Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

Home · Articles · News · Features · By George!
. . . .

By George!

Cherry Fest races founder, George Kuhn, keeps pace at 81

Erin Crowell - July 1st, 2013  


If you’ve made it a tradition to walk or run in the National Cherry Festival races, George Kuhn has been right there with you. Kuhn is not only the founder of the 1973 race but has also participated every single year, including this year’s 40th annual race on July 6 at the age of 81.

With black-rimmed glasses and a stack of brilliant white hair, Kuhn resembles the main character of the Disney/Pixar animated film, “Up,” Mr. Fredericksen – but instead of a tweed jacket and a plump body, Kuhn sports a pair of black spandex bicycle shorts. Veins snake along his muscular arms and legs, which have been darkened by years of the sun during daily workouts.

“You just have to make it part of your day,” Kuhn said about his daily workouts, which range from morning walks to pedaling his Trek road bike the 38 miles to Suttons Bay and back. “I’ve always kept it in my schedule. There was just no question if I was going to do something active. I’m just going to do it.”

That included overcoming hip surgery at the age of 64 and getting through a case of West Nile Virus.

“I got bit by the wrong mosquito and was in the ICU for four days. There were four cases in Northern Michigan. Afterwards, the doctor told me how worried he had been for me,” said Kuhn.

Both incidents threw a wrench in Kuhn’s exercises, but by six weeks post-surgery, Kuhn was on his bicycle – even riding 50 miles just two months after he was discharged.

When it comes to his diet, Kuhn has simply shifted from a protein-based, meatheavy focus to a balance of starches – and of course his nightly serving of ice cream.

THE FATHER OF FITNESS

Kuhn has become synonymous with running in Traverse City. Aside from organizing the first Cherry Festival race, he helped found the Traverse City Track Club, which celebrated its 50th year in 2011.

“George was always at the weekly track club races, ready to run because part of why he organized it is because he wanted to be able to do it himself,” said Lisa Taylor, director of the Meijer Festival of Races. “For my husband and I, (the track club) was our welcome wagon into the community.”

That same self-starter attitude has carried over into other aspects of Kuhn’s life, including his role in creating the school computer center at TBAISD.

“Who ran in the ’60s? Nobody. Who had a computer in the ’60s? Nobody. You’ve got to start things because no one else will,” said Kuhn.

‘IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL…’ OH, YOU GET THE IDEA

As of press time, there were close to 2,400 walkers and runners signed up for the 5K and 15K races, said Taylor.

“We usually get about 300 walk-ups the day before and maybe 100 more on the morning of the race,” she said, despite the race date being moved ahead a week from previous years. “I’ve noticed it’s also really a family event. It’s not surprising to see mom, dad and the kids all registered.”

That wasn’t the case when Kuhn started the event.

“Back in the ’70s, one of the Cherry Fest board members said, ‘we ought to have a marathon for the festival.’ Well, back then there weren’t many marathoners around so we decided to do a 10K,” Kuhn said of the original race.

Within a few years, word had spread and nearly 600 participants were signing up.

“It got to the point where it became too much a hassle to bus so many people out to the peninsula (the original starting point), so we changed it to a 15K and tried to narrow down the field.”

Even after adding the route over McKinley Hill, that race continued to draw participants.

“Eventually the numbers grew again,” he chuckled.

CELEBRATING HEALTH

Now divided into a 5K and 15K, the Meijer Festival of Races invites people of all ages to get moving during the National Cherry Festival.

And like years past, Kuhn will be present – rounding out the back of the pack with his ski walking poles and determined attitude.

“I talked to him the other day and he goes, ‘Well, it’s going to be a long 5K but I’ve been preparing for it.’ He takes it seriously,” said Taylor about her mentor and hero. “I remember when he turned 60… he had a chin-up bar in the backyard and would celebrate his birthday by doing a pull-up for every year he turned. He walked right up to that bar and did 60 pull-ups. Some of the 30 and 40-year-old guys were standing there with their mouths open.”

The 40th Annual Meijer Festival of Races will take place on Saturday, July 6. Both the 5K and 15K distances will start at the main campus of Northwestern Michigan College and end along the Grand Royale Parade route in downtown Traverse City. Registration is still open and available at cherryfestival.org/festival-of-races.

 
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