Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Festival of Races
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Festival of Races

Erin Cowell - July 5th, 2010
Runaway Success: Festival of Races to welcome more than 3,000 runners
By Erin Crowell
This year, the National Cherry Festival turns 84, making one of its
events, the Meijer Festival of Races, look young at a spry
38-years-old. However, the races have been around long enough to
inspire family traditions and bring thousands together, both
participants and spectators, for one last Cherry Festival hoorah.
Even more new to the scene is Lisa Taylor – race director for the
event. This will only be Taylor’s second year taking the helm; but
with over 30 years of experience running in the festival race, Taylor
is well versed in all that is cherry.
The Express recently chatted with Taylor over the phone about the
upcoming 5k and 15k Meijer Festival of Races, happening July 10, in
downtown Traverse City. Fittingly, the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels were
just coming into town at the time, ripping apart the skies with their
first-round of aerial practices for the week.

NE: So, I hope you can hear me over the jet engines.
Taylor: Yes, Wow! It looks like Cherry Festival is really here…

NE: So, could you tell me a little about your new role as race director?
Taylor: Last year was my first year and I was like, ‘Oh, I’m just
going to see how all of this works and see what kind of reception I
get.’ It went really well. So that got me fired up to do it again and
make it really great.

NE: How did you fall into the role?
Taylor: There’s certainly no college degree in race directing. It was
really because I have a great love in participating in the event. I’ve
spent years being a participant and observing races all over the
country. I qualified for and ran the Boston Marathon. I’ve always
watched with the eye of, ‘If I did this, I would do it like that.’
I’ve picked pieces and observed as a way to kind of prepare.

NE: What kind of numbers are you expecting at this year’s race?
Taylor: It’s really exciting to see what’s happening with running
events across the country. The last year or two there’s been like a
second boom of running. We’re anticipating a 25 to 30 percent increase
over last year, so well over 3,000 people.

NE: Wow.
Taylor: Yeah, it’s big. I’ve tried to add some elements that would
make it more of a social type of activity, because that’s what this
race has become for a lot of people. We’re going to have—for the
second year—the new finish at the intersection of Front and Union
streets. It was initially off a road where not as many parade goers
could see it. The runners finish on the parade route, literally. It
really is a fun experience.
The other new thing is a beer tent awards finish. Get a little cold
one to cool off, whether it’s cherry soda or beer. We plan on seeing
how that goes and see if we can’t turn that into a type of pseudo
Another change is the Golden Mile. It’s back to its original home.
Since 1983, the Festival of Races has had this elite mile which
invites elite men and women from all over. The men have to qualify at
a 4:10 mile pace, with women at a 4:50 pace. So, some of the best
runners come to duke it out. There’s also prize money for the man who
finishes under four minutes; and the woman who finishes under 4:30.
There will be about a dozen in each race.

NE: I thought the Golden Mile had found a new home at the Traverse
City Film Festival?
Taylor: Yes, and the guys behind the race—Bryan Burns and Eric
Houghton—reintroduced the concept. The film festival was a great
venue; but they asked, ‘Can we do it again like we did back in ’83?’
The last time the Cherry Festival hosted the Golden Mile was back in
2002; and now it’s back. We’re really excited—wait, hold on… (She
pauses as the sound of a jet engine roars in the background).
Okay (laughing).

NE: In your opinion, what makes a great race?
Taylor: Accurate timing, an organized registration system and the
venue and race course itself. Ours is just fantastic. Running along
the east shores of East Bay, going over the peninsula and McKinley
Hill…once you get back down the hill you follow down West Bay and it’s
just a beautiful venue for running. That is, of course, the 15k.
The 5k has a run through some of the classic neighborhoods, like
Washington Street onto Front.
The other element is to have fun activities that are associated with
the finish area, like good finish food.

NE: What food is on the “menu” for this year?
Taylor: Yogurt, cookies, bagels, bananas… We’re going to hand the
racers a cup of sweet cherries from Cherry Bay Orchards. I don’t know
of any other race that can give fresh sweet cherries, grown locally.

NE: I’ve always been curious about this: how do you measure a race
course? I picture a bunch of people piled into a car hitting the
Taylor: (Laughs) That is an excellent question! Not many people ask
that. I have a certified course measurer with U.S. Amateur Track and
Field; and they have this very elaborate requirement for how a course
is to be measured. It involves special equipment that you mount to
your bike. You have to calibrate your bike to a pre-measured distance,
then it involves spring scales, steel tape, tire pressure. Oh, and
tangent running.

NE: What makes these races so special?
Taylor: As a director, seeing everyone having so much fun, doing a
really healthy physical activity together. As a participant, part of
what I like about races like the Cherry Festival—which has been going
on for 38 years—is the traditions that people have established around
the event. I know in our family, it’s run the race, talk with friends,
watch others finish, eat a bratwurst, sit and watch the parade, then
go home, take a nap and then return into town for the fireworks.

NE: Sounds like a good day. What advice would you give to first-time
runners of this race?
Taylor: My advice would be start slowly and start according to your
ability. We have pace corrals that will help people pace themselves.
For example, if I started running 12-minute miles, I shouldn’t be
lined up with guys running 5-minute miles. Someone will get hurt.
Notice everything around you, the people that are at your same pace
and enjoy being together. The second thing would be, get registered
early (laughs) so you can think through the timeline of your morning
and really maximizing your day with a fun event, like a 5k or 15k run.

Registration for the Meijer Festival of Races, happening July 10, is
available online through July 8 at visit.cherryfestival.org/race-info.
There you will find complete information on the course, as well as
packet-pickup location and times.

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