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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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.

Feb 12, 2018

We’ve all been told that regularly getting enough high-quality sleep is essential to running our best – and to living well overall. (That feeling of slogging through a day super tired, when there’s not enough coffee in the world to help? Pretty awful.)

In an article about sleep and exercise on, we’re told that while we sleep, hormones such as human growth hormone (HGH) that help us recover from training are released. On the flip side, when we don’t get enough sleep, levels of the stress hormone cortisol and the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein stay elevated, cutting into our ability to recover. Poor sleep also throws off the hormones related to appetite regulation, which could lead to weight gain.

OK, so we know all of this. And yet…how many of us truly make sleep a priority? It’s something I’m continually working on, and I figured I’m far from alone. In fact, when I mentioned sleep on the Michigan Runner Girl Facebook page recently, I heard from fellow runners that sleep is a big deal and not always getting the attention it should in their lives. I also heard from a few of you who always get the recommended seven to nine hours a sleep each night, which impressed and inspired me.

 On the latest episode of the Michigan Runner Girl podcast, I have a great conversation with Dr. David Walker, DO, a board-certified sleep medicine specialist at the Munson Healthcare Sleep Disorders Clinic here in Traverse City, Mich. We talk about the importance of sleep, night owls vs. early risers, how lack of sleep affects our running performance and everyday activities, common sleep issues, and the ways we may be sabotaging our sleep (drinking that glass of wine or pint of beer, and being on our devices, too close to bedtime). Dr. Walker also talks about how a “sleep diary” can make a difference, sleep aids that are OK (and the ones to possibly avoid), and why the quality of sleep is most important when looking at our sleep routines. I also couldn’t resist asking him about dreams (I have vivid ones most every night) and what they may mean.

 Dr. Walker says the National Sleep Foundation site is a great resource. Here’s what the Foundation found about sleep and exercise in their 2013 Sleep in America poll:

Self-described exercisers report better sleep than self-described non-exercisers even though they say they sleep the same amount each night (6 hours and 51 minutes, average on weeknights). Vigorous, moderate and light*exercisers are significantly more likely to say “I had a good night’s sleep” every night or almost every night on work nights than non-exercisers (67%-56% vs. 39%). Also, more than three-fourths of exercisers (76%-83%) say their sleep quality was very good or fairly good in the past two weeks, compared to slightly more than one-half of non-exercisers (56%).

“If you are inactive, adding a 10 minute walk every day could improve your likelihood of a good night’s sleep,” says Max Hirshkowitz, PhD, poll task force chair. “Making this small change and gradually working your way up to more intense activities like running or swimming could help you sleep better.”

“Our poll data certainly find strong relationships between good sleep and exercise,” adds Hirshkowitz. “While cause and effect can be tricky, I don’t think having good sleep necessarily compels us to exercise. I think it is much more likely that exercising improves sleep. And good sleep is fundamental for good health, productivity, and happiness.” 



National Sleep Foundation:

Munson Healthcare Sleep Disorders Clinic:

Feb 7, 2018

Marathon training is well underway for Heather and her daughter Emma (who is training for her first 26.2, the Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City, Mich.), and they sit down to share how things are going so far. Also joining them: special guest…Heather’s husband and Emma’s dad, Joe, who is planning to run the 10K at this Memorial Day weekend’s Bayshore races. What happens when parents and their 17-year-old daughter get together to record a podcast? Plenty of laughs, a little good-natured family ribbing, and even some backstory on the first time Heather and Joe ever ran together, back in the summer of 1996. (Let’s just say it didn’t go so well.) Heather and Emma talk about the marathon plan they’re following (a plan from friends Sarah and Dimity of, the YouTube Channel they started to chronicle their training (check it out and please subscribe if you’re interested in following along!), how Emma’s plant-based eating is working with her running, and how Joe has gotten into a groove of early-morning running (and why he doesn’t like to eat anything before he heads out for a few miles). The trio also talks about spring break and summer plans – and how they’ll be incorporating running, exploring, and staying active as much as possible.


Bayshore Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K:

Another Mother Runner:

Michigan Runner Girl YouTube Channel:

Jan 16, 2018

It's a new year (welcome to the first MRG show of 2018!) and you just may have a big goal race on your race calendar this year. Maybe you're going to tackle your first half marathon. Or you've decided to see what you've got in the marathon distance. MRG welcomes three Michigan runners (one of them a longtime coach) to the show to talk about the allure of distance running and racing. Eric Hansen and Candice Hamel both began running within the past four or so years. Their stories are quite different — Eric, who lost 100 pounds through running, has taken on just about every distance plus ventured into triathlon and finished an Ironman, while Candice has found a love for half marathons and acknowledges she's felt reluctant to say the words 'I am a runner' — but they both share how the sport and the friendships they've formed through running have been life-changing. Eric and Candice both are members of the Traverse City Track Club and are serving as mentors in a newer training program — Bayshore and More Training Program — offered through this northern Michigan running and walking club. Lisa Taylor, who has been on the show several times in the past, joins the conversation and offers her racing and training insight as a longtime coach, runner, and executive director of the Traverse City Track Club. 

Heather also shares her own marathon training plans for 2018 — she is about to begin training for her 5th Bayshore Marathon (9th marathon overall) with her daughter Emma, who is taking on her very first marathon this spring. An upcoming episode will highlight their training plans (and new YouTube Channel!)

Listen in to get inspired for running and racing in 2018 — no matter your distance or goal. These runners will definitely leave you feeling motivated to make 2018 your best running year yet.

Traverse City Track Club:

Nov 20, 2017

Maia Turek, a.k.a. the Michigan state parks guru, is back on the Michigan Runner Girl Show, this time to talk about ways we can enjoy our 103 state parks all winter long. From lantern-lit snowshoe excursions and "owl prowls," to DIY events like make your own snowshoes and special hiking and cross country skiing opportunities at cool spots (even a lighthouse!), there are lots of ways to explore outdoors, embrace the snow and cold, and feel strong and happy throughout the season. Indoor events throughout Michigan also are mentioned. Maia, who is the statewide recreation programmer for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, also shares news of awesome merchandise partnerships the DNR now has with two Michigan-based companies (and what that means for state park visitors like us). Heather and Maia also talk about the #OptOutside movement this coming Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. For a second year, Michigan State Parks are following the lead of outdoor company REI in embracing this hashtag—and they're encouraging us to do the same. This Friday, Nov. 24, choose to #OptOutside with free admission to all Michigan State Parks.  

Here's more about #OptOutside:

Residents and visitors are encouraged to put away leftovers and #OptOutside as part of their day-after-Thanksgiving traditions. To encourage folks to tap into Michigan's great outdoors and gather with friends and family, on Friday, Nov. 24, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will waive the regular Recreation Passport entry fee that enables vehicle access to Michigan state parks, trails and boating access sites.

Exploring some of Michigan's best outdoor destinations is a great way to recover from holiday shopping excursions, burn off some of those Thanksgiving calories and enjoy the many benefits of nature.

"In Michigan, you’re never more than a half-hour away from a state park, recreation area, state forest campground or state trail," said Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation Division chief. "#OptOutside is an invitation to residents and those traveling to spend time outside during the holiday weekend and help continue or build new Thanksgiving traditions. The DNR hopes the free entry opportunity will encourage residents and visitors to explore new places and experience the outdoors' many physical, mental and social benefits."

There are plenty of ideas to incorporate into popular day-after-Thanksgiving traditions, including opportunities to:

  • Find a new mile to hike or run on one of more than 12,500 miles of state-designated trails.
  • Cast a line in a state park and put fishing on your Friday festivities menu.
  • Try mountain biking.
  • Jump on the Iron Belle Trail - the longest designated state trail in the nation - and crisscross more than half of Michigan’s counties along both hiking and biking routes.
  • Find a new hunting spot by exploring one of Michigan's vast recreation areas.
  • Enjoy the peace and quiet of camping in the off-season.
  • Download a geocaching app and take part in an outdoor treasure hunting game that utilizes GPS-enabled devices.
  • Seek out historical markers and learn a little bit more about Michigan’s backstory.
  • Make a bird-watching scavenger hunt for kids and start a list of the birds you spot.

"The holidays can get hectic with added obligations, no matter how happy or anticipated they may be," said Olson. "Our #OptOutside promotion is an opportunity for folks to take a deep breath of fresh air, share an experience with your favorite people and make some great holiday memories."

Although the Recreation Passport vehicle entry fee into 103 Michigan state parks, 138 state forest campgrounds and parking for hundreds of miles of trails and fee-based boat launches is waived Nov. 24, camping and other permit and license fees still apply.

Interested in learning more about things to do and places to visit? Visit the DNR website at to learn more about fishing, hunting, forest land, state parks and much more. To search for a list of Michigan state parks, rustic state forest campgrounds, state-designated trails and associated activities and amenities, visit Interested in the Recreation Passport and how it helps Michigan state parks, trails and waterways? Visit

The #OptOutside movement was started by outdoor recreation cooperative REI Inc. in 2015 to encourage people to spend time outdoors on Black Friday. For the third year in a row, the Michigan DNR has encouraged people to utilize the outdoors as part of their Thanksgiving weekend celebrations.

Nov 7, 2017

"I feel a little tougher." Can you relate to this feeling, when you've laced up your running shoes and headed out the door for a run in the cold and snow? Finishing a run in the winter, especially when we've pushed ourselves to get outside, indeed can offer a certain kind of sweet satisfaction. This is what Heather and frequent guest Cassy Stone talk about during this episode that focuses on staying motivated once the temperatures dip, the days get shorter, and getting out of a warm bed to exercise can prove especially challenging. Cassy and Heather also share what Michigan Runner Girl readers and listeners think about winter running. (Thanks, everyone, for the great conversation about winter running on the MRG Facebook page last week!) From smart gear to wear—"there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choices"—to the importance of having running friends to join you to the power of signing up for winter races, Cassy and Heather cover all aspects of staying inspired to keep moving over the next several months. 

Be sure to check out the MRG Winter Running Guide on here >>

Oct 2, 2017

When Heather began her running journey about 10 years ago, she admittedly knew little about the sport, from what to wear and fuel with during a race, to an understanding of how women had only in recent history made strides in running and been recognized for their achievements. All she knew was that the more she ran, the better she felt about herself. Over time, as she ran with other women, created new friendships within the awesome running community, and ultimately realized logging miles and living healthy had become a lifestyle, she found she couldn’t get enough of learning anything and everything about running—especially distance running. She would eventually discover that 26.2 miles held a special place in her heart. Incredibly challenging and uniquely rewarding, both in training and in finishing, the marathon is a distance she keeps coming back to. For this reason, she devoured the book Marathon Woman by Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon in 1967. This decision infuriated one of the race directors, who tried to physically remove Kathrine from the race because she was a female running in what was then considered an all-male event. The images of her struggle to continue running, helped by male runners, have become iconic in the history of sports and women. First published in 2007, Marathon Woman is Kathrine’s personal story of how she overcame the odds—as well as prejudice and ridicule (not only from the male quarter)—to become one of the leading marathon runners of her time. Inspired by the incident, she went on to run thirty-nine marathons—winning the New York City Marathon in 1974—and helped secure the women’s marathon as an event in the Olympic Games.

Kathrine has gone on to accomplish so much on behalf of our sport and women everywhere. Kathrine joins Heather on this episode of the Michigan Runner Girl show. Heather also has another strong and amazing woman joining the conversation, to share her connection with Kathrine and Kathrine’s new non-profit 261 Fearless. Marathoner and Michigan runner Leah Doriot talks about her upcoming NYC Marathon and why it was important for her to join team 261 Fearless. 

Kathrine is leading a group of 13 dedicated “261 Fearless” runners, including 11 from the USA (seven different States), and one each from Belgium and Switzerland at this fall's NYC Marathon. The women will all be raising $5,261 each to benefit the formation of 261 Fearless running clubs for women all over the world and their participation will be supported by adidas and Bose, global sponsors for 261 Fearless.

Learn more:

On April 17, 2017, 50 years after her historic run, Switzer pinned on her original bib number 261, and ran the Boston Marathon again, to pay tribute to the streets of the city where the place of women in the world of sports was redefined forever.

Kathrine Switzer will run the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon on November 5, posting another amazing milestone in her legendary long-distance running career by competing in both the upcoming TCS New York City Marathon and this past April’s 121st running of the Boston Marathon in her fifth decade of competitive running.

261 Fearless, Inc. is a global non-profit organization founded by pioneer runner, Kathrine Switzer. 261 Fearless uses running as a vehicle to empower and unite women globally through the creation of local clubs, education opportunities, communication platform, merchandising and events. Through these networking opportunities, 261 Fearless breaks down the barriers of geography and creates a global community for women runners of all abilities to support and talk to each other, encouraging healthy living and a positive sense of self and fearlessness. 


Sep 5, 2017

Fall race season is upon us, and Heather kicks off autumn (yay for cooler weather!) with a summer re-cap/fall preview show with special guest Emma Durocher, her 17-year-old daughter. Emma, who is in the midst of her final high school cross country season, shares how she got started in the sport, the reasons she gave it up for awhile, and why she later decided to pursue longer distances (she’s completed four half marathons in the past year and a half!) in addition to her year-round cross country training. Heather and Emma have an honest discussion about running as a family (and how, realistically, kids aren’t necessarily going to want to always run with mom and dad). Emma also talks about what running has come to mean to her— “In places in my life where I didn’t have a lot of friends or was sad, I would turn to running ... It’s just something where I just do it and feel so much better after, like something has been lifted off my shoulders. [That feeling] doesn’t always happen during the run … but I guess just using it as a tool to be a better person, that’s always how it’s helped me.” She also shares thoughts on those early miles of a run: “When I am out on a long run, it’s always around this mark, 2.66, when I think that’s enough for me. But once I get past that, for me, I feel super strong and I think, ‘Ok, I can do this.’ I think in every run, there’s a hump to get over.”

Also during this episode, Heather and Emma talk about their family trip to the Porcupine Mountains this summer and their upcoming mom-daughter tradition of attending the American Home Fitness Detroit Women’s Half Marathon, 10K & 5K on Belle Isle in Detroit. This year’s race weekend is Sept. 16-17. Heather and Emma have run the half marathon there together in the past and this year will take on the 10K. Speaking of race weekend, the Expotique is Saturday, Sept. 16 and MRG will again have a booth—stop by to say hello and check out all-new Michigan Runner Girl fall apparel. These items can be found at the online store, too. Shop here.

Aug 21, 2017

From an early age, Hunter Kemper dreamt of one day competing against the very best athletes in the world.

“Ever since I was a little kid—8 years old to be exact—I’ve wanted to be an Olympian. Growing up, I loved watching athletes from the USA compete against the best in the world on the biggest stage in the world. I had a hat that read ‘Goin For Gold’ which I wore everywhere.  The Olympic flame, the American anthem, the Opening Ceremonies, the medals, the pageantry, the country flags, the world records—I loved it all.”

Hunter realized he had a talent for swimming, cycling—he competed in his first triathlon at age 10 and won his age division race—and would go on to run in high school as well as on the collegiate level before eventually going pro as a triathlete. While on the cross country team at Wake Forest University, Hunter took what had been his weakest discipline in triathlon and turned it into his strongest.

“It was my favorite—it still is—of the triathlon,” he says. “I had four years [in college] of great coaching and great workouts and great athletes and teammates who pushed me to be a better runner … I was surrounded by people who were way better runners than me. And I learned from them.”

He also learned the importance of training in what he calls “the black and white zone,” rather than a gray one. This is something he feels every athlete-in-training can and should try to do.

“On your hard days, really take them seriously, and then on your easy days, go really easy. That was one thing I really held onto.”

Hunter, a 4-time Olympian and 7-time U.S. Elite National Champion, is returning to the Boyne City Triathlon, which marks its 5th year this Labor Day weekend. He inspired last year’s participants with a pre-race talk and handed out race medals at the finish. A race discount code for this race is shared during the show. (There's still time to sign on for this Sunday, Sept. 3 race, which includes Olympic and sprint distances as well as relay and duathlon options.)

During this episode, Hunter talks about his Olympic dreams realized (along with the heartaches he has experienced throughout), and what he plans to do as a soon-to-be-retired professional triathlete. He’s not only incredibly talented as an athlete, he’s also kind and hilarious. He really gets Heather laughing during the show, as they talk about Heather's own triathlon experiences and also his impressive journey as an athlete and father of four young children with his wife Val (who also is a talented athlete).

Hunter is the most decorated U.S. triathlete in history. A four-time member of the USA Olympic triathlon team, he is one of only two men in the world to qualify for every Olympic triathlon (2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012).


Hunter Kemper:

Boyne City Triathlon: 

Aug 14, 2017

When Heather met west Michigan runner Vicki Kavanaugh at this summer's Mercy Health Seaway Run and Lake Michigan Half Marathon—Vicki stopped by the Michigan Runner Girl booth at this Muskegon race's expo and introduced herself—Heather knew she had to have Vicki on the podcast. Vicki is involved with Total Trek Quest, a program that assists third-, fourth- and fifth-grade boys in learning to run a 5K. More than 100 volunteer coaches facilitate 36 practices with these boys to prepare them for the race. But this program is more than simply an after-school get-your-body moving-activity. The program  focuses on goal-setting, physical activity, teamwork and building confidence in saying no to underage use of substances and yes to healthy life choices. Early prevention efforts are critical among this age group, Vicki shares. According to the 2015 Youth Assessment Survey (YAS) of Ottawa County, Michigan 8th, 10th and 12th grade students, a significant number tried smoking, inhalants, and/or alcohol before the age of 14. Among youth who have used alcohol, 25% had their first drink before age 13. 

This fall, Total Trek Quest will be in four counties in the Grand Rapids area—Kent County is the latest addition—and the fall season (there are programs in the fall and in the spring) kicks off Sept. 11. It's now in its 12th season; it began in Ottawa County.

Vicki, whose children are ages 24 and 20, shares her own running journey with Heather as well; she started running with the encouragement of her college roommate. She's a former longtime Gazelle Sports employee who has worked with hundreds of runners in Gazelle's training programs. She now serves as youth development specialist with Pathways in Holland, which is the organization through which Total Trek Quest operates. 


Aug 8, 2017
Episode #103: Julie Millen on running for others and logging 100 miles during Detroit Free Press Marathon weekend this October
This October, during Detroit Free Press Marathon weekend Oct. 14-15, ultra runner and mom of five Julie Millen will take on her second 100-mile run—the Joules Athletics Warrior 100 Mile Run and Relay—to help raise funds for Brayden Trombley, an 8-year-old Mt. Pleasant, Mich. boy who has leukemia. This is not the first time (and definitely won't be the last) Julie is running for someone else. Spend any amount of time with Julie, a native Michigander now living in Houston, Texas, and you'll quickly realize how kind and giving—and humble—she is, not only as a runner, but as a human being. Her love of helping others is infectious and inspiring. She joins Heather in the studio—she and her family were vacationing in nearby Northport, Mich. this past month—to talk about the upcoming October run, which is totally self-supported and will coincide with the Detroit Free Press Marathon and Half Marathon. This is how it'll work (and anyone interested can join): A "base camp" will be at Brew Detroit, and runners will complete approximately 80 miles by running a 3/4 mile loop. Runners will leave Brew Detroit at 5 a.m. on Oct. 15 to run to the start of the Detroit Free Press Marathon and Half Marathon to complete the rest of the race. All solo runners and one relay runner must register for either the Detroit Free Press full or half marathon to complete the 100 mile run. Julie shares with Heather how she got started running, why Detroit will always be home to her, why going long (really long!) speaks to her heart, why she feels it's important to run for others, the individuals who have impacted her running journey, and so much more. In addition to running and raising a family, Julie also is the founder of a women's athletic clothing company, Joules Athletics. 
Heather Johnson Durocher
Writer/Editor/Publisher/Podcast Host
Michigan Runner Girl ~ In a state of motion
3270 Autumn Leaf Drive
Traverse City, Michigan 49686
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Twitter: @michrunnergirl
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Jul 25, 2017

Heather catches up with two race directors of September events for this special Michigan fall race preview episode. First up: Kyle Cutler, race director of the 16th annual Lake Michigan Credit Union Bridge Run on Sunday, Sept. 17 in downtown Grand Rapids. This race features a 10 Mile and a 5K run/walk. Kyle is a marathoner and member of Run GR, the local running group that organizes the Bridge Run. Along with talking about why the Bridge Run is known as a "must-do race" in the Mitten State, Kyle shares a race discount code for MRG readers and listeners. In the second half of the show, Heather talks with Mary Culbertson, race director of the American Home Fitness Detroit Women's Half Marathon, 10K & 5K on Sunday, Sept. 17 on Belle Isle in Detroit. This is the fifth anniversary of this all-female race, and organizers are celebrating with a new Expotique location—in the Detroit Boathouse on Belle Isle—and a Saturday evening dinner cruise (which Heather will be a part of as well). Mary also shares details on this year's finisher medals, lodging specials during race weekend and the cool bling runners of both the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon and the Detroit Women's Half Marathon will receive. A race discount code also is mentioned during the show. 

May 11, 2016

Episode #41: Vineyard to Bay 25K, two-person 15K/10K relay & 5K in Suttons Bay

Ross Deye, founder of the Vineyard to Bay 25K, two-person 15K/10K relay and 5K, joins Heather in the studio to talk about his popular summer race (he shares a race discount code, too). Deye, a longtime track & field and cross country coach in Ohio and Michigan, started this Suttons Bay race a few years ago, with this year's event taking place Sunday, Aug. 28. 25K runners start at a winery, with the race ending at Lake Michigan in Suttons Bay. Runners can choose to run the entire 25K themselves -- Ross and Heather talk about why he chose this 15.5 mile distance -- or split it up as a relay (one runner takes on the 15K, while the other runs 10K). The 5K is also an option. Ross says the course is incredibly scenic. "First and foremost I think it offers a variety of looks throughout the race -- you have the six vineyards which are beautiful in the late summer/early fall and you have a great view of Grand Traverse Bay when descending Hill Top Road and again once you finish," Ross says. "Nearly half the 25K is on the Leelanau Trail, which is a nice change of pace from just running roads." There's also variety in how far participants choose to run. "We are trying to provide something for everyone without it being too much of an organizational issue and I think we've accomplished that." Post-race activities and awards also are covered during the show. 
Mar 23, 2016

The BIG Little Hero Race, a 10K/5K/free kids fun run organized by business students at Northwestern Michigan College, is back for its second year this spring. On today's show, Heather talks with Race Director Kyle Brownley, business professor (and runner) Kristy McDonald and students-turned-race-organizers Nicole Trine-Koewers and Justin Brown about the April 16 race. Tony Anderson, a northern Michigan marathoner and passionate advocate for children, also joins the conversation. Last year's event raised more than $8,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan. The race started last year as a service project for students taking Kristy's business communications class. The event was such a success that it's become an annual tradition, helping the students gain real-world experience helping give back to their community. This is a super hero-themed race taking place at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City. Heather and her family are planning to run this one together. Join the fun on Saturday, April 16. (Free capes will be given to all kids!) 


BIG Little Hero Race site: 

Registration site:

Blog post on MRG about this year's event:

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan:


Mar 2, 2016

Episode #31: The Pure Michigan FITness Series

Log miles at races throughout the state and get cool swag like a hoodie, water bottle, medal, even the chance to win a trip up to the top of the Mackinac Bridge -- what's not to like about that? Heather gets the lowdown on the Pure Michigan FITness Series, offered through the Michigan Fitness Foundation, when she has Lansing runner Michelle Coss on the show. MIchelle, who is is training for this spring's Bayshore Half Marathon, is the event director at the Michigan Fitness Foundation, where she focuses on the Labor Day Bridge Run, the Governor's Fitness Awards, the Pure Michigan FITness Series and the Auto Show 5K in Detroit. She also directs Lansing's only marathon, the Capital City River Run. Michelle and Heather talk about the numerous races throughout the state that are part of the FITness Series -- these are endorsed by the Foundation and are local, regional and state events consistent with the Governor’s Council mission to promote healthy choices, while offering a physical activity event open to all participants, regardless of skill level or age. What this means for all of us: when we participate in these events, we can join, for free, the Pure Michigan FITness Challenge Series and start earning cool stuff. A searchable event calendar of these races is available at -- you can be a runner or a volunteer at any of these races to earn points.
Also in this episode: an inspiring story of a South Haven runner who overcame a traumatic brain injury and ran her first 5K. Listeners are encouraged to send in their own inspiring stories to Heather at
Nov 19, 2015

'Healthy Chef' Ali Lopez on eating smart + running well

Our food should be good for us and taste great, too, says Ali Lopez, a Michigan runner, chef and health coach who talks with Heather about tasty ways to fuel up smart and get the most out of your running. She shares her favorite go-to snacks and meals, including what she recommends pre-race as well as post-run. Ali also shares her most recent marathon experience -- this fall's Grand Rapids Marathon -- and her big accomplishment at this race (hint: she reached a long-held, somewhat elusive goal. Her dedication and perseverance is sure to inspire you and your own running, no matter your race goals.) Ali, who moved to Michigan about a year ago from the East Coast, also offers up simple, easy and convenient ways to enjoy great and healthy food that ultimately will help your running.
Look for Ali Lopez on Facebook by searching for Healthy Chef Ali. 


Aug 27, 2015
Northern Michigan personal trainer Pam Carrigan (and one of Heather's running partners) shares her Michigan running story in this episode. From triathlons and 10Ks to half marathons and helping other runners reach their fitness goals, Pam explains how she enjoys an active and healthy life herself, and inspires others to do the same. She also offers up fitness tips for staying in top running form (warning: you just might get into plank position while listening to this show). Listeners will remember Pam from the very first Michigan Runner Girl podcast about running on Grand Island -- she and her family also made the trek north to participate in the half marathon and camp in Munising -- and she'll be back as a co-host in upcoming episodes.


Aug 19, 2015
Heather Durocher catches up with runner, triathlete, Ironman finisher and race director Joel Gaff in this episode. Joel, founder of race management and timing services company Endurance Evolution, talks about the northern Michigan events he puts on throughout the year, including the Traverse City Trail Running Festival in April, Glen Arbor Solstice Half Marathon & 5K in June, Traverse City Triathlon in August and the upcoming Sleeping Bear Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K set for Oct. 3, 2015 in Empire, Mich. There are some exciting changes to this fall event, which Joel details for listeners.
The Michigan Runner Girl Podcast is brought to you by Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, located in Acme, Michigan just minutes away from downtown Traverse City. Home of the Great Beerd Run a 5k fun run and the Star, Stripes, and Splatter color run, Grand Traverse Resort is the place to stay to keep active and enjoy the best that Northern Michigan has to offer. 

Their conversation also covers Joel's recent decision to spend time in another beautiful and runner-friendly area of the country -- Portland, Ore. -- and how he's taking what he's learning from that city's racing scene and bringing it back to all that he's doing here in Michigan. Heather and Joel chat about the importance of downtime and breaks from training and racing, and what's next for Joel in the coming months. (Hint: the Ironman distance is calling his name again ...)

The Michigan Runner Girl Podcast is hosted by Heather Durocher. The podcast is edited by Kalin Brehler and produced by Mike Moran of Quarter After Productions


Aug 12, 2015

Join Heather Durocher and three of her running friends -- Pam Carrigan, Erin Henshaw and Katie Kearney -- as they talk about this year's Grand Island Marathon and Half Marathon in the U.P. They traveled north from Traverse City for this race, which takes place each July on Grand Island in Munising. The trip was a chance to check out this scenic trail race as well as enjoy the area with their families. They all stayed at the Munising Tourist Park Campground on the shores of Lake Superior with a view of the island. Stand-up paddleboarding, swimming and mountain biking also were part of the weekend (a summer storm also made an appearance the night before the race, which actually helped make for pretty ideal conditions out on the trail.)

The Michigan Runner Girl Podcast is brought to you by Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, located in Acme, Michigan just minutes away from downtown Traverse City. Home of the Great Beerd Run a 5k fun run and the Star, Stripes, and Splatter color run, Grand Traverse Resort is the place to stay to keep active and enjoy the best that Northern Michigan has to offer. 

Later in the show Heather interviews race director Jeff Crumbaugh of Great Lakes Endurance. His race management company is behind a number of trail runs throughout the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin, so he talks not only about the Grand Island race but also others popular among Midwest runners. He also shares how Great Lakes Endurance is committed to eco-friendly race events and providing runners with delicious, locally-sourced post-race food and drink.

This episode kicks off the Michigan Runner Girl podcast, a show about all things running and living healthy and happy in the Mitten.

The Michigan Runner Girl Podcast was hosted by Heather Durocher and produced and edited by Mike Moran of Quarter After Productions in Traverse City. 

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