Say hello to MRG’s latest contributing writer, Kelly Yauk! Kelly’s running journey began in her hometown of Lansing in 2008 when she ran her first 5K at the urging of her now-husband: “We signed up for the Mint City 5K in St. Johns because I heard that every finisher got a medal and an ear of corn. Six years later I am still running for race bling and snacks,” she says. Today, she shares her experience running the 10K at this year’s Harborun in Elk Rapids, MI, an event that took place on Aug. 2. Look for more of her Michigan race recaps in upcoming posts. ~ MRG

Harborun fun...
Harborun fun.



The Elk Rapids Harborun was not what I expected.

When describing it to me, Elk Rapids-ites have billed Harbor Days as the “locals festival,” a smaller version of some of the area’s more crowded events, but retaining all of the charm that makes summer festivals in Michigan so much fun.

When races are “local,” that sometimes translates to “untimed,” “disorganized” or “we may run out of race shirts really early on.” I presumed that the Harborun would be a local race.

At first blush that assessment appeared to be correct. The race map was hand drawn and there was a write-in entry form on the website.

But when I showed up on race day I was greeted by fluttering pace group flags. What?! This was a welcome surprise. It is a special kind of disappointment when the start gun goes off at a race and you move five steps before being forced to stop by a race pack that is still sorting itself out. Not today!

Ready to race...
Ready to race…

There also seemed to be a healthy-sized field. Later investigation would tell me that the various timed races (excluding the Fun Run) had 894 participants listed. Running in a town with a population of 1,631. In fact,  when reviewing the results, it became clear that the field included race participants from all over Michigan and a host of other states including Illinois, Colorado, New York, Texas, California, Tennessee, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Wyoming and Ohio.

The 5K and 10K runners started together, which made the field look particularly impressive as we lined up. The start was near Veterans Memorial Park beach for a glimpse of surf before we hit the turf. We ran through downtown Elk Rapids, past the Harbor Days carnival before turning to run past the harbor itself.

The bulk of the course is run down North Bayshore Drive, a shaded lakeside street lined with homes. Sometimes out-and-back courses can seem a little boring, but I found this run to be continually engaging, in part because after the first 1.5 miles the jostling 5K pack fell away after their turn around. The group of runners immediately shrank to the quiet, strung-out length of people that is more common during a half-marathon. It gave the feeling of running a race within a race.

On the return route, the course ventured more thoroughly past the harbor and after streaking past the bobbing boats, two young men directed me off he pavement onto the grass. This was my favorite part of the race.

For a few hundred feet we ran off-road, looping around the Elk Rapids District Library. The Library is located in the appropriately named “Island House,” a lovely historic house on a small island that is accessible by a small white bridge. It is this same bridge that you get to speed across in your sprint to the finish line — which I did joyfully, almost catching the runner in front of me who took the time to slow down for a Chariots of Fire-style, slow-motion, arms-back crossing of the finish line.

After the finish, the Harborun had one more surprise in store for me: by the time I arrived home, the results were already posted online and they included not just my race time, but also a video of each participant crossing the finish line.

Finish line moment captured!
Finish line moment captured!

In the entirety of my running career I have never had a race photo that captured me looking both athletically inclined and like I was not about to throw up in the next five minutes. Now I have access to a video that makes me look quite fast, thank you slow-motion running man.

Call me a local, but I may have a new favorite race.

Kelly Yauk is the e-Marketing Manager at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa and an avid runner. A Michigan native, she moved to Traverse City three years ago. When Kelly is not hitting the pavement on a training run, she enjoys reading and talking about running and reading. She is the voice behind the Resort’s Team Barefoot and has recently signed up for her first triathlon, the Traverse City Triathlon, this coming weekend, Aug. 17.


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