GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - The River Bank Run brings nearly 20,000 runners, walkers and hand cyclists to downtown Grand Rapids -- many have never been here before -- but this historical event gives those who never have, a chance to see the city in a whole new way.
The 25K route winds runners through downtown, along the river, through the west side and back. WZZM 13 spoke with Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss about what runners will see as they race and the WZZM Air 13 drone team shot the images from high above.
Athletes start at Monroe Ave and Lyon Street, then head down Market to the banks of the Grand River. "The Grand River, our namesake -- our city was named after the Grand Rapids, which used to be in the river," Mayor Bliss said. "So I love spending time on the river but the cool thing that runners will see is they will see what the river looks like today."
"So they will see a relatively flat river because we have five dams and hopefully about five years from now they will see those dams removed and they will see the rapids restored," explained Mayor Bliss.
From the river, runners head north and east into the heart of the city's west side.
"John Ball Park is this amazing part of our city -- its the home of our zoo, which we love, but it's also this great neighborhood that is really built by the working class," Mayor Bliss said. "Its this incredible mix of homeowners and renters and now with the university on the west side, you start to see just a whole different environment and culture and energy on the west side that really has grown over the years."
Finally, they will finish at the city's center -- which is growing each and every day.
"The city is thriving and so they will see a lot of construction which is the sign of a growing city," Mayor Bliss said. "Some people say it drives them crazy but we should be really excited in our city that we have a lot of construction, not just road construction, but also you will see a lot of cranes in the air.
"As you run into the heart of our city, as you are exhausted, you'll see this energy and this excitement and this vibrancy downtown and that hopefully will give them a boost of energy as they try to get passed that finish line."
To take a look at a map of the route, click here.
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