Race Recap: Marathon #14, Grand Rapids, MI: Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon

The reason behind the fantastic company I kept for state #14 traces all the way back to state #7, the Salt Lake City Marathon.

My friend Jeff and I were taking on the beautiful mountain course (read: I was wheezing and hobbling through high elevation, while super fit SLC people breezed past me, trying their hardest not to rudely stare and gawk) and later caught up with Elizabeth. You all may know her as @fiftyforbilly on twitter, which is how I first “electronically” met her.

We all finished the SLC Marathon, slung our race medals around our necks, and headed out that night to a local duelling piano bar to hang out and celebrate.

Me, Jeff, and Elizabeth post SLC Marathon

Since then, Elizabeth and I kept in touch and took a look at our list of states yet to complete. We realized we still each had to do Michigan and a great race we heard about, the Grand Rapids Marathon, was coming up in October of 2012.

Why not do it together?

So we signed up, made travel arrangements, and arrived in Grand Rapids, MI on Friday. We immediately decided to show up for the early start, as we were not as prepared as we each would have liked. We figured we’d relax, check out Grand Rapids over the next day and a half, and put one foot in front of the other on Sunday morning…

…into Sunday afternoon…

…but hopefully not into Sunday night.

We started out the trip just walking around the cute downtown areas, heading to a bar that had about a zillion beers on tap, and finishing off the evening with a cocktail at a 27th floor sky bar overlooking the city.

Saturday we made plans to walk around, hang out at the expo, and relax before our early start time the next morning.

Couldn’t resist buying this!
Please note the random hand holding a pickle jar, on the right.

Early to bed and early to rise. Sunday morning found us lined up an hour before the official gun went off, joining many other runners and walkers taking advantage of the early start.

The first few miles were in the dark, and we were gifted with witnessing the sun come up and the fog slowly lifting. We kept things easy, walking when we had to, chatting some, and running single file when the lead packs eventually caught up to us.

The course and the weather were ideal. It’s a fast, scenic, fall marathon that is great for those running their first marathon all the way up to those trying to qualify for Boston. The volunteers are great, the water stations are plenty, and the participants are friendly.

But it wasn’t easy. There were some painful parts. And I’m pretty sure I got super crabby about running shuffling at mile 21. Right about then I wanted pizza. And a coke. And french fries. And a sign that said “FINISH” to be in front of my face along with my damn medal.

But we speed walked / jogged through it, ran through that finish sign, got our medals, and got a hand shake from the race director at the end.

With Don Kern, the race director.

And then promptly showered and went out for nachos and beers.

Priorities, you guys.

State #14 is done!


  1. Congrats on #14!! That’s so cool you have a buddy to do this with too. And, um, LUCKY you for that weather! That kind of weather is becoming like a fairy-tale marathon day for me,.. some day my prince(weather) will come. :)

  2. Nice! I’ve heard great things about that race (and that medal is really elegant … I want it). Fourteen states down, many more adventures in the future. Keep it up!

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