Not only were the runners remarkable, the course itself was a delightful mixture of road and charming tree-lined paths along the banks of the Grand River. The scenery was beautiful, and the people were even better. Along with a terrific group of local athletes, runners today came in from California, BritishColumbia, Alaska, Montana, Atlanta, and a crew from Nebraska drove half the night to run today in their Cornhuskers foam “Corn Head” hats. We also had an esteemed guest from Runner’s World join us, and his sister ran as well (she ran the farthest…hee! hee!)
Conditions today were ideal, and the group took off at a fairly aggressive pace. I always like to bring up the rear, that’s who gets the food first from the support vehicle. We hit the half at 2:03, and I was in the middle pack, the front-runners were way up ahead. My motto during these marathons has been: “Go slow, and eat lots.” I always try to do my best with both. Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without the great support we get during the run from the Endurance 50 “SAG” wagon and those tireless lads inside, Garrett and Koop.
Today, just like every other day, these guys dispensed endless bottles of water, Cytomax, Gels, Body Glide, and Nature’s Path energy bars, always with a smile. They even got the tunes going on some external speakers they’d rigged to the roof rack, often taking runner’s song requests as we went. I must have heard from at least a dozen people today about how great those guys are, and I couldn’t agree more. This event would never be what it is without Garrett & Koop.
The group today was very strong, and everyone finished in fairly close proximity. We had our firsthandicapped runner today, and she absolutely blew my mind (and everyone else’s) with her consistency. Her pace was so steady, you could set your clock to it! A number of first-time marathoners, women and men, bounded across the finish line, and a few PR’s were set in the group as well. Overall, it seemed to be a great time by all.
The outpouring of support today for Karno Kids was unprecedented. Michigan is not known as the fittest state in the union, but from what I saw today, there are certainly pockets of hope. These were some of the most dedicated and committed crusaders I’ve ever met, healthy and happy folks working together to create change. Not only am I encourage by the runners and the people I met today, I am inspired.
Grand Rapids might make fine furniture, but it’s the people that leave a lasting impression.