Breathtaking scenery meets long-standing community tradition this June 27 in Muskegon.

It’s during this race weekend that thousands of runners and walkers take part in the 34th annual Mercy Health Seaway Run & Health Expo. The event features a half marathon, 15K, 5K run, 5K walk and a free health expo.

The area’s beautiful landscape plays an integral role in the events–a definite attraction for those signing on to participate.

Runners and walkers are treated to beautiful scenery during the events.
Runners and walkers are treated to beautiful scenery during the events.

“The Lake Michigan Half Marathon and our traditional 15K take runners out to the Lake Michigan beach and back along the Lakeshore Recreational Trail,” says race director Joe Doyle. “Our most popular events are the 5K Run and Community Fun Walk winding through historic neighborhoods with views of beautiful Muskegon Lake. From a 5K fun walk to a challenging half marathon course, the Mercy Health Seaway Run has an event for everyone.”

Runners and walkers can expect a few improvements to this year’s races, Doyle says. “We listen to our participants by sending a survey out after each event and by talking to people on race day,” he says.

Based on feedback from last year, changes include:

  • Women’s size tech shirts for the first time
  • 5K course redesigned to decrease the number of turns
  • Each of the race’s 13 “Spirit Stations” (aid stations) will have fresh water, not from a hose, served in paper cups instead of plastic
  • Separate starts times for the 15K and Lake Michigan Half Marathon
  • Redesigned finish line/refreshment area

MRG is partnering with this race and recently caught up with Joe Doyle to learn more about this year’s event, including course info, interesting places to check out, and restaurants and breweries to try if you’re planning to make a weekend out of it.

What kind of race experiences can runners expect? 

The Mercy Health Seaway Run races give all participants the best possible personal experience.  Whether they are walking in the 5K Community Walk, running their first 5K, going for a personal bes , or taking on the challenge of the longer distance 15K or Lake Michigan Half Marathon, we encourage everyone to have fun, do their best, encourage others, and get healthy. We call our water stops “Spirit Stations” for a reason – the volunteers love to cheer everyone on as they hand out a cup of water or a GU packet!

cheerWhat’s one cool thing about the half?  

There are lots of cool things about this half marathon! The USATF Certified course starts near the Muskegon YMCA, up the Cole’s Bakery hill (yummy smells!) to follow Lakeshore Drive toward Lake Michigan. Once at Pere Marquette, runners loop through the Harbor Towne Condos and along the channel, past the USS Silversides submarine (a movie star!) and the lighthouse. Continuing back along Beach Street to Sherman, runners will pass the award winning Muskegon Country Club golf course, then wind through historic neighborhoods to catch the beautiful Lakeshore Recreational Trail, finishing back near the YMCA.

And, one cool thing about the 15K – A unique distance, this race is in it’s 34th year and offers racers beautiful views of Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan.

… and the 5K – The Seaway Run’s most popular race, the 2014 5k course attracted 1,667 runners and 1,151 walkers. The 5K course is back to its roots in the historic Nims neighborhood, winding through streets of historic homes and shady trees, finishing with views of Muskegon Lake. The Mercy Health seaway Run is all about improving the health of our community. Our goal is to positively impact the health of our community by encouraging youth to participate in health activities now and into the future. Youth 18 and under can participate in the 5K run or Walk for the incredibly low registration fee of only $5.

walkersIf you were to offer training tips to runners participating in one of these races, what would they be?  

BE PREPARED! The Muskegon YMCA’S Mercy Health Seaway Run Training Course helps you prepare for the 5K, 15K or Lake Michigan Half Marathon. From beginner to intermediate to advanced runner, you’ll find just the right fit. The 11-week course offers a variety of coached workouts all will enjoy the camaraderie and safety of group running, plus learn about the sport of running. Each session is led by experienced runners who will discuss the importance of proper foot wear, adequate hydration, speed workouts, cross training and proper nutrition. Contact the Muskegon Family YMCA at (231) 722-9322 to register.

If runners are making a weekend out of their trip to Muskegon for the race, any must-see places to check out? 

Muskegon County has a rich history and inviting lakeshore culture waiting for you to discover. Our “Lumber Queen” roots have built an engaging community full of tradition and future vision. Walk back in time while touring the homes of Muskegon’s most famous lumber baron, Charles H. Hackley, and his business partner, Thomas Hume at the Hackley and Hume Historic Site. The site envelops the visitor in a unique living space, bringing late 19th century craftsmanship to life. The Lakeshore Museum Center offers several historic experiences including the Fire Barn, Scolnik Depression House, as well as changing and permanent exhibits.  The Muskegon Heritage Museum shows the economic, industrial and social history of the greater Muskegon area.

Our extensive lakeshore history includes historic ships, lighthouses and much more. You can tour two lighthouses and a unique collection of ships, including a World War II submarine and a Great Lakes cruise ship. Every visit should include culture and history, which can be brought to life at The USS Silversides Submarine Museum, the LST393 Veteran’s Museum, and the S.S. Milwaukee Clipper.

lighthouse-strongHow about food and drink?

Enjoy a delicious lunch at Muskegon’s new barbeque restaurant, The Deck. They have all the B’s…barbeque, beer and the beach. Be sure to dine outside and take in the panoramic view of gorgeous Lake Michigan and Pere Marquette Beach.

If you like craft beer, check out Pigeon Hill Brewing Company. The brand plays off the famed local sand dune, Pigeon Hill, which was the largest sand dune on the Lake Michigan shoreline before it was mined away. Their dream is to bring back the magic of the old Muskegon Brewing Co., which opened in 1876 on Muskegon Lake. It produced what some considered the finest beers in the Midwest until Prohibition ended the fun.

Be sure to visit Unruly Brewing Companytoo. When they opened in 2013, Unruly was the first brewery to brew beer in Muskegon since 1957. They offer a wide range of craft beer styles as well as an outdoor beer garden, live music and free brewery tours anytime!  Rebel Pies makes great tasting, unique pizzas right next to the brewery, and stop by Drip Drop Drink for a great cup of coffee.  All three share uniquely reclaimed space in the old Russell Block Building. Check out this cool Brews, Boats and BBQ itinerary here »

everyones-inThe race’s expo sounds like such a great event — can you talk about the importance of this expo and what all is involved with it?  

Healthy choices lead to a healthier life and a healthier community!  The Healthy Lifestyle Expo is offered at no cost to the community, so you can explore healthy options and learn how to optimize your family’s health. Visit the expo for health screenings, food, music, kids activities, prizes, demonstrations and more!

Seaway Run Race Director Joe Doyle with Chris Burnaw, who serves as co-chair of the event.
Seaway Run Race Director Joe Doyle with Chris Burnaw, who serves as co-chair of the event.

Anything else you’d like to add, that you’d want runners to know about?  

This event has been a community tradition for 34 years. With the addition of the Lake Michigan Half Marathon in 2013, the Mercy Health Seaway Run has attracted new participants from across the country to the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan. As race director, I hope to continue to improve the racers experience through my own experiences. As a runner for over 30 years, I’ve been happy to participate in many races throughout the midwest, including the very first Seaway Run in 1980.

Ready to sign up for one of the Seaway Run events? Register here »


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