Two new marathons draw runners to region
By Erin Crowell 6/22/09
While stretching near the start line of Run Charlevoix, chances are youll see a mother to your right, securing her race bib and her toddler into the stroller shell be pushing in the race; to the left of you, a running veteran from Oregon, slapping his thighs as he prepares to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
At most races, this scene wouldnt make sense. But at Run Charlevoix, athletes of different caliber, from seasoned athlete to recreational walker, can find a distance and pace suitable for their level.
While most races are comprised of one or two distances, the third annual Run Charlevoix (happening this Saturday) hosts four, two of which are divided into categories the marathon (26.2 miles), half marathon (13.1 miles), walking marathon, walking half marathon, 10K (6.2 miles) and 5K (3.1 miles).
Were preparing for a thousand runners across the board, says Run Charlevoix race director Ron Suffolk. The first year we had 325 and we were pleased with that.
There will be people from 33 states, Canada, Great Britain and one runner from Japan, he added.
Suffolk is the co-founder of Good Boy Events, the Ann Abor-based race company hosting Run Charlevoix. Good Boy specializes in triathlons, but organizes this event, along with the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot in Ann Arbor and the Beaver Island Marathon, making its premier this September.
FROM 9/11 TO 1,800
Ron Suffolk, a retired incentive manager for Ford, unofficially retired from marathon running when he started organizing race events with his son, Jeff. Shortly after the events of September 11, 2001, Jeff completed an 1,800 mile bicycle ride to all of the places affected by that day a trip that started in Kalamazoo to New York City, down to the Pentagon in Arlington, VA, to the field in Shanksville, PA and back.
Jeff did triathlons to train for the trip, says Suffolk.
After the bike ride and graduation from Western Michigan University, Jeff took his triathlon interest with him when he moved to Arizona.
In 2003, Jeff hosted his first triathlon in Tempe, AZ, with help from his father, along with his mother, Sharon, and sister, Jennifer.
The Suffolks hosted several races out west, with Jeff manning the helm of some of the most notable races today, including the Soma Half Ironman, Nathans Triathlon and the SheRox Triathlon.
Four years ago, the family brought their race organization skills home.
We thought, Lets see what we can do in Michigan, recalls Suffolk.
BRINGING IT HOME
The family chose Ann Arbor and hosted a 5K called The Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot.
It sounds kind of selfish, but I asked Jeff to help with the race just to get him home, says Suffolk. Selfishness paid off and the race was a success.
The family then set their sights north to Charlevoix, a place they visited often when vacationing with friends in Harbor Springs.
We love Charlevoix in the summer, says Suffolk. I love riding my bike from there to Petoskey. I thought how amazing it was that nobody has tried doing a marathon out of Charlevoix.
The Suffolks proposed the idea to the right people and the race was finalized 10 months later.
Run Charlevoix is currently in its third year, drawing more numbers along the way. As mentioned earlier, the race is a qualifier for the coveted Boston Marathon. The Charlevoix Marathon is considered flat and fast few hills and fairly shady.
This draws dedicated athletes from all over, including runners whose primary goal is to run a marathon in every U.S. state.
I get calls from runners that request certain (race) numbers, says Suffolk.
Jeff Anerson of Lansing requested 193, as it is his 193rd marathon.
We also encourage mothers to come out with their strollers and do the 5K with their kids, he adds.
When old national sponsors fell through, Run Charlevoix found support locally.
We try to buy locally when we can, says Suffolk. We buy the finishers medals in Traverse City. Glenns Market is providing food and water and all the area hotels are donating free stays for the raffle, good for 12 months to get people back here.
Greeting racers at the end of their 5K, 10K, half or full marathon will be a display of flowers and plants from Marvins Gardens of Charlevoix and an 18-foot-tall inflatable arch.
Good Boy Events will donate money raised from the race to local charities, including the Charlevoix Elks Club, and the Charlevoix High School boys and girls varsity soccer and track teams. Organizations get paid to work the race, money they can use for their programs.
Good Boy also donates a portion of proceeds to Great Lakes area animal shelters. So far, theyve donated over $180,000 for local charities.
The Run Charlevoix Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K & 5K takes place June 27 in downtown Charlevoix. Marathon walkers begin at 6 a.m., with the last race (the 5K) taking off at 8:15 a.m. Online registration ends June 25. Registration is open June 26, from 3-7 p.m. in Bridge Park. Participants may register on race day for the following times: Marathon and Half Marathon, 5:30-6:30 a.m.; 10K and 5K, 6:30-7:30 a.m.
For more information on this race and the Inaugural Beaver Island Marathon (happening September 5), visit