULUTH, MINN.) — Grandma’s Marathon-Duluth, Inc. is pleased to announce the hiring of Alivia Nelson as its new Program Director, effective immediately.

Among her primary responsibilities will be overseeing Grandma’s Marathon’s sustainability initiative, volunteer coordination, and kids programming throughout the year. She will provide marketing and administrative support and assist with the planning and production of various events for Grandma’s Marathon and the Young Athletes Foundation (YAF).

Nelson is a Duluth native who grew up around the marathon, with both her parents serving throughout her life as key personnel on and around race weekend. Nelson herself officially worked for the marathon from 2014-19 as both the office assistant and operations manager.

“Growing up, Grandma’s Marathon race day was always my favorite day of the year and I’m excited to come home and be a part of it again,” Nelson said. “After having worked other events around the country, Grandma’s has proven itself to be one of the most organized and well-respected organizations in the industry. I’m looking forward to connecting and working with our community to continue to uphold that reputation.”

Nelson had been working since 2019 as the Development Specialist at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, where she was responsible for the management and coordination of 4 Bike MS and 18 Walk MS events.

She also has experience working race operations for other events across the country like the New York City Marathon, RunVermont, and Rhode Races.

Nelson has a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Business Administration with a marketing concentration and sustainability theme from the University of Vermont. She received the Outstanding Student in Sustainable Business Concentration award, which is given annually to just one student in the program.

“Alivia’s knowledge and experience in sustainability will be extremely valuable to our organization as we continue to move toward becoming a ‘zero waste event,’” Executive Director Shane Bauer said. “Not only that, but with her family ties to the marathon, we know Alivia personifies and believes in our mission and will add greatly to our community outreach in the future.”

The 45th annual Grandma’s Marathon weekend is scheduled for June 17-19, 2021. For more information, please call our office at (218) 727-0947 or visit grandmasmarathon.com.



Grandma’s Marathon began in 1977 when a group of local runners planned a scenic road race from Two Harbors to Duluth, Minnesota. There were just 150 participants that year, but organizers knew they had discovered something special. Grandma’s Marathon weekend draws approximately 20,000 participants for its three-race event each June.

The race got its name from the Duluth-based group of famous Grandma’s Restaurants, the first major sponsor of the Marathon. Over time, the level of sponsorship with the restaurants changed, but the name stayed the same. Grandma’s Marathon-Duluth, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization with a 17-member Board of Directors and a small, nine-person staff.


Created in 1990, this arm of Grandma’s Marathon allows us to support community members and local businesses to provide pathways of opportunity for kids to live to active and healthy lifestyles. The YAF offers a variety of community grants and youth programming, including our Running Shoe Program, UMD Scholarship Fund, and Wednesday Night & Saturday Morning at the Races.

In addition, the YAF’s mission is helped and funded by various races throughout the year — St. Fennessy 4K, Fitger’s 5K, Park Point 5-Miler, Minnesota Mile, and North End Nightmare.

Since its inception, the YAF has contributed more than $1 million to area nonprofit youth athletic organizations.