Michigan Runner Girl

The Michigan Runner Girl podcast is where you'll find a passion for running crosses paths with a love of living healthy in the beautiful state of Michigan. Runner, mother, writer and lover of all things Michigan Heather Durocher, creator of the running and travel site, hosts the show, along with regular appearances by fellow Michigan Runner Girls (and Guys). Expect to hear informative and entertaining conversations with runners, race directors and fitness experts throughout Michigan during this weekly show. You'll learn about new races to try and great places to explore on foot. The Michigan Runner Girl podcast is all about living in a state of motion.
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Oct 15, 2018

It’s a big week for fall racing in Michigan with this Sunday marking the 41st running of the Detroit Free Press Chemical Bank Marathon and Half Marathon. Since 1989, Barbara Bennage has been involved with helping organizing this race tradition in The D. She’s served as executive race director of the event since 2014.

“The best part about my job, aside from giving runners the opportunity to experience a unique race and change their lives, is I have the greatest staff in the world,” says Barbara, who works in the marketing department at the Detroit Free Press and describes herself as a recreational runner – “I run for mimosas,” she jokes.

This race brings between 26,000 – 27,000 runners to the downtown streets of Detroit, across the Ambassador Bridge into the Canada (for the international races), and onto Belle Isle. Barbara shares the history of the longstanding race – it started as the Motor City Marathon in 1963; the course began including the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit with Windsor, Ontario, Canada, in the late 1970s – and also explains how today there are both international and domestic distances for runners, and what that means for the runner experience.

Barbara also talks about the race’s health and fitness expo that takes place in Cobo Hall this Friday and Saturday. More than 100 exhibitors will be on hand for this event. The race after-party, meanwhile, is a big celebration that offers some $5,000 in giveaways.

While online registration is over, runners still can sign up for domestic races this weekend (not race day) at the health and fitness expo. There is a 5K and mile option, too. Learn more at the race web site:

Oct 8, 2018

When was the last time you tried something different with your exercise routine, when you decided it was time to shake things up -- and then you went for it? 

Heather and co-host Cassy Stone dive deep into what it means to ask ourselves, "What's next?" as it relates to considering a big goal, whether it's starting to run for the first time, training for a first 5K, getting back into running after a break (due to injury, illness, or otherwise), or testing out a new-to-you sport. Heather and Cassy share their own experiences of breaking out of ruts and setting big goals. They reflect on what these endeavors meant to them at the time -- and how they helped shape their lives, both as runners and as women, wives, mothers, and friends.

Heather talks about why she feels now is the time to go big by signing up for her first IRONMAN 70.3 next summer. Cassy shares how living with a chronic disease impacts her running and everyday life -- and how she's looking forward to seeing where her determination and strength will take her at an upcoming 5K. 

Heather and Cass also laugh their way through a conversation about a shared favorite podcast featuring a well-known film and TV star (and Michigan native). 

If you've ever found yourself thinking it's time to shake things up a little, but maybe you're not sure exactly how that'll look, this episode is for you. You'll be inspired to get moving in the direction your heart is leading you.

Oct 2, 2018

Next summer, on Aug. 25, Michigan will get its second IRONMAN 70.3 – behind IRONMAN 70.3 Steelhead in Benton Harbor, set for June 30, 2019 – when Traverse City hosts the triathlon featuring a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and 13.1-mile run.

Buzz around this new event has been significant, to say the least, with athletes throughout Michigan and beyond eagerly anticipating registration day last month. And when general registration opened on Sept. 25, the race filled up incredibly fast – within a half hour, according to race organizers. Heather is among the 2,500 athletes signed on for this race.

To hear all about this exciting new event coming to northern Michigan, Heather sat down with Frank Lowery, Midwest and Great Plains Regional Director for IRONMAN, and Joel Gaff, IRONMAN 70.3 Traverse City race director.

While exact course details aren’t yet available – Joel and Frank are now working on building out where athletes will swim, bike, and run – they do share that the race will take participants into West Grand Traverse Bay, into Leelanau County, and around Boardman Lake and through downtown Traverse City. They also offer up great insight into what an IRONMAN race is really like, the training that’s involved, the athletes (of all ages and experience) who come out for these events, and many more details. As triathletes themselves (Joel, a Traverse City native and longtime race director, recently finished his 6th full IRONMAN races), Heather’s guests are well versed in triathlon and share their own experiences taking on swim-bike-run events.

Heather will be sharing all of her training in the coming months leading up to IRONMAN 70.3 Traverse City – stay tuned for more here on the podcast and over on the MRG blog.

Sep 24, 2018

Thinking about heading to Traverse City this fall or early winter for a race weekend getaway? Coryn Briggs, a northern Michigan runner and cyclist who works for Traverse City Tourism, gives listeners a preview of upcoming events and races taking place in the area over the next few months.

Coryn, who is behind Traverse City Tourism's social media channels — she serves as digital marketing manager for TC Tourism — also shares some lodging specials you may want to take advantage of, whether you're making it a girls' weekend, couples getaway, or family mini-vacation.

Coryn and Heather talk about their own experiences with these northern Michigan races, which include: the Sleeping Bear Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K on Oct. 6 in Empire, Mich.; Traverse City's 10th annual Zombie Run on Oct. 27; the 5th annual Great Beerd Run on Nov. 10 (which takes place during Traverse City Beer Week, Nov. 9-16 - and there's a special MRG discount code); the Up North Turkey Trot on Nov. 22; and the Farmland 5K Run and Free for All Bike on Dec. 1 on the east side of Traverse City.

Coryn also shares her family's trip to the U.P. this summer, for the popular Ore to Shore mountain bike races in Marquette.

Traverse City Tourism has a new site, which provides information on special lodging deals as well as other resources. Heather recently contributed a blog post about great places to see autumn color on a run. You can read it here.


Farmland 5K:

Great Beerd Run:

Zombie Run:

Sleeping Bear Marathon, Half Marathon & 5K:

Up North TurkeyTrot:



Sep 13, 2018

At age 62, west Michigan runner and race director Don Kern is going strong—he's running marathons (the East Canyon Marathon in Utah this summer marked #324), completing triathlons, eyeing a 4-mile swim across the Straits of Mackinac next summer, and race directing the event he helped start 15 years ago, the Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon, Half Marathon, and Marathon Relay set for Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. 

Don talks about his own running and endurance sports journey over the years and how he views his athletic pursuits these days.

He also shares how the GR Marathon got its start in 2004 (a brewery was involved!), how it's grown and evolved over the years (it started with just over 900 runners and now between 4,000-4,500 runners come out each year), and what runners can expect at this year's milestone event (the event is known as a race "designed by runners, for runners"). Race weekend also includes a kids' marathon on Saturday. "It's a very very high energy event. They're running their little hearts out and it's a blast having them out there." 

Don also is race director of the Groundhog Marathon and Half Marathon in Grand Rapids each February and the new Millennium Meadows Marathon that takes place in GR in August. 

A special MRG listener and reader discount code is good for all of these GR races. Use the code rcRunnerGirl to receive 10% off your race entry. 

Aug 29, 2018

Listeners will be excited to hear from Maia Turek, our Michigan Department of Natural Resources State Parks guru, as she sits down with Heather to talk about upcoming happenings around the Mitten this fall. (As Maia puts it, “Hoop-la” season is about to get underway, everyone!) Along with sharing fun and interesting spots to explore, and cool events like harvest festivals taking place at our state parks – did you know we have 103 state parks and 138 state forest campgrounds? – Maia and Heather talk about the State Department of Natural Resources’ Centennial celebration in the coming year, Heather’s end-of-summer trip to the Upper Peninsula and Van Riper State Park (did someone say moose-sightings?), AND how all of us can contribute to a joint project between the DNR and MRG that’s going to help us all explore our gorgeous state even more.

As was announced on the blog a couple of weeks ago, Michigan Runner Girl is teaming up with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to create an online guide of the best running routes in Michigan from the runners who know Michigan best…you

We all have our favorite Michigan routes – the ones with the perfectly located scenic overlook, or the road with the breeze off the lake, or simply the route with a great mix of scenery and geography to create an exhilarating challenge. 

Share your favorite routes to help visitors “know before they go” so they can be more confident in exploring some of Michigan’s most beautiful places. These spots can be in a Michigan state park or trail, your nearby hometown, or favorite vacation spot. 

Submit as many running routes as you want by Labor Day, Sept. 3, and you will be entered to win either a Michigan Runner Girl hoodie or Michigan state park sweatshirt!

Click here to share your favorite running route! 

MRG is super excited to be part of this project. This is another way we’re partnering with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources — did you also know that MRG participates in the DNR’s These Goods are Good for Michigan program? Michigan Runner Girl is among the businesses partnering with the DNR to raise awareness and financial support for Michigan state parks, trails, and waterways. A portion of the proceeds from these products, including MRG online store items, will be donated back to programs and amenities that benefit natural resources and outdoor recreation in this state.

Haven’t been over to the store lately? Been wanting to snag your own cozy MRG hoodie? Check out the MRG store here »

The Michigan Runner Girl Show is made possible in part by the Grand Traverse Resort & SpaTraverse City Tourism also helped make this episode possible.

If you enjoy what you’re hearing on the Michigan Runner Girl show, we’d be so grateful if you’d take a few moments to write a review on iTunes. This will help more runners and Michigan lovers like yourself find the podcasts. Thank you!! Also, the quickest way to get the podcasts is to subscribe to the show via iTunes or via Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. 

A special thanks to Mike Moran, Mike Youker and Jonny Tornga of Quarter After Productions in Traverse City, Mich. for producing the show. Check out this studio’s work here.

Aug 19, 2018

The summer of 2017 started out well for Ali Lopez, with big plans for triathlons as well as trail running and racing. But this all suddenly changed when she critically injured her left eye in an accident while at her home. 

Ali went from competing in a northern Michigan triathlon to the next day facing downstate surgeries and weeks of recovery. She couldn't be upright (no walking or running) and in fact had to spend significant amounts of time laying face down as her eye healed.

Ali, a wellness chef and health coach, is a longtime contributor to, writing columns about fueling smart and sharing delicious recipes. She opens up about her experience last summer -- "Mentally, it was tough," she shares -- and what it's now like being on the other side of this injury and getting back into running, triathlon, and cooking. 

"It was hard ... but now when I am running and it's really hot or I'm running and it's really cold, or whatever, I just laugh. Because this is not hard. Yeah, this hard, but this is nothing compared to [what I went through]. I keep telling myself, you get to keep doing this. You couldn't do anything last summer, so everything that I get to do, I am just so grateful for. Even now, I just hope I finish [a race]. I hope I'm not last, but I just hope I can finish. I can be in the water, I can be on my bike, I can be on the trails, I can be running, I can be doing stuff. Because it sucks when you can't."


Jul 30, 2018

It’s end of July -- time for a summer check-in! Heather welcomes Joe (her hubby) back to the show to talk about his running and racing over the past couple of months, and new role with MRG (check out his happy smile on the new site here.)

Joe’s racing has included the Bayshore 10K and helping cheer on Heather and Emma as they finished the marathon. They also talk about what they’ve been up to lately with their family (a day trip on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail most recently). We'd love to hear where you're exploring in Michigan this summer -- send MRG a note at or

Also  …. <drum roll> … Heather and Joe share some exciting things happening with MRG, including the MRG Box.

This episode also includes race news and deals you’ll want to check out as you look to fill your late-summer, fall, and winter race schedules.


Mentioned during this episode...

Local race happening in July in Glen Arbor, Mich.: 12th Annual Running Bear Run 

Awesome place to eat if you're in Leelanau County and on a day trip near Glen Arbor: Boone Docks


Jul 24, 2018

"I think the mile requires a hybrid type of athlete. We’re half sprinter and half distance runner. I think that the mile race itself is just long enough to create a dramatic anticipation for that last lap, and then this explosive finishing kick where really anything can happen. It’s a sort 4-minute story that’s really exciting to watch." ~ 1996 Olympian Paul McMullen, who grew up in Cadillac, Mich. and now lives in Grand Haven

On this latest episode, Paul talks about the allure of the mile, his amazing talent for this distance, both in high school and on the collegiate level -- his best mile time was 3:54 -- and what it was like to become an Olympic athlete. Paul, the father of three children, also shares what eventually propelled him beyond the mile and toward much longer distances, including the ultramarathon. He ran this year’s Boston Marathon and also participated in an especially grueling ultramarathon in Spain. Paul also is candid about how his relationship with running has changed over the course of his athletic career.

Paul, who is running this fall's Holland Haven Marathon, has a passion for encouraging young runners. Through his youth running club Chariots of Firein west Michigan, he is inspiring kids ages 6 - 13 to enjoy running. Through play, these kids have a fun place to discover and develop their gift of running, Paul says.

Paul also talks about how In 1997 he lost parts of two toes when his foot slipped under a lawnmower he was operating. He returned to the sport in December 1998 and was able to run even faster than before the accident. Runner's World referred to him, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, as "the world's fastest eight-toed miler."

Paul is an eight-time NCAA All-American who graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 1995. At his specialty of 1500 meters, he was the 1996 Olympic Trials 1500-meter champion, 1995 USA Outdoor champ and 1998 USA Indoor mile champ and tenth at the 1995 and 2001 World Championships outdoors. His personal bests are: 1500m-3:33.89 (2001), Mile-3:54.94 (2001) and 800m-1:45.71 (2001).

Jul 17, 2018

West Michigan runner and race director Kevin Curley vividly remembers hearing fellow runner Veronica Constantine's journey of living with a chronic health condition. Her story, of continuing to be active despite having Hydrocephalus — which involves excessive accumulation of fluid in the brain— left a lasting impression. And when Kevin learned that Veronica and her family were behind a local race that raises money for Hydrocephalus, he decided to get involved. "Running has been her way of not letting Hydrocephalus run her life," he says. "The race has always been a way to make more people aware of this condition." 

The Brainy Day Trail Run 10K and 5K, now in its 12th year, is set for August 11 in Nunica, Mich. Taking place on privately-owned trails, this event benefits the Brainy Day Fund, a nonprofit organization helping those affected by hydrocephalus. 

Race organizers say the event has drawn a solid number of runners over the years — and they're excited to welcome even more this summer. With its beginner-friendly 5K course and a challenging-and-satisfying 10K course, finisher medals for both distances, cool post-race party featuring Odd Side Ales brew and live music, not to mention unique age-group awards (fresh produce from the farm across the road!), this event is a great one to place on your race calendar this summer. AND: race organizers have generously provided a race discount code — MRG2018 — for listeners and readers. Get signed up here 

According to the Brainy Day Fund's web site, the goal "was to not only help families, but also create research grants for medical professionals looking to end hydrocephalus." For the past two years, the organization has been working to develop programs that it can manage as a small organization and that can also be very helpful to the community.

Thanks to the guidance of the Hydrocephalus Association, the Brainy Day Fun decided to launch two programs in 2018: a scholarship program for graduating high school seniors in Michigan living with hydrocephalus; and a research grant program.

The organization has raised more than $100,000 since the first race in 2007. The goal is to double that by 2025. "We would love the opportunity to help as many children heading off to school as possible, at the same time helping scientists find a more reliable way to manage hydrocephalus and continue to explore how to cure this condition," according to the site.

A third program still in the works is an education platform. The idea is to reach as many medical professionals in Michigan who have patients with hydrocephalus. "We want them to be made aware of the resources we provide as well as that of the Hydrocephalus Association."


Jun 18, 2018

The Fourth of July is almost here -- do you have plans for a patriotic race? One of MRG’s favorites: the super family-friendly Stars Stripes & Splatter, a 5K color run at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa near Traverse City. Color stations -- manned by volunteers who spread the cornstarch red, white, and blue love with runners as they pass by -- are located throughout the 3.1-mile course. The run, which is untimed, starts at Jazz Live Field on the resort grounds, and loops back to the start area, with portions of the race running on Lautner Road.

Race Director Kelly Yauk joins Heather on the show to talk about this year’s Stars, Stripes, and Splatter 5K, which is set for this coming weekend, Saturday, June 30. Also joining the conversation: Kelly’s Resort colleagues and fellow runners Jillian Manning, public relations manager, and Courtlyn Reekstin, marketing intern. They talk all about this weekend’s race, including new features (even more treats and goodies during the post-race party) and how the event continues to partner with Habitat for Humanity-Grand Traverse Region.

Kids 12 and under run for free with an adult participant. Children must pre-register for complimentary entry. Cost is $35 through this Friday, June 29, or $40 day of race if spaces remain.

Learn more and get signed up here:

For more Fourth of July-themed and summer races happening all around Michigan, check out the searchable race and event calendar on here:

Jun 11, 2018

Lifelong athlete and former collegiate volleyball player Sara Grey unexpectedly became a mother at a young age, in her 20s just as she was preparing to apply to law school. She describes that time of her life as challenging, and yet she also persevered—having her son, working hard to obtain her law degree—and she credits the "resilience and tenacity" she learned through moment and athletics as helping her not only get through a tougher time, but to ultimately thrive as a young mother and lawyer. 

Today, Sara practices law in Grand Rapids, Mich. and her son Henry, 18, just graduated high school. She's also recently launched WANNABE, maker protein blends and supplements for the everyday female athlete. "I want to help women find their own space and place and a community where they can grow and thrive and encourage. And train in resilience, and train in that sense of confidence—not just to train to have strong legs, but train to have a strong mindset. I want to create products that are the mirror back to women that celebrate their movement and power their movement and have messages along with it."  

"I have really invested a lot in my law career. I love the work that I do. But WANNABE, I feel called—I know it sounds a little cheesy—but i felt called. After I turned 40, I started to feel responsible for all the daughters I didn't have. As I got a little older, I started to think, what can we do for the next generation to help power them forward?"

Sara Grey is the Founder of WANNABE, maker protein blends and supplements for the everyday female athlete. As a three-decade athlete and whole-body health advocate, Sara’s pre-gym morning ritual meant making potions of protein, Ayurvedic herbs, supplements, superfoods, and power flowers. In order to get out the door faster, Sara streamlined her formulas, creating the first-of-their-kind WANNABE protein blends in the process. Sara is also the host of the podcast Power the Hustle where she interviews game-changing women from around the world about real bodies, real hustle and real team.

Jun 5, 2018

For months, Heather and Emma trained — as so many runners throughout Michigan (and beyond) did this spring — for the popular Bayshore Marathon that takes place each Memorial Day weekend in Traverse City, Mich. It would mark Heather's 4th Bayshore Marathon and 9th marathon overall, and for her daughter Emma, a 2018 high school graduate who celebrates her 18th birthday this month, the race would be her very first attempt at 26.2 miles following a 4-year high school cross country running career that included, after this spring's Gazelle Girl Half Marathon, five 13.1 races. 

Anyone who ran, or spectated, this year's Bayshore knows this: it was HOT. Brutally warm. Super humid. Low 70s at the 7:15 a.m. start — and it kept getting warmer. The weather certainly was fantastic for an exceptional long holiday weekend. But for running a marathon, half marathon or 10K? Not so much. (At least, not so for most runners who struggled with not having been acclimated to running in these conditions). 

Still, it was a beautiful day and it was Bayshore weekend — the unofficial kick-off to summer in northern Michigan.

Heather and Emma talk about the 18-week training plan they followed (they shared some of their runs on the MRG Youtube Channel, as well as on the MRG Facebook page). Emma also shares what it was like  committing to a marathon training plan during her senior year.

Mother and daughter get real about how the race unfolded (it was an emotional race, for more reasons than they expected), and what it meant to have shared this experience.


May 30, 2018

Ann Arbor-based race management company Epic Races is known for putting on, well, pretty epic races. From its flagship event Tri Goddess Tri each June and the American Home Fitness Detroit Women's Half Marathon, 10K & 5K in the fall, to a slew of year-round races and events for cyclists, skiers, swimmers, and runners, Epic Races provides myriad ways for us to stay moving. Eva Solomon helped start this company and she joins Heather on the show to talk about this year's events, including next month's 10th annual Tri Goddess Tri at Waterloo Recreation Area at Big Portage Lake State Park near Chelsea, Mich. (This also happens to be Heather's first triathlon a couple of years ago--it's a fantastic beginner-friendly triathlon that this year features the Olympic distance in addition to the sprint, mini-sprint, duathlon, and aquabike. Eva also talks about the special event happening over race weekend -- the Zen Tri, which takes place on Friday and includes running, yoga and meditating.

Tri Goddess Tri also is again welcoming well-known triathlete Meredith Atwood, who is behind the site and community Swim Bike Mom, to this year's event.

Be sure to use the special race discount code MRGEPIC2018 to receive 10% off any Epic Races race entry.

[Producer note: Eva and Heather talk about this spring's Ann Arbor Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K & 5K, which is another Epic Races event. Unfortunately this episode didn't come out prior to the race start as hoped. However, mark your calendars for next year's event!]

May 21, 2018

Scenic water views, Leelanau Peninsula wine, and cherries … all the makings of some fun and fabulous summer race weekends in Michigan, wouldn’t you agree?

As we look ahead to summer – this weekend marks the unofficial kick-off to the season, or what’s known as the 90 days of summer – MRG provides a closer look at three awesome summer racing events worth checking out: the Charlevoix Marathon, Half Marathon 10K & 5K on June 23; the National Cherry Festival of Races Half Marathon, 15K, 10K and 5K on July 7 in Traverse City; and the Vineyard to Bay 15K and 5K run/walk on Sunday, Sept. 2 in Suttons Bay.

Race directors Michelle Elliott (Festival of Races), Ross Deye (Vineyard to Bay), and Jeff Soffolk (Charlevoix) join Heather on the show to talk about their respective races – and also to share how these three events are part of the 2018 Record-Eagle Running Series.

You’ll hear why the Vineyard to Bay, which has contributed thousands of dollars to TART Trails and local schools in the past five years, moved to a new date – Labor Day weekend – and why pickle juice (and bacon) is served on the marathon course in Charlevoix. Michelle gives details of the cherry treats available post-race, and all three race directors talk about their own personal running adventures.

About the R-E Running Series: There is no cost to participate. Online pre-registration for the 2018 Record-Eagle Running Series is available until 8 am on Thursday, June 14 2018. Participation in the series is free. However, participants must register for each race and pay the according race fees on their event websites. Runners must participate in an event at the Charlevoix Marathon, Cherry Festival of Races and Vineyard to Bay Races. Times from all 3 events are combined, and at the Record-Eagle 2 Mile Championships in September, awards will be given to winners. Overall, Masters and Grand Masters Male and Female runners in each speed division will receive trophies and $100 cash. Top male and female runners in each age category will receive medals.

May 11, 2018

“If there was ever a year where I thought this was not my year, this was the one.”

Elite runner Desiree Linden didn’t think she would win this year’s Boston Marathon, but in fact she did—and in doing so became the first American woman since 1985 to win the historic Patriot’s Day race that starts in Hopkinton and finishes 26.2 miles later in Boston.

Des, who trains in Rochester Hills and lives in Charlevoix with her husband Ryan, had figured she was in a re-building year following some time off from running in 2017. “I took the break probably in mid-July. Looking back, I had done the [Olympic] Trials, I had done the [Olympic] Games, then done Boston [2017], so three really high-stress, high-pressure marathons back to back to back, and physically it was a lot to ask of my body and mentally, it was just like, I was exhausted and it wasn’t really fun anymore. I felt like I was trying to have this big breakthrough performance and was forcing it more than anything. So I needed to step away and hit re-set and re-group and figure out what I really loved about the process and not focusing so much on the goal. So that gave me time to hate the process, fall in love with the process, and then set the next goal. And that happened over a really big amount of time.”

On this special live podcast recording, Des shares her journey to Boston – and what it was like to battle brutal weather conditions on April 16 – with co-hosts Heather Durocher and Pam Carrigan during the third annual Michigan Runner Girl Spring Getaway at Timber Ridge Resort in Traverse City, Mich.

Des speaks candidly about falling back in love with running. “It probably happened when I was training for this Boston.”

“I had ups and downs with it in November and December and January … It’s when you forget you’re trying and you’re just doing … it’s ‘oh, yeah I do love this.’”

She takes the audience through the miles of the race, including when she turned to fellow elite runner Shalane Flanagan and told her she wasn’t thinking this was her day and that she was there to help Shalane if she needed it, and what it really was like to run in such freezing, wet conditions: “I would take a snow day over, like 30,  just above freezing and rain. That’s the worst. Those are the worst conditions. It was bad at the start … and whatever the weather is, it’s only getting worse as you get into the city. That held true.”

Looking back on her historic win, Des believes her consistent training – over the course of many years – led to her triumphant moment of crossing the finish line and breaking the tape.

“When I got to the [start] line, it was like, last year I got my butt kicked so why should I expect anything different this year especially when I really haven’t pushed the envelope to try to get better? But that’s why we line up in a race, because every race is different … It all makes sense now.”

Apr 30, 2018

If Traverse City is among your summer travel destinations -- or you've been looking for an excuse to spend some time in this northern Michigan town on the shores of Lake Michigan's Grand Traverse Bay -- you'll love this episode featuring a conversation between Heather and Coryn Briggs, a runner whose enviable job is digital content manager for Traverse City Tourism. 

Coryn is a return guest on the show -- she previously was on to talk about destination races with Kelly Yauk -- and she has lots to share about upcoming races, bike activities, and delicious food and wine events happening in the area this spring and summer. Coryn also shares her favorite routes to run in the Traverse City area -- and Heather chimes in with her favorites, too.

This "City Spotlight" episode kicks off a series of shows Heather will have focusing on different towns and regions of Michigan (and the cool things to do and places to run when you're there). If you have thoughts on what city Heather should focus on next, please email her at 


Apr 24, 2018

Spots still remain for the 3rd Annual MRG Spring Getaway, set for May 4-6 at Timber Ridge Resort in Traverse City, Mich. Heather is joined on the show by co-hosts Pam Carrigan, MRG event coordinator, and Meranda Lambert, who oversees events at Timber Ridge. The trio talk about the upcoming girls' weekend, which includes everything from running and biking and hiking, to dining and shopping downtown, to relaxation and sunrise yoga -- and lots more. They also share details (and their hard-to-contain excitement) about the weekend's featured guest: 2018 Boston Marathon Champion Desiree Linden. 

Weekend registration is here:

More event details are here:

Latest Retreat News: Desiree Linden, 2018 Boston Marathon champion, is the featured guest at the third annual Michigan Runner Girl Spring Getaway this May 4-6 at Timber Ridge Resort in Traverse City. Following her historic win on April 16 -- she is the first American woman to win the race since 1985 -- we are offering a special Friday evening-only option. Here's your chance to: go for a trail run with Des and enjoy drinks and heavy apps (and fantastic conversation) with Des as well as other like-minded women. We'll also have time to sit around the campfire with Des, who trains in Rochester Hills, Mich. and lives in Charlevoix with her husband Ryan and their dog Boston, and take in a cool slack-line demo by Sam at Backcountry North. Giveaways also will be part of the evening. And if you decide you'd like to stay the night, Timber Ridge has several lodging options -- you can also stay the entire weekend with us (simply sign up for the MRG Spring Getaway here at the online store; this Friday evening described above is all part of the weekend price.) For those who are interested only in the Friday evening option, simply purchase this option here. We're capping the event at 40 women, so please sign up soon if you're interested! We look forward to seeing you!

Apr 16, 2018

Wow, what a day! History was made when Michigan's own Desiree Linden, a 34-year-old runner who trains with Hanson-Brooks Original Distance Project in Rochester Hills and lives in Charlevoix, was the first woman to cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Her epic victory marked the first time an American woman has won this race since 1985. The first in 33 years! Des also demonstrated incredible sportsmanship when she slowed to make sure friend Shalane Flanagan (a fellow 2016 U.S. Olympic team member) was OK after she stopped for about 13 seconds to use the bathroom near the race's halfway mark.

Des, the two-time Olympian and 2011 Boston runner-up, pulled away at the end of Heartbreak Hill to finish in 2 hours, 39 minutes, 54 seconds. That was more than four minutes better than second-place finisher Sarah Sellers, one of seven Americans in the top 10.

"I'm thrilled. I'm exhausted. I left it all out there. Now I'm ready to warm up," Linden told CBS Boston. "It hurts right now, but it's a perfect day for me. This is a grinder's day. That's why I keep showing up here, and I think that's why I have success here is because I can kind of tough it out through anything.  

On this short-and-sweet MRG update episode (recorded a few days pre-Boston), Heather shares details of exciting things happening with Michigan Runner Girl, including having Des Linden be part of the upcoming 3rd Annual Michigan Runner Girl Spring Getaway on May 4-6 in Traverse City.

Lots more cool stuff shared during this update show! (Hint: new web site, Gazelle Girl info, fresh MRG designs!)

If you haven't yet listened to the MRG interview with Des Linden, take a listen here:


Apr 9, 2018

For the fourth year, students in Kristy McDonald's business communications class are behind the popular BIG Little Hero Race at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City. The race, which features a 10K, 5K & kids' fun run, is set for this Saturday, April 14. All proceeds of this run benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Michigan.

As anyone who has planned a running event knows well, lots of time and energy go into bringing a race to fruition. Each year, a new crop of college students take on this task, handling everything from seeking and finding sponsorship and volunteers, to figuring out race-day logistics and marketing the event. On this episode: three of the students involved in this year's event -- Noah Britton, Lauren Peterson and David Filkins -- talk with Heather about what it's like to tackle this kind of real-life project as a college student. Race Director Kyle Brownley, a college graduate who returned to this project after starting with it as a student himself, also joins the conversation. They all give the scoop of how this race has come together this year, what runners can expect on race day, and why their post-race party is among the best around. 

Runners and walkers typically dress in costume for this race -- there will be lots of Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, Ironman, and Captain America kids and families (among other fabulous costume choices). Free superhero capes are given to the kids. Races are timed and awards are handed out post-race.

While online registration has ended, day-before and day-of signups are available. The race takes place on part of the Bayshore route, making it a perfect training run if you're participating in the Bayshore Marathon, Half Marathon or 10K this Memorial Day weekend! 

Learn more and get signed up at 

The race's Favebook page:


Apr 3, 2018

Sara Plumstead and Amy Haenick are friends who met through their shared passion for running and living healthy. And in recent time, they've become business partners -- the Detroit-area moms are behind Run Strong Project, which offers coaching and run-specific strength training. They join Heather on the show to talk about becoming friends (Sara also coaches Amy) and their interest in helping other athletes take their running and strength training to the next level. They also share solid tips for incorporating strength training into our routines and improving our running performance.

"Sara began coaching me as a runner about a year ago," Amy says. "We became fast friends and started Run Strong Project in January 2017. I absolutely love being a strength coach and helping others to become stronger and faster!" 

"I started running at the age of 30," Sara says, "after the birth of my second daughter. It was a wonderful stress relief as I adjusted to life as the parent of a special needs child who has a rare chromosome deletion. I ran my first half marathon in 2007, and my first marathon a year later, finishing in 3:31. Since then I have completed at least 20 marathons." As Sara "embarks on my 40s," she is attempting to lower her marathon PR from 3:04 to sub 3:00. She's also an ACE certified group fitness instructor and a VDOT O2 certified distance running coach. 

Amy says she's always loved fitness. "I grew up playing sports. In high school, I was a three-sport athlete participating in swimming, volleyball and softball." She was named Female Athlete of the Year of her high school and went on to Michigan State University and graduated with a degree in Recreational Therapy.  Amy talks about how during her freshman year of college she became anorexic. "It was a tough transition from high school to college and I felt a loss of control. Once I became healthy and recovered (still an ongoing struggle sometimes), I started running. Running helped me so much in my recovery," she says. She ran her first marathon in 1996 and qualified for Boston on her first try. She has since run 10 marathons, including Boston and holds a PR of 3:35.


Sara's blog (she is currently training for the Bayshore Marathon): Michigan Marathoner

Sara on Instagram: MichiganMarathoner

Amy on Instagram: AmyRunsDetroit

Run Strong Project 

Mar 20, 2018

Endurance athlete, personal trainer, and triathlon coach Rebecca Venticinique ran her first road race at age 7 and continued running and competing throughout high school and college, where she took on the heptathlon (this involves seven events: 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200-meter dash, long jump, javelin, and 800-meter run). Rebecca joins Heather on the show to talk about triathlon -- she and her husband Tony coach athletes of all levels through their company Tri Again Fitness in Traverse City -- and how runners in particular can make the transition to this sport. Heather shares her experience with triathlon, having completed a sprint tri in southern Michigan a couple of summers ago (she is hoping to add a couple more this summer).

Since 1993, Rebecca has coached invidious sports, from cross country and track and field, to volleyball, soccer and softball. Most recently, this mother of 7 has found her niche in triathlon and marathon racing -- she's competed in the Bayshore Marathon, the Charlevoix Marathon, Disney's Goofy's Challenge, and the Midland Marathon. She finished her first Ironman in 2015.


Mar 13, 2018

Eddie Kline started his early fall marathon and half marathon racing event in west Michigan with a few goals in mind: Make it like the Boston Marathon with a bus ride out and run back to town. Give runners a final opportunity to snag a Boston qualifying (BQ) time in west Michigan. Support local businesses and nonprofits in his community. Also, “I wanted my friends in Holland to have a hometown race where all of their friends and family could come out and enjoy the lakeshore together.”

By all accounts, Eddie has done all of the above. Now entering its fifth year, the Holland Haven Marathon and Half Marathon (and 8K, added last year) takes place each September – the weekend prior to Boston Marathon registration opening – and features point-to-point race courses. (The marathon starts in Grand Haven and ends in Holland while the half marathon starts at the event’s charity partner, Camp Geneva, midway through the marathon course.)

Some 23 percent of marathon finishers BQ’d in 2016 and 2017.

What Eddie, his wife Jen, and their team of race volunteers didn’t necessarily expect: just how much the race would grow – registrations were up more than 50 percent last year. “We had runners from 25 states and four different nations,” he says. About 600 runners participated in one of the three distances, and 1,000 people attended the post-race party and expo, which includes free beer, cider, food, and vendors.

Eddie joins Heather on the latest episode of the Michigan Runner Girl podcast to give us all the details of this fall’s Holland Haven Marathon, Half Marathon and 8K, which is set for Sunday, Sept. 9.

He shares race details, including the opportunity to earn a “trifecta” medal and how the race gives back to the nonprofit Medals4Mettle. Eddie also shares news of his newest race directing endeavor – he decided this spring to hold a new race called the Backward Mile.

“Instead of being so serious about running a race, I want to create a fun, carefree environment. I want to make fun of myself, and have runners make fun of themselves, too. The event will be somewhat of a spoof about running. We will do everything we can think of backward in reverse order,” he says.

The Backward Mile, which will also include collecting medals from runners to donate to Medals4Mettle, is set for Tuesday, April 24 at Big E’s Sports Grill in Holland.

Special discount codes for both races:

Use the code RUN12MRG to save 12% off your Backward Mile registration. This code also will get you $12 (yep, 12 dollars) off your Holland Haven Marathon, Half Marathon or 8K race entry.

Sign up for the Holland Haven races here »

Sign up for the Backward Mile event here »

The Michigan Runner Girl Show is made possible in part by the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa

 If you enjoy what you're hearing on the Michigan Runner Girl show, we'd be so grateful if you'd take a few moments to write a review on iTunes. This will help more runners and Michigan lovers like yourself find the podcasts. Thank you!! Also, the quickest way to get the podcasts is to subscribe to the show via iTunes or via Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. 

A special thanks to Mike Moran, Mike Youker and Jonny Tornga of Quarter After Productions in Traverse City, Mich. for producing the show. Check out this studio's work here.

Mar 5, 2018

As Ragnar Relay Michigan gets ready to mark its third year in the Great Lakes State, an increasing number of runners are signing on for this 2-day, 200-ish-mile team running event that starts in Muskegon and ends in Traverse City. Team MRG participated in the inaugural Michigan race as well as last year’s event – and we’re planning to be there again this fall. It’s so fun meeting up with fellow Michigan Runner Girls and Guys – can’t wait to see you all there! {Be sure to use the special team discount code mentioned on the show to save $80 off your team race entry, if you haven’t yet signed up.}

On this episode, MRG sits downs with Ragnar Relay Michigan Race Director Troy Wheeler to talk about this September’s race, which is slated for Sept. 28-29. This year, race organizers expect about 285 teams to take part in the Michigan race. This is up from 240 last year and 120 the first year.

Troy, who served as race director last year as well, shares how a Ragnar Relay works, a few course changes for 2018, and tips for ensuring a successful and fun Ragnar experience with your teammates. He also shares a sweet story about how his own Ragnar racing experience led to true love.

Troy also welcomes any questions from listeners and readers. You can contact him at


Reebok Ragnar Relay Michigan, Sept. 28-29, is a magical combination of fall colors, sugar sand beaches, massive dunes and wild Ragnarians.

This 200-ish mile overnight adventure kicks off in the charming town Muskegon where teams run two days and one star-filled night, past historic ships and lighthouses, apple orchards, cherry blossoms and rolling hills.

No one starts Reebok Ragnar Michigan alone, and no one finishes alone either. A strengthened a team of 12 individuals becomes 1 team and finds out what they can do when they come together.

Fun hashtags to use if you’re racing and posting photos and videos from your adventure on social media:

#RagnarRelay, #innerWILD, #ChaseTheMoon, #ChaseTheSun #UnforgettableScenery #RagnarMichigan

Want more Ragnar? Check out these MRG posts and podcast episodes about this epic relay race:  

Feb 27, 2018

For more than 30 years, the Lake Michigan coastal town of Muskegon has welcomed runners for the annual Mercy Health Seaway Run. In recent years, some 3,000 runners have made this an early summer tradition. Race Director Andrew Buikema joins Heather on the show to talk about this year's race, takes place Saturday, June 23. New this year: a 10K race option in addition to the half marathon and 5K run/community walk. Andrew shares all the details of this year's event (including why the 15K is no longer around and the two places you'll get your post-race brew) and also talks about his own running plans this spring and summer (he's part of a pacing group for the Fifth Third Riverbank Run and is training for the Chicago Marathon).

Last year, Heather ran the half marathon along with friend Amy Keizer -- they were helping lead the 10-minute mile pace group. In addition, MRG had a booth at the Mercy Health Seaway Run Healthy Lifestyle Expo the day before the race. It ended up being a weekend getaway: Joe joined Heather for the expo (he also spectated the race the next day, by bike), and they spent Saturday and Sunday after the race exploring the area and checking out some great restaurants. 

A special race discount code also is mentioned during this episode.

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