Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Running Traverse City

I love Traverse City, Michigan. I love, love, love it. It has everything a thriving community should have – a wonderful downtown, walkability, great restaurants, local shops, a beautiful setting right on the Grand Traverse Bay.  And if you run the Bayshore Marathon or Half Marathon you don’t see any of this picturesque downtown. 
I ran the Bayshore Half Marathon in 2007. It was my second half after San Francisco, and obviously it was very different.  We arrived in Traverse City the evening before the race and stayed at a random hotel. I honestly can’t even recall where we stayed, and I’m not sure it matters.  Everything about getting around Bayshore requires driving to various sites. There’s no walking outside from your hotel and right into the race start.
The morning of the race we met at Traverse City Central High School and piled into busses to head out to the half marathon start.  (The marathon is an out and back along the bay.)  It was a chilly morning (high 40s) but perfect, sunny running weather after a few miles.
I love small races, and I prefer the smaller half marathons I’ve done. Bayshore is certainly small and the crowds are smaller, but it’s a less intimidating race.  The problem with running along the bay and not through any part of town that it got a little boring.
The Traverse City residents were great and were out cheering and offering water, lemonade and (my personal favorite) strawberries. The race ended on the track at the same high school where we picked up our packets and loaded the buses.
Rounding the corner to the Bayshore finish
I enjoyed the race because it was low key and relaxed, but as a cityphile it’s very disappointing that you don’t actually see any of Traverse City. Like I said, it is a fantastic town.  After the run we headed downtown to scour the race gear and had a great dinner at The Blue Tractor (whose mac ‘n cheese is second to none).  I enjoyed hanging out downtown Traverse City way more than the race itself. It seems there could be a way to showcase more of the city during the race.
The Bayshore course is flat and pretty, but seeing more of downtown Traverse City would give it a huge boost for me.  When I run in a town I want to SEE the town.   
Good luck to my friends running the race this year  – Fred Schaible and Kyle Melinn running the marathon and Bethany Wicksall running the half. You’ll all do great – carb up at the Blue Tractor for me!
How would I rate the Bayshore race? B (take me downtown and it’s an instant upgrade)
How would I rate Traverse City? A (it’s got everything you’d want in a town!) 

1 comment:

  1. I'm very excited about the race. Thanks for the review and the shout out, Samantha!