The BIG Little Hero Race, a 10K/5K/fun run organized by business students at Northwestern Michigan College, is back for its second year this spring.

Last year’s event raised more than $8,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan. While I wasn’t able to run the race last year — we had a busy spring with traveling out east for the Boston Marathon — this year my family is taking part in the April 16 race, and I’m looking forward to it (now to just figure out our superhero costumes…)

The BIG Little Hero Race will take place Saturday, April 16, 2016 on the campus of Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City.
The BIG Little Hero Race will take place Saturday, April 16, 2016 on the campus of Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City.

MRG has again partnered with race organizers on this event, so expect more stories in coming weeks. NMC students will also join me on the MRG podcast for an upcoming episode. In the meantime, read on for more details from race coordinator Kyle Brownley:

This is the race’s second year — what did you learn from putting on last year’s event and what changes, if any, will there be for this year?

We were surprised and touched by the support we received from the community last year. Expecting an even bigger output this year, we have upgraded the venue for our awards ceremony. This year, racers, friends and family will gather in the health and science atrium after the race.

We learned that Traverse City has an active running community, who were quick to show their support for such an important cause. After the success of last year’s free one mile fun run, we have decided to make the child friendly activity a staple each year. To keep the event fresh, we will be offering the free capes in exciting new colors for each year’s event.

Capes will be handed out at the race.
Free capes will be handed out at the race.

How would you describe the race experience? What are the 10K and 5K courses like?

Overall the Big Little Hero Race is a family-friendly event. Pre- race, you can expect a festive environment, with music provided by Z-93, and everyone is encouraged to come dressed as their favorite superhero. Both the 5K and 10K races will be timed by Endurance Evolution, and have a start time of 9:30 a.m. The one-mile fun run will start at 9 a.m., and everyone is encouraged to participate. Runners of both the 5K and 10K will start simultaneously on NMC’s main campus. The primarily flat course continues out onto scenic East Shore Drive, leading runners up Old Mission Peninsula. Runners of the 5K will make the turn at the base of E. Timberlane Dr., and 10K participants will do so at the base of McKinley. This is a great training opportunity for anyone participating in the popular Bayshore Marathon races.

What does this mean to NMC students to organize a community race? Why is it important to partner with Big Brothers Big Sisters?

We are excited and honored to take advantage of such a unique learning opportunity. NMC’s service learning project allows us to learn real-life communication skills while at the same time supporting an organization that strives to truly make a difference in our community.

BBBS is in a rare position to effect substantial change on the future of our community, while only asking for a few hours of a time a week from their adult mentors. There are very few charities that can do so much, with so little.

Tony finishing a 2009 marathon
Tony finishing a 2009 marathon

This race is being dedicated to Tony Anderson. Please tell us about this.

Tony Anderson is a true hero. He not only is a Big (mentor) himself, but he’s raised thousands of dollars for BBBS. By running a marathon in each state he has not only raised money but also awareness. He is passionate, motivating and selfless. He just had his hip replaced so that he can continue his legacy by finishing his goal of 50 marathons in 50 states. We thought it would be fitting to dedicate this superhero-themed race to a dedicated runner and real-life hero.

Tony pioneered Big Brothers Big Sisters relationship with the running community through the creation of the Big Little Trail Run.  Although this event ended this summer, our NMC class will work closely with Tony to keep this relationship alive through our annual Big Little Hero Race. Ultimately, we wanted to thank Tony for bringing hope and inspiration to so many in our community.

What will the post-race experience be like?

This year’s post-race events will include an awards ceremony (with super awesome medals), post-race food for all runners, a kids’ activity area (face painting, balloons, cookie decorating, cotton candy and popcorn machines and a superhero-themed photobooth). Prizes this year will be awarded to the top female/male racers in the 5K and 10K. There will also be prizes for best male, female and child costumes. Don’t forget this is a dog-friendly race so bring all nice dogs along to run at the back of the pack – there is a prize for best dressed super-pup. Be sure to check out all of the great prizes available through our silent auction, with all proceeds going to BBBS. If you’re interested in finding out more about becoming a mentor, there will also be a BBBS information booth.

Any great costume ideas to share with runners who plan to sign up for this race?

All superhero costumes are encouraged! The most important thing is to have fun with your costume, and come ready to support an amazing local organization.

Ready to sign up for the BIG Little Hero Race? Register here »

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