August just wouldn’t be the same for Wendy Currie if she didn’t run the Vineyard to Bay race in Suttons Bay, Mich.

“I’ve run this race since its inception and I’d be sad if I missed a year,” she says. “I’ve done the 25K two times and the relay one time. I’m looking forward to it again this year for sure.”

This “big-time race with the small-town feel” keeps her coming back, she has told Race Director Ross Deye. Wendy, who lives in Shepherd, Mich., recalls feeling grateful for his extra efforts in “making me feel so at home with this race.”

“He knows me and always greets me by name … Seriously, no other race director does that,” she says.

The Vineyard to Bay 25K, 15K/10K relay and 5K Run/Walk takes place Sunday, August 27 this year. {Get your discount code for this race at the end of this post}

Wendy Currie

“V2B is a well-organized race. Ross puts a lot of thought into the organization of this race from start to finish.  He and Nancy do a fantastic job,” Wendy says. “It’s the scenery—hands down. Absolutely breathtaking in spots. Makes you not mind those hills so much!”

Traverse City runner Megan Graverson says the 25K is her favorite.

It’s beautiful, challenging, and you get a homemade finisher art that is a Sporck tile art,” she says. “The 5K also gives out finisher medals. I’m doing the 5K this year because I’m doing a race the day before but plan to do the 25k again next year.”

“The race takes you through a beautiful scenery of Leelanau county with most of it being on the Leelanau TART trail,” Megan says. “The 25K does have some challenging hills, but the majority of the race is relatively flat. The 5K is slightly downhill all the way and a good race to try to PR.

Megan Graverson.

A few tips from Wendy and Megan for runners who are participating in their first Vineyard to Bay:

  • Take it all in. Enjoy the moment. Absorb the energy from all the other runners and spectators.
  • Do some hill training as there are some hills in the 25K: “I knew there were going to be hills in this course, but still went out too fast and ended up walking up the hills,” Megan says.

MRG checked in with the race director, Ross Deye, to hear how things are shaping up with this year’s Vineyard to Bay. Here’s what he had to say:

This is the fourth annual Vineyard to Bay 25k. How has it evolved since the first year? How are things shaping up for this year’s event?   

Well, I’m happy to say it’s grown every year! Plus, entries for this year are well ahead of last year, so that is encouraging. We’ve tweaked the course somewhat since the first year to end closer to the bay and have upgraded our all-finishers awards, which seem to be very popular with the runners. Plus, we’ve upgraded to RFID chip timing and is now USATF certified.

What can runners expect this year — anything new or different?  

Most of what is new this year involves post-race activities. We’ve added a raffle, two actually, to encourage participants to stick around for the award ceremony. One raffle will take place immediately following the 5K awards at 9:30 a.m., and the second raffle after the 25K & relay awards at 11 a.m. We already have some very nice items for our raffles, including gift certificates to Suttons Bay restaurants and wineries and cherry pies from Chimoski Bakery! We will also be presenting awards with a podium for the time, so there are better photo opportunities for award winners. We are adding to our selection of post-race food items, including a cheese spread from Leelanau Cheese. Finally, we are in talks to have a local radio station provide post-race music to liven things up a bit.

Incorporating local businesses, such as finisher medals from a local artist, is important to you and to the race. What can you tell us about this year’s medals and other local “flavors” runners will see/experience as part of this race?  

We continue to have an excellent partnership with Leif Sporck of Sporck Tileart. His ceramic tile all-finishers awards are unique and he creates a difference design each year. All 25K and relay finishers will receive this year’s creation, while the top 80 finishers in the 5K race receive commemorative ceramic tile awards as well. Age-group winners in the 25K & relay winners also receive a bottle of wine from grapes grown on the Leelanau Peninsula.  The post-race food tent has a distinctive local flavor, with Stone House Bread, Naturally Nutty, Leelanau Fruit Company & Leelanau Cheese providing their products. If pricing is competitive, we really try to use all local products and services for our event.

Do you have any tips for runners taking on this challenge? Any tips for the 25K and 5K?  

The relay has become a very popular option for runners. So many runners automatically say “Oh, I can’t run a full 25K” but didn’t realize the option to split the race into two parts. More and more runners are finding the relay to be a fun way to participate in our event without having to train for the full 15.5 mile distance. Plus, there aren’t many relays offered to runners, so it makes for a nice two-person team event. The 25K requires similar training as the half marathon and runners should not attempt it without being prepared. Being 2.4 miles further than the half, it also provides a longer distance race for those who have plans to run a full marathon. Why make the jump for 13.1 to 26.2 when you can experience the 25K distance prior to attempting your first full? The 5K is truly the most fun of the three options because it is a FAST course. Once the runners take a quick turn near the start onto the Leelanau Trail, it is a slightly downhill route for 2.5 miles until reaching Suttons Bay. If you want a quick time on an accurate course, the 5K is for you.

What is the post-race vibe like? What can runners expect at the finish?  

Waterwheel Park in Suttons Bay is a perfect place to finish any one of the three races. There is plenty of shade to rest and hydrate before heading down to Marina Park for the food and award tent as well as the raffle. Plus, our Vineyard to Bay banner is set up just above the waterwheel and makes for a great “I Finished!” picture. With a beach and protected bay, a post-race swim is an ideal way to recover from a summer race. It’s all right there by the finish area.

What else would you like to be sure runners know about your race?  

First of all, the volunteers are top-notch. We receive so many compliments about the volunteers each year, and the best part is the same groups return to do it again the next year. That consistency is important in making sure the runners are provided with the best care possible before, during and after their race. Participants should also be aware that 100% of the proceeds go to Suttons Bay Schools, where all of our volunteers originate, or TART Trails, who kindly allow us to use the Leelanau Trail for our event.

Anything you’d like to share about your own running and racing these days? What have you been up to lately?

After volunteering for the Bayshore event these past six years, I finally decided to be a participant this year and ran the half marathon. I hadn’t done one in nearly 30 years, so the training was quite an adjustment. What made the training so enjoyable was to do it with the TC Track Club Training Group I’ve been fortunate to coach. It involved all positive people working hard towards the mutual goal of running Bayshore. With so many miles on these legs, I’ve tended to concentrate on 5Ks in recent years, although I seem to be drawn to the Cherryfest 15K each year, probably to see if I can still conquer McKinley hill. All in all, I feel very fortunate to be able to continue to do what I’ve loved to do for nearly 50 years…run.

Ready to sign on for this year’s Vineyard to Bay 25K, 15K/10K two-person relay or the 5K? Save on your race entry by using the code MRG2017 when registering. You’ll save $5. This is good until Aug. 24, 2017. Learn more and register here »

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