Today was the Island Road Runners’ Memorial Day 5K/8K Run/Walk on Grosse Ile, Michigan. (That’s a mouthful, isn’t it?) I saw it advertised in the online version of the local paper a few weeks ago and thought this might be a chance to check out another venue for walking, so I signed up. The Island Runners are a group of Downriver area residents that formed a group of runners back in 1981 and this Memorial Day Race has been in existence for just as long. I understand there were between 500 to 600 participants in today’s event.
Grosse Ile is the biggest island in the Detroit River and accessible via a main bridge or toll bridge and also by boat. The whole island is only 9.6 miles (24.9 km).
We assembled at Grosse Ile High School on probably the most gorgeous day that we’ve seen in 2019. We enjoyed a flawless blue sky, brilliant sun and cool temps, about 60 degrees at race start time and no humidity or wind. With the exception of a few stragglers, we were all ready to go by 8:50 a.m.
After hearing the national anthem (including a few yowls from a white poodle at the high notes), then some comments from the race coordinator …
… the 5K Race/Walk began promptly at 9:00 a.m. and the 8K run followed five minutes later. The flag bearers marked the solemn remembrance of Memorial Day with huge flags, Old Glory and one representing the servicemen who are POWs/MIAs.
We headed down Grays Drive toward the Detroit River.
It was a conglomeration of runners and walkers, women pushing baby strollers, kids holding on to mom or dad’s hand … or holding their own by racing with the adults, and finally, a few dogs tagging along with their owners.
Along East River Road, which runs parallel to the River, there was plenty of police presence, including vehicles that blocked off all the streets where we walked. Officers and volunteers on bicycles rode alongside the shoreline, keeping pace with all of us. They were carrying boom boxes blaring music to get runners and walkers pumped up along this scenic trek.
The water at the river was sparkling and the occasional pleasure boat drifted by and its occupants gave us a wave. Some boats and docks were dormant awaiting more activity later perhaps.
The houses to our left were exquisite, with perfectly manicured lawns and beautiful landscaping. A few homeowners waved and shouted out words of encouragement as we passed their homes.
Next, we turned into a neighborhood, and it was very shady, which was already welcome as it had gotten warmish on the short walk along East River Road in the full sun. It seemed at every twist and turn along the way were well wishes shouting out “good job” or “doin’ great or “just a little bit further and you’ll have even more shade” … that was great news as the runners were already red-faced and looking a little exhausted, especially the ones who had donned the long-sleeved race shirts made for this event.
This guy and gal were wearing patriotic-looking duds.
These sweet young ladies were our “water girls” and eager to pass out tall cups of water.
And this young man had a bird’s eye view of the activities from a tree in the front yard.
At Meridian and Lowrie Roads, with barely a mile left in the race, a classic car caught my eye. It was parked alongside a few more well wishers, one of them waving an American flag. Now I wouldn’t necessarily recognize a Plymouth Road Runner at first glance, but a few things gave me a clue here as you see below:
You might remember the Road Runner cartoon character from Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner? Perhaps this car was the mascot for the Island Road Runners who have a Road Runner logo too. I stopped to visit with Paul, who has owned this car since 1976 when he graduated from high school.
I didn’t want to linger as we were smack in the middle of the sun and it was getting warmer by the minute, so I rounded the corner onto Grays Drive for the last leg of the journey.
As we neared the end, people lined up to either clap or say “good going” or something similar and to tell us “the end is near” which made me wonder if we all looked that weary? The 8K runners were coming in the same time as me, but I had meandered along, taking it all in and taking photos for this post. As with prior 5Ks I am more interested in the ambiance than getting a good race result (good thing because I came in at 1 hour and 10 minutes for my official time – yikes!)
There was a medals ceremony and refreshments, and an announcement of where our registration fees were donated (various Grosse Ile schools and Special Olympics), then the event was over. To garner some additional steps, I left the car at the High School and went up to the River and strolled along East River Road to get a few more miles in. I enjoyed this beautiful weather day, especially as we have storms rolling in tonight around 9:00 p.m. and the rainy/stormy days will continue through Thursday.
I’ll leave you with this quote:
[Island Road Runners Logo from their Facebook Page]