After a year where most local races and endurance events have been canceled or converted to virtual competitions, the second half of 2021 is packed with in-person competitions. The teleprinter contacted the organizers of some of the region’s biggest races to find out how their plans for 2021 differ from previous years, what their registration numbers look like and what locals should expect in terms of crowds or disruptions from the circulation.
National cherry festival Meijer racing festival, July 11
The typical plan: Held on the morning of the second Saturday of the Cherry Festival, the Festival of Races consists of four races (5k, 10k, 15k and half marathon) through Old Mission Peninsula and downtown Traverse City.
The revised 2021 plan: The big change this year is the configuration of the finish line. In a typical year, the races take place just before the Cherry Royale Parade and follow the parade route down Front Street. This year, with the parade converted to a âstanding paradeâ at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa and the construction of bridges blocking several downtown streets, Cherry Festival staff have chosen not to close Front Street. Races will instead follow a route along Grandview Parkway to a finish line at Open Space.
How the registrations go: The Festival of Races currently has approximately 1,800 registered participants across four in-person races and four virtual options (also new this year). The figures show a clear preference for face-to-face contests: 1,721 registrations in the four races, compared to 71 virtual registrations.
What locals need to know: While Front Street is not closed, race routes will affect several local roads, including Peninsula Drive, College Drive, Eastern Avenue, East Shore Road, McKinley Road, Washington Street, and Railroad Avenue. The first race starts at 7 a.m. and traffic disruptions can continue until 10:30 a.m., when all courses are close to the runners. Full course maps for each race are available here.
Tour de TART, July 16
The typical plan: The TART Tour is an evening bike ride that takes cyclists on a 17 mile route of the TART and Leelanau trails, starting at Darrow Park in Traverse City and ending with a bay side buffet at North Park in Suttons Bay. The event is TART’s largest annual fundraiser.
The revised 2021 plan: According to Janna Goethal, Annual Giveaways and Special Events Coordinator for TART Trails, this year’s TART Tour “will be like previous years, with a few small changes.” Event registration is capped at 300 runners, up from 625 in 2019, and the dinner buffet is exchanged for boxed dinners prepared by Fiddleheads of Lake Leelanau with support from VI Grill in Suttons Bay. No registration day will be available.
How the registrations go: Goethal says registrations for this year’s Tour of TART – which opened on June 23 – are “steadily increasing” at the moment. âWe expect to reach our cap of 300 for this year’s event within the next two weeks,â she adds.
What locals need to know: Runners will begin at Darrow Park between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on July 16, with round-trip bus service between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. from North Park. Goethal says locals can expect large crowds at the start and finish points, as well as crossing guards at several intersections along the TART and Leelanau Trail, including Tom’s West Bay, Carter Road, Cherry Bend Road, Grandview Road, Center Highway, Lake Leelanau Drive. There will also be six crossing guards stationed around the village of Suttons Bay.
Crystal Lake Team Marathon, August 14
The typical plan: Usually held on the second Saturday in August, the Crystal Lake Team Marathon is a relay running event that features teams of five members. Each team member runs one stage to reach the total distance of 26.2 miles. The race begins and ends in downtown Beulah, with a course that wraps around Crystal Lake.
The revised 2021 plan: According to race organizer Asa Kelly, the 2021 Crystal Lake Team Marathon will look pretty normal, with the only notable changes affecting the post-race festivities. These changes include packaged food instead of cut fruit, bottled water versus cups, and an award pickup table instead of a larger ceremony.
How the registrations go: Kelly expects the Crystal Lake Team Marathon to attract around 80 teams, near average.
What locals need to know: The Crystal Lake Team Marathon will impact a variety of routes around Crystal Lake, including downtown Beulah. Kelly recommends that locals check the course map and âwatch out for runners on the roadâ. The roads will not be closed, but Kelly says runners will be absent from 7 a.m. to noon on race day.
IRONMAN 70.3 Michigan, September 12
The typical plan: IRONMAN debuted in northern Michigan in 2019 with a course centered around downtown Traverse City. Controversy over road closures and traffic disruptions – particularly in County Leelanau, where much of the race’s 56-mile cycle route was mapped out – led event organizers to relocate the event in Frankfurt.
The revised 2021 plan: Beyond the move to another location, Trevor Tkach, president and CEO of Traverse City Tourism, expects the race to look like pre-pandemic competition. âSince the restrictions were lifted, we’re basically back to business as usual – just putting more emphasis on the health safety protocol,â he says.
How the registrations go: When asked how registrations are going, Tkach said The teleprinter: “Good but a little confusing”, noting that there are “still a number of deferred registrants from 2020 who have not yet committed. The uncertainties associated with the pandemic have certainly affected decision-making as well. and athlete training plans. âThe original Traverse City Ironman sold out within hours, but there are still seats available for this year’s event as of this writing.
What locals need to know: âThe race is a gradual closure – not a complete road closure,â Tkach said. âThere are alternative routes for automobile traffic. All these details will be released in the coming months. Those looking for course map information and other updates can keep an eye on the IRONMAN website.
Sleeping Bear Marathon, October 2
The typical plan: The Sleeping Bear Marathon is a series of three round-trip races (a marathon, half marathon, and 5k run / walk) that start in Empire and pass through parts of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The race started in 2012 and usually takes place on the first Saturday in October.
The revised 2021 plan: “Fortunately, because everything is open, the athletes will not expect anything different [from usual]Says Abbey VanValkenburg of Race Day Events, the timing company that runs the marathon. The only significant change is that participants will have the option of opting for virtual races.
How the registrations go: VanValkenburg says Race Day Events is expecting record numbers. The event already has 850 entries – approaching the previous record of “just under 900” in 2019 – and VanValkenberg predicts the race will beat 1,000 competitors for the first time. âI think the runners are very excited for the fall,â she said. âAnd it’s not just because of the lifting of COVID precautions. People sign up because [our race date] gives them time to start training and be trained on time.
What locals need to know: No road will be closed. The majority of the route, VanValkenberg explains, follows the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail and the parts that are on the roads ârun to the sideâ to keep the traffic moving.
Mud, sweat and beers, October 9
The typical plan: Mud, Sweat, & Beers (MSB) is a big tire and mountain bike race held on the first Saturday in May, with a start and finish line at Mt. A vacation and a route through neighboring neighborhoods and parts of the VASA trail. The event, a fundraiser for Mt. Holiday typically attracts 900 participants over four races.
The revised 2021 plan: On May 1, MSB hosted a “COVID-restricted race” called MSB300, which was capped at 300 runners due to COVID-19 restrictions. The race scheduled for October 9 – dubbed the MSB Classic – will be the full version, with all four races and 900 participants.
How the registrations go: According to co-event director Jim Kalajian, the MSB Classic is technically the rescheduled event from May 2020, which filled its registration slots in March 2020 before being rescheduled – first in August 2020, then in May 2021 and finally on October 9.
What locals need to know: The impact on public roads and other infrastructure is minimal. Kalajian says that, as is often the case with every incarnation of racing over the past 10 years, the MSB Classic will have “no real impact on residents other than the Holiday Hills and English Woods neighborhoods.” These roads are not closed, but will see race cycle traffic.
Iceman Cometh, November 6
The typical plan: The Iceman Cometh, which is traditionally held on the first Saturday in November, is “the largest one-day point-to-point mountain bike race in the country,” according to the Iceman website. The event typically draws nearly 5,000 runners, both for the Saturday morning race and a Friday expo at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.
The revised 2021 plan: According to Iceman race director Cody Sovis, the goal for 2021 is to be âas close to normal as possibleâ. âWe are really looking at changing the guidelines as summer and fall approach so that we can go beyond what is required,â says Sovis. Attendees can expect “potential changes to where and how we serve food and drink at the exhibit”, as well as increased social distancing efforts “to the extent of possible at the departure and arrival sites â.
How the registrations go: Sovis says most of the runners registered from 2020 have chosen to “donate or defer their registrations to this year, so we’ve been essentially full since this spring.” The event also has a “large waiting list”.
What locals need to know: The Iceman Course stretches from the Kalkaska Airport to the Timber Ridge RV & Recreation Resort, crossing mostly dirt roads, dual lane trails, abandoned railroad tracks, and the VASA ski trail. The impact on local roads is minimal, although Sovis says there is always additional traffic “on the east side of Traverse City and on the M-72” during the Iceman weekend.
Also on the calendar for the next few months are races like the Traverse City Triathlon (Sunday August 15) and the M22 Challenge (September 18), although the organizers of these events have not responded to inquiries. The teleprinterrequests for comments.