Trail running. Campfires. Delicious post-race food and drink.

This is what I’m looking forward to when my family takes part in the second annual Run The Ridge 10K Team Relay this Mother’s Day weekend in Traverse City. The evening event, put on by the organizers of the Farmland 5K held each December in Traverse City, is held at Timber Ridge RV & Recreation Resort, a spot that’s home to numerous northern Michigan races and events. It’s also a great family-friendly campground.

Spring is here, let's get back on the trails!

Spring is here, let’s get back on the trails!

Last year we were among several families and groups that opted to pitch a tent or stay in a cabin the night of the race, and this time around we’re planning to do the same. We just need to figure out who is running with who — this year Alex, 9, wants to give it a try, too, so that makes five of us. This year’s Run The Ridge 10K Team Relay is set for Saturday, May 9 on Mother’s Day weekend.

I’m thinking this will be the perfect post-Boston race experience for me: softer terrain for my worked-so-hard-all-winter legs and just an overall laid-back and fun time. I’m hoping many of you can join, too. Race founder and director Lisa Taylor is offering a special race discount to MRG readers (get the code at the end of this post) AND this year I’ve also got both a tent site and a cabin site to give away to readers who sign on. (More details below.)

First, here’s more about Run The Ridge 10K Team Relay…

Inspired by nature ~ signage and awards at this weekend's inaugural Run The Ridge 10K Team Relay were carefully made by race organizers using items from the race trail and surrounding area.

Inspired by nature ~ signage and awards at this weekend’s inaugural Run The Ridge 10K Team Relay were carefully made by race organizers using items from the race trail and surrounding area.

Last year some 65 teams total ran the relay. Emma and Andrew chose to team up, and though Joe and I initially had planned to run together, he ultimately decided he didn’t want to risk injury given he hadn’t trained much. Krista, just a few weeks post-2014 Boston, jumped in for him. We decided to wear matching shirts — our Boston Marathon tees, mine from 2012 and hers from 2014. The long sleeves ended up being a bit too warm for me — it was sunny and in the high 60s at race time — but it was fun to look alike. A few other runners wore matching outfits, too. It was great to see so many kids running, including sibling and friend match-ups as well as parents teamed with their children.

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Team Durocher: Andrew & Emma at the finish of last year’s race.

“I was really excited to see such great intensity from all the runners. I loved seeing the look of effort in people’s faces, and especially loved the ‘family’ feel of the event,” Lisa says of last year’s event. “It was so much fun to see the way parents with little kids would tag off to each other, both to run or to watch the kids. I loved the mother daughter pairs on this Mother’s Day weekend, and was especially excited to see the expanse of the ages.”

Pre-race photo of the relay teams.

Pre-race photo of the relay teams.

What I loved about this event:

Great lodging specials for runners (and their families). For $49.95 we booked one of Timber Ridge’s Basic Cabins for the night — this was a special race weekend rate (normally $65/night) and included beds for all five of us, bunk-bed style, plus space heater, microwave and small fridge. It was perfect for a night’s stay. We had friends close by, too — a family who decided to tent camp and another who chose the cabin behind us. It was a great set-up for the kids to hang out and for us to have one campfire for all of us to sit around.

On-site lodging for the 2015 event:

Traverse City’s Timber Ridge Resort has great tent and RV campsites and park cabins at more than 50% off normal rates. 

Following are rates for registered runners and families:
Tent sites for $18
Camper/rv/popup sites for $25
Basic Cabin for $45, sleeps 5
Deluxe Cabin for $60, sleeps 3-5 people

Age-group winners received these cool wooden "medals."

Race winners in several different categories received these cool wooden “medals.”

Cool use of the natural surroundings. Directional arrows on the race course were made of sawdust, and awards and finisher’s souvenirs were crafted from wood. “I was glad we were able to create an event that used almost entirely natural materials,” Lisa says. “This required a lot of creativity and time, but it was so much fun to go foraging for birch bark, and to collect the fallen timber that helped block off the ‘wrong turns.'”

Yep. That's my daughter smoking me at the finish.

Yep. That’s my daughter smoking me at the finish.

Superb volunteer and crowd support. Each runner ran two 1.5 mile loops — we circled through the start/hand-off area, which provided a great spot for spectators to watch for family and friends. Volunteers were positioned throughout the course to make sure runners didn’t make a wrong turn. There were a few hills on the winding course, but nothing overly treacherous. The warmer weather last year made for a more challenging run, but the trails were as pretty as ever. Emma and me, both the “first-leg” runners, ran together — until the end of the second loop, when she sprinted ahead of me to give Andrew the high-five go-ahead to start. Krista was waiting for me and as soon as I reached her she took off, taking her Golden Retriever with her for the first loop. “I’m glad everyone found their way on the trail course,” Lisa says. “Trails can be tricky, and thanks to our volunteers from the TC Bayrunners and the Grand Traverse Conservation District, everyone knew exactly where to go as they made their way around the campground and the forest.”

We snagged an award! Actually, two - one for our age-group and one for our "costume" of wearing matching Boston tees.

We snagged an award! Actually, two – one for our age-group and one for our “costume” of wearing matching Boston tees.

Festive post-race vibe. Each runner was given two drink tickets — for Faygo and, for those of age, classic canned beer — along with a ticket for a burger or brat in the race packet. After cheering Andrew’s and Krista’s finish, we all found a spot at a picnic table, grabbed some food and settled in to wait for the awards. The kids also enjoyed the s’more kit also part of the race packets, thanks to the bonfires going nearby.

 “As I hoped, people really stayed around for the awards,” Lisa says. “We try with our races to make the ‘post-race’ worth waiting for, both with great food and super unique awards. I was glad people enjoyed our wood medals, and our wood trophies, all collected from the forest we ran in. It was fun to see people get excited to climb up to our tree stump awards podium, which was actually quite gigantic and a little difficult to climb!”

A few of my favorite pictures from last year’s event: 

 

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Emma and me, after crossing the finish.

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Look at these sweet girls! A & A, my dear friends’ little girls who ran together and won for youngest relay team. They were all smiles — before, during and after the race.

 

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Two of my dear friends and running partners, Katie and Pam, who teamed up and ran strong and fast! Love these ladies.

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Hey, look at us! Krista and me, savoring our combined age-group win.

 

 

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My loves after finishing the race.

 

Race Discount Code for 2015: Use the code MRG15 to receive 15% off the two-person price.

Lodging Giveaway Details: Two winners will be chosen to receive either a tent camping site or a park cabin at no charge. Both are for the night of the race, May 9, 2015. To enter to win one of these lodging options, please comment below why you’d like to run this race. The two winners will be chosen at random and announced here on the blog next week. The giveaway starts today, Friday April 24, and ends Monday April 27. Good luck everyone!

 

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