Over the past few years, the second Saturday of the weeklong National Cherry Festival in my hometown of Traverse City has become something of a tradition for my family — as it has for countless other families and friends, I am certain.

That day in early July is when the Festival of Races takes place — in recent time our family has run the 5K together and in prior years I tackled the 15K with their cheering support in the final stretch — and this year there are BIG, exciting changes for all runners participating.

We love running the Festival of Races!

We love running the Festival of Races!

Two additional events — a 10K and half-marathon — have been added, and I recently caught up with first-year race director Michelle Elliott to get the scoop on these changes. I’ve also got a race discount code, just for MRG readers, later in this post… First, here’s what Michelle had to say:

The Cherry Festival has added a half marathon and 10K to this year’s line-up of races–how did this all come about, and what do you hope runners experience if they sign on for these new races?

We have always thought about adding to the Festival of Races line-up. Over the past few years we received more and more requests to add more options. We decided it was a good year to try it out. I hope runners experience what they have always experienced with the Festival of Races. A perfect opportunity to celebrate family, our community, and the cherry!

The Festival of Races take place Saturday, July 12.

The Festival of Races take place Saturday, July 12.

How would you describe the race course(s)?
5K: Fun. Participants will run the same course they did a few years ago. Part of the race will run through the parade staging area so runners will get to see a sneak peek of all the floats.
10K: Fast. We wanted to add a race that was longer than a 5K but not as intimidating as the 15K/McKinley Hill.
15K: Challenging. Can you say you’ve conquered McKinley?
Half Marathon: Unique. The first mile and a half includes a trail run through one of the oldest farms on Old Mission Peninsula and then continues a long the beautiful shore of West Grand Traverse Bay. If I could run that day, this is the race I would choose.

photo[1]How many runner are expected to participate in all of the races?
We expect somewhere between 3,500 – 4,000 runners.

What other changes, if any, are in the works for this year’s events?
If you’re running the half-marathon, you’ll receive a nice finishers medal and an upgraded wicking shirt!

Anything else you would like people to know about the Cherry Festival of Races?
On Thursday, July 10th at 5 p.m. we will have the Fifth Third Bank Golden Mile. This is an opportunity to see elite athletes and talented high school athletes run one FAST mile. Once they finish, we kick off Carter’s Kids Fun Run. Children are invited to join local celebrity Carter Oosterhouse on a one mile fun run just before the beginning of the Junior Royal Parade!

OK, so are you ready to sign on? Anyone who registers BEFORE this Sunday, June 15 using the code MIRUNNERGIRL will receive $5 off their registration. Prices go up at midnight June 15, so you’ll save even more if you use this code within this timeframe. Here are the costs:

If you register online before June 15 at midnight:
5K Run/Walk 18 & Under: $20
5K Run/Walk Adult: $30
10K Run 18 & Under: $20
10K Run Adult: $35
15K Run 18 & Under: $20
15K Run Adult: $40
Half Marathon: $60 – Inaugural pricing

Register by clicking here » 

Want to see first-hand the new 13.1-mile course? Check out this video below:

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