We’re all missing our summer races -- races that may have become annual traditions for us, with our family and friends. Thankfully, a few of these events have gone virtual, allowing us to still support our favorite races (and receive race bling!) by running the distance on our own. And in some cases, all-new virtual races are popping up, providing even more opportunities to keep running and racing all summer long. The Michigan Harvest Challenge, a virtual run series celebrating the harvest seasons of famous local crops, is one of these -- and even carries on into the fall.
Race organizers Kat Paye and Alex Zelinski join Heather to talk about this run series, which allows runners and walkers to participate in four different runs. The most popular option? Take on all four events -- these Harvest Challenge spots are capped at 500. Kat and Alex also give an update on the longstanding Festival of Races, which normally take place each July during the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City. As of today, these races tentatively are set for Sept. 13.
The National Cherry Festival Foundation, which is behind northern Michigan events including the National Cherry Festival (canceled this July because of the pandemic), Iceman Cometh Challenge mountain bike race in November, and Leapin’ Leprechaun in March, is launching this virtual run series. The event is open July 15 through October 31 online and allows runners and walkers to choose from races including the Cherry Run, Apple Dash, Hop Trot, and Grape Stomp. Participants can also sign up for the Harvest Challenge and complete all four races.
Each individual race participant will receive a themed t-shirt for their race, a finisher’s pin and other goods. Harvest Challenge participants will receive a Finisher’s Medal, a pin for each race, a special Challenge-only t-shirt, and other race bag goodies. In addition, each participant that logs their virtual run time will be eligible for a door prize. Door prizes will be drawn one week after the conclusion of each race.
“We spend our whole year finding the best way to celebrate cherries, we thought why not celebrate some of the other amazing crops our state produces as well,” says Kat, who serves as National Cherry Festival Executive Director.
The Festival Foundation will also be collecting donations for the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (GTRLC) as part of the event with a goal of raising $10,000. The goal can be reached if every participant makes a minimum $3 donation. Registration and other race information is online here.
The Michigan Harvest Challenge Run Series is sponsored by Sam’s Club. Learn more and register here.
Two work-from-home parents, two sweet young daughters, one treadmill (often used late at night), several family hikes, and one visiting chicken—yes, a real one.
This is a snapshot of Kelly Yauk’s pandemic quarantine life these past few months. You’ll remember Kelly as the hilarious guest who has talked on the show in the past about her passion for themed runs and destination racing adventures. Kelly also has been a Team MRG Ragnar Relay member and during last fall’s road edition formed a team made up of her former Michigan State University rowing teammates.
Kelly, who is a marketing manager at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, shares what life has been like while juggling a full-time job that’s gone remote with full-on parenting duties with her real estate agent and writer husband Chris, who also has been working from their Traverse City home. Kelly has had to get creative with her workout schedule, too. Thankfully, she’s always enjoyed her treadmill – these days, she finds herself squeezing in the miles later at night. She shares the races she won’t be running this summer and early fall because of COVID-19, but she says plans are moving ahead with this November’s annual Great Beerd Run, now in its 7th year, at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. This event coincides with Traverse City Beer Week.
As for the visiting chicken … she, of course, has a funny story about that.
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A special thanks to Mike Moran, Mike Youker and Jonny Tornga of Quarter After Productions in Traverse City, Mich. for producing the show.
In case you missed it, we recently announced on the Michigan Runner Girl Facebook page a new MRG series, “Ask Healthy Chef Ali,” which features northern Michigan chef and MRG contributor Ali Lopez answering our top food questions. During today’s show, she answers a few of them that have come in so far – ideas for healthy and tasty post-run fuel, mid-run treats, and more – and she’ll continue sharing her culinary wisdom on future episodes.
Heather also checks in with Ali to see how life has changed for her during the pandemic, both with her work as a personal chef and culinary instructor, and with her ultrarunning race training. Ali acknowledged that the initial weeks of COVID-19 and the quarantine were rough. In more recent time, she’s feeling more like herself. Ali also found motivation in helping fellow runners – she tells some great stories about creating race routes for her friends who were bummed about not getting to run a race because it had been canceled or postponed. She also helped a local runner tackle an epic ultrarun on M-22, starting in Manistee and ending in Traverse City.
“It felt like after a month and a half, all of a sudden I could feel kind myself coming alive again. It felt like, OK, I have gotten over this, this feeling like you’re in this stuck place,” she says. “And then trying to move forward, try new things and get a little more motivated to do something different. A lot of it, too, is training-wise. I didn’t have as much work so I could train more. But then all the races got cancelled. So, what am I training for? At the beginning, it was kind of weird. But a couple of weeks ago, I thought, this is great. I am still running, I am still staying active. But because I don’t have a specific [race] date, it just feels like I can do whatever I want. The scheduled part of it is kind of nice, that it’s lightened up.”
Ali's most recent blog posts on MRG:
What Does a Chef Eat During a Pandemic?
Stocked Up with Cans of Beans? 7 Delicious Ways to Enjoy 'Em
Eat Smart, Run Well