Meijer Festival of Races-National Cherry Festival

Happy Monday!  We had an awesome weekend over here.  It’s pretty hard to keep track of us lately, but we are back in Michigan and at the lake, after a week in Rhinelander, WI.

For several years now we have done our best to make it to the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, MI.  If you have never been, Traverse City is one magical place.  It has a small town vibe mixed with just enough city life to be the perfect combo.  The area prides itself on fresh and healthy foods as well as dozens of wineries and breweries.  Seated on a bay of Lake Michigan, it is the ultimate “Inland Sea”.  The water is crystal clear and is reminiscent of the Caribbean.  It is truly a vacationer’s destination.

The climate here is just perfect for growing delicious cherries and Traverse hosts a huge National Cherry Festival each summer.  This week long celebration starts on a Saturday with opening ceremonies and airshows, continues with festivities and multiple parades all week, and then ends the following Saturday with a Festival of Races, huge Grand Royale Parade and fireworks. 

My return to racing several years ago began at the Cherry Festival.  It was ideal for me schedule-wise because my parents were able to drop me off at the start on their way to secure a spot for the parade.  Afterward, I was able to come join my entire extended family for the parade and other festivities. 

This year we made a return to the races and opted for the 15k.  We had the option of a 5k, 10k, 15k, or half marathon.  We were lazy and didn’t want to do the early start for the half marathon but I would absolutely try that next year.  I also just love the 15k distance and it is a rare breed in the racing world. 

We were lucky enough to do this race with several friends and a few athletes I have been working with who are training for marathons.

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The races go off in waves approximately 10-15 minutes apart from each other.  This was great because unlike Grandma’s Marathon, there were plenty of porta-potties and as each event took off, the lines got smaller and smaller. 

Why I love this race:  It is a perfect medium sized race.  Everything is well planned and laid out.  The course is gorgeous and the runners all take this pretty seriously.  It follows one side of the peninsula for half of the race and then goes back up the other side for the remainder.  The final mile spits you out on the parade route where onlookers eagerly cheer you on as if you were running a major marathon. I even heard someone call out for me by my maiden name.  Imagine my surprise when I realized it was my brother’s hockey coach from almost 30 years ago!

What I hate about this race:  Quite simply, Mt. McKinley  McKinley hill is a beast and it literally makes you nauseous.  Just about halfway through the race, you cut across the peninsula and the only way to do so is by crossing this hill. On the bright side, the local winery at the top is ready to hand out water (as are other locals who make their own aid stations at the end of their driveways).  On the downside, going down the hill is almost more treacherous as the uphill portion.  I nearly tripped over my own feet as I shuffled down.

Overall:  The weather was nearly perfect with cloudy skies, a bit of a gusty wind, and a chill to the air.  I pushed myself just a bit but played it safe because I knew I had my baby waiting to see me and other athletes to look out for at the finish.  I was happy with my finish and felt that I ran strong, especially considering that I pushed Mary in a running stroller all last week (follow up on this later in the week). 

This race actually attracts some pretty speedy runners.  I have always had a good run here but always came up fruitless.  Imagine my surprise when I went to see my results and found out that I placed second in my age group!  There really is something to be said for getting older (wink, wink)!

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Shout out to Simple Hydration for letting me represent at yet another successful race!

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I hope everyone had a great weekend.  A special thanks for running with me and congrats to Rock, Pat, and Jennifer.  And a shoutout to Darcy, Pete and Mike who I met up with along the course and at the finish.

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Heading home and catching some parade on the way.

8 thoughts on “Meijer Festival of Races-National Cherry Festival

  1. I would die in cherry heaven at a cherry festival. But it would be an excellent way to refuel after that race! Any time something is called Mt ___ and they mean it for reals (not like Mt Roosevelt in the Chi Marathon), it is something to take into consideration!

    • Oh yes. It is a heck of a hill. Cherry Fest might be calling your name next year. Cups of cherries, bags of dried cherries, and a gallon of chocolate milk (not kidding) were waiting for each finisher.

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