Last summer the National Cherry Festival added two new races to its longstanding Festival of Races line-up of a 15K and 5K: a half marathon that treated runners to water views and a trek through a cherry orchard, and an equally as scenic 10K option.

This July the Festival of Races returns with these same four distances, with a few changes and improvements on tap.

festival of races_ 2color_biggercbo“We are always looking for ways to improve our participants experience,” says Michelle Elliott, race director, of the Saturday, July 11 event. “This year we’re adding more aid stations, restrooms and electrolyte intake for the longer distances.”

“We do have some exciting news about our half marathon,” she adds. “Chateau Grand Traverse is a long time sponsor and will now host the start of the race. Runners will experience a longer trail run this year. The views of West Grand Traverse Bay are incredible and of course we’re excited to share the experience of running through a vineyard and a cherry orchard!”

Michelle says organizers expect about 4,000 runners this year for all four distances. “Our 5K has definitely been the most popular distance with around 2,500 runners/walkers,” she says. “The half marathon is capped at 1,000 runners this year so we encourage everyone to sign up early.”

MRG is partnering with the Festival of Races again this year. I look forward to sharing runner stories and more in the next few months leading up to race day. To start, here’s more about this year’s event from my chat with Michelle.

MRG-FestivalCherryOrchardsqaures-for-website_NCF9How would you describe running experience participants have when they run any of these races?

I think each race has a different experience. Our 5K is a fun run/walk and is great for the whole family. The 10K course is fast with a small incline which can be challenging. The 15K has so much history and of course it includes “Mt. McKinley.” [A steep incline on McKinley Road on Old Mission Peninsula] The half marathon is beautiful and captures that farm element that we’ve always wanted to add to the races. Each race finishes on historic Front Street in front of thousands of people. This race is a reunion for many people and a great way to wrap up the Cherry Festival.

How about race swag/finishers’ medals?

The top three runners in each age category in each race will receive a medal. Half marathon finishers will all receive a medal. Awards will go to the top three teams in each race. We’ll post photos as soon as we finish the designs but I expect they’ll be pretty cool!

Cherries are part of the post-race food spread for runners.

We did add some new merchandise options. There are some nice jackets and a hat available to purchase during registration.

Anything else you’d like to be sure runners know about the Festival of Races this year?

The Festival of Races is a great way to celebrate health and wellness with friends and family. We encourage people of all ages to get out and set a goal to run one of our races. I look forward to seeing everyone on July 11th!

Look for lots more coverage of the Festival of Races here on MRG as race day nears. You can view course maps here »

Ready to sign on for one of these race distances? Register here »


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