Thousands of runners participated in the 7th Annual Grand Rapids Marathon.
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Tens of thousands of runners are expected to take part in this weekend's Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon. The weekend of events is expected to draw more than 5,000 participants from more than 35 states and 5 countries. This is the ninth year of the event which attracts elite and other athletes from all over the world.
"We have people of all levels of ability. We have the really, really fast guys that are going to get out here and burn it out in 2 1/2 hours. We have the people who are a little more velocity challenged, who will take sometimes as much as up to 8 hours to do the thing," said Don Kern, race director.
Race weekend kicks off Saturday, October 20th with a pre race expo from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the David D. Hunting YMCA. Also occurring Saturday is the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital Grand Rapids Kids Marathon. This event, now into its 6th year, encourages children to adopt regular exercise into their everyday lives.
"They get out there and actually train over the course of 2 months, with their moms and dads too, doing a mile at a time and sometimes doing a half mile for the smaller kids. They go out and accumulate 25 miles," said Kern. "So, over the course they are not just doing one event that develops over a couple of months, but hopefully building a habit that makes them feel excited about physical fitness."
10-year old Adam Klaiss started participating in marathon weekend a few years ago running in the Kids Marathon but has since graduated. Last year Klaiss completed his first, 13.1 mile, half marathon and seeks to repeat that accomplishment again this year. He will run in the race on Sunday with his mom, dad and older brother.
Klaiss hopes his efforts will inspire his peers.
"I think more kids should get out and start being active. So, I think this is good because they could get encouraged by us running it for them to run it," he said.
"It is a great healthy lifestyle. Michigan is a great place to run. You have of opportunities here and it is great to get out and get a little exercise in and spend time as a family," said Adam's father, Gary Klaiss.
The starting gun for the main event, and affiliated events, is Sunday morning, October 21st at 8 a.m. Participants in the Children's Marathon will gather at 1:30 p.m. Saturday to complete the last 1.2 miles of the marathon.
Runners will start outside David D. Hunting YMCA in Grand Rapids and set out to complete the 26.2 mile marathon. You can see the race route here.