By Trevor Wood, Gazelle Sports Assistant Merchandise Manager
Have you ever had a race that held a special place in your heart? Well the 10 mile Bridge Run (or 5k if you’d rather keep it shorter) is that race for me.
I am a year shy of being over the hill at the ripe old age of 30, and I only began running five years ago. Working for a company such as Gazelle Sports insinuates that I am an avid runner, and a fast one at that, both of which are simply not true. I held out becoming a “runner” for the first five years of working at this amazing company. But then my schooling required me to have an internship, so I set something up to take video and capture stories of runners in Gazelle Sports’ training group for the 2012 Riverbank Run 25k. I got to interview and follow people of all ages, paces and backgrounds. Fast forward to race day. Watching those runners’ accomplishments over a dozen and a half weeks of training through a Michigan winter sparked something within me.
I began training by myself with no support group to really push me past my goals. My goal for the fall of 2012 was to do the Metro Health Grand Rapids Half Marathon. But along the way, I’d also raced the Bridge Run. During the summer I raced a handful of 5k and 10k races, garnering somewhat decent times that surprised my colleagues who knew that I’d only recently picked up running. (I think they were just being nice.) The Bridge Run was my longest double digit mile race. It was a perfect sunny day and I just wanted to finish. I ran the 10 miles in just over an hour and 12 minutes which equates to around a 7:17 minute per mile.
Okay, so now I’ve formed a baseline. I think that we all enjoy getting a personal best and beating our time at a race. The year is 2013 and the LMCU Bridge Run is on my checklist due to my inner desire to race better than the year before. The weather was iffy this year, and I finagled with my rain jacket wondering if the heavens were about to open up on us. We started off in Rosa Parks Circle and headed north towards Riverside Park, criss-crossing over a few bridges that span the Grand River. As we ran through the park everyone around me was cheering “Way to go, Kaitlin!” and I heard the cry several times as we rounded to the north end of the park and started heading back to the south entrance and back toward downtown. The girl named Kaitlin finally caught up to my side and we exchanged some short words of hello. We were both moving at an amazing speed hovering just below 7 minutes per mile. We ended up finishing at just under an hour and 10 minutes. Kaitlin turned out to be the love of my life, and the following year at the Bridge Run, I proposed to her a year from the day we met (and, trust me, carrying an engagement ring while pacing the 8 minute group and trying to figure out what I was going to say to my beloved at the finish line was quite the task!)
Fast forward four years. This year’s Bridge Run will be the fourth year since my wife and I met, the third year since I proposed and the second year I’ve paced. I think whether you’re stepping out onto the course of the Bridge Run for the first time or the 10th time, whether you want to find love, or just want to beat a previous year's race time, I know the Bridge Run will be a great time. They have one of the best running groups around town managing the race, RunGR, and the course is lined with all sorts of spectators. The pacers will help you cross the line at a faster time than what you think you can muster. Oh, and the weather - for some reason - seems to have been cooperating the last few years!
Overall, the Bridge Run is one of the best races West Michigan has to to offer and I highly recommend it for all running types from new to seasoned.