Michigan is home to a surplus of excellent running races, thanks to a combination of incredible scenery and a lot of organizations looking to use races as a fundraising opportunity. So, stretch your hammies, load up on some carbs, and get on your mark for 9 of the best road races Michigan has to offer!
The Zeigler Kalamazoo Marathon has several focuses behind it. Including not only a fundraising arm geared toward helping children's charities but also an environmental focus thanks to its "Green Strides" unit, the Zeigler Kalamazoo Marathon comes with an unexpected feature. The race encourages spectators to create "excitement zones" to help drive runners forward along the huge and twisting course. Along the way, spectators will see Kalamazoo's neighborhoods, parks, and even its first-of-its-kind downtown pedestrian mall.
A 5K combination run and walk, which is pretty good by itself, the event offers green shirts, a special 1K run/walk specifically for the kids with medals and ice cream at the end, a set of awards for those who finish the bigger race, and bib timing. Plus, those who still want a little bit of a party will be able to get in on the post-race event hosted at a local Irish pub.
Grosse Ile's attempt to fight back against cystic fibrosis and have some fun in the process, the half marathon boasts not only several different races—run, walk and relay alike—but it also boasts an unusual feature: The 5K race is reportedly held indoors, using an airport hangar for its basis. This pretty much guarantees good weather for a race, no matter how bad the rain and cold get outside.
Some of Michigan's best foot races involve several different features at once, and Run Woodstock won't lack for a diverse value. Running in early September, this foot race is considered “a celebration of freedom and fitness.” With live music, side events like yoga courses, and the only 100-mile race in Michigan—along with a host of other running events—Run Woodstock brings together scenery and foot racing the way only Michigan can.
In a similar vein, the Two-Hearted Trail Run in Paradise, Michigan offers a slate of distance running events in various distances. Named for the Hemingway novel, “The Big Two-Hearted River,” the Two-Hearted Trail Run offers up an 80 percent single track run and a 20 percent dirt forest or two-track road. When all that running gets to you, though, the Camp 33 Brew Pub will be on hand to help racers refresh. It's a mere 200 meters from the finish line, reports note.
In Allendale, at the Grand Valley State University campus, two separate groups of fitness buffs get together for a workout. Naturally, given the title of this list, it's foot runners, but joining the fray is an unusual breed: Hand cyclists. Typically run in April, the event allows these two groups to engage in the same race on the same track. A post-race raffle has been known to follow featuring a slate of prizes, so it's entirely possible that racers won't go home empty-handed.
Though the Big House 5K in Ann Arbor would look like just another 5K run at its outset, the biggest part of this foot race is where it ends. It starts out near the Stephen M. Ross Athletic Campus, and proceeds down a 5K run until it reaches that end point: The 50-yard line at the Big House, the University of Michigan's football stadium. With almost 5,000 people running last year, it's a safe bet that this is one of the best-traveled foot races the state has to offer.
Grand Rapids plays host to this event, which runs like a normal half-marathon. It would be easy to miss the unusual feature about this race, though, at least until you look closer at the racers. Yes, the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon is an exclusively women-only event, and it's one that's catching on. It brought in over 3,500 runners last year, including 700 ladies who'd never run the track before. Those who want to follow the event can keep up by virtue of a string of bloggers writing the event up.
By itself, the Tulip Time Run is indistinguishable from the others, except for the obvious difference that the name suggests. Run annually in Holland, the Tulip Time Run focuses on the area's claim to fame: A massive superabundance of tulips. Runners can register for the 5K run, the 10K run, or both at once for the same price, a welcome development for bargain-hunting runners. Those who engage in the run will get a constant look at tulips as they run, and given that this year played host to around 4,000 runners, a lot of folks wanted a look at some tulips.