It’s safe to say that the Michigan race scene is really getting back on its feet, now that pandemic restrictions have been lifted. And for those of us who have greatly missed toeing start lines, cheering one another on through the miles, and triumphantly crossing finish lines, it’s exciting to be adding summer and fall race events to our calendars. 

A July must-run racing event in northern Michigan? The Meijer Festival of Races that is part of the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Mich. These Saturday, July 10 races are back in person — and also remain a virtual option. Events include the Priority Health 5K, 10K, McKinley Challenge 15K, and half marathon.

Festival of Races
Heather with her sons Andrew (far left) and Alex at the Festival of Races 5K, 2018.

Kat Paye, executive director of the National Cherry Festival, and Alex Zelinski, director of corporate partnerships, join Heather on the show to talk about this year’s races, which has some changes, including an all-new finish line at The Open Space in downtown (previously, the races ended on Front Street). Kat and Alex share what runners and spectators can expect on race day and throughout the weeklong festival. They also talk about a newer virtual running event — the Michigan Harvest Challenge that kicks off in July and runs through October — and how it came about as part of the creative and innovative brainstorming the team did throughout the pandemic to stay connected with festival-goers and runners and walkers.  

To listen to Kat and Alex on the latest MRG podcast episode, click on the player at the top of this post. Or, download the episode (and subscribe to the show!) using your favorite podcast app.

And yep, you’ll get cherries once you complete your Festival of Races run. Learn more and register here. And learn more about the multi-run Michigan Harvest Challenge — happening now through October — here.

Kat, Alex, and Heather also chat about favorite places to explore in Michigan (the U.P. tops all three of their lists), Alex’s plans to conquer another half marathon this fall, and Kat’s sprint workouts (chasing after her toddler) at the Civic Center in Traverse City.

If you enjoy what you’re hearing on the Michigan Runner Girl show, we’d be so grateful if you’d take a few moments to write a review on iTunes. This will help more runners and Michigan lovers like yourself find the podcasts. Thank you!! Also, the quickest way to get the podcasts is to subscribe to the show via iTunes or via Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. A special thanks to the talented Jonny Tornga for producing the show.


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