Monday, March 19, 2012

Getting it right - running Plymouth, Michigan

In my job we talk a lot about placemaking - creating the kinds of places where people want to live, work, and play. When it comes to placemaking, Plymouth, Michigan gets it right. Plymouth is a small city of just under 10,000 people located about a half an hour northeast of Detroit. I decided Plymouth was a great place for a St. Patrick's Day race - specifically the inaugural Shamrock 'n Roll 10k.

Beautiful downtown Plymouth, Michigan
Plymouth is just over an hour from Lansing, so when my alarm went off at 5:15 on a Sunday morning, I was not amused. A large coffee and an hour drive later, I was ready to run. The race was extremely well organized - I could not be more impressed. There was plenty of parking, and I was able to get a spot near the start/packet pick-up. Packet pick-up was quick and easy. The shirt (because it's all about the shirt) is great - a sassy white tech shirt with green stripes down both sides.

The race began at Kellogg Park in downtown Plymouth. Kellogg Park is exactly what you think of when you imagine a town square - a nice green space in downtown with a beautiful fountain, lots of trees, a lovely place to gather. It is really the perfect focal point of the downtown.

Kellogg Park in downtown Plymouth
The 10k and 5k had separate starts, and the 1500 of us running the 10k took off promptly at 8:15 (did I mention this race was REALLY well organized?).  The course wound through the neighborhoods near downtown, on quiet tree-lined streets past beautiful homes.  There were a number of spectators out cheering on their runner and just hanging out in their yard to cheer on all the runners. I had my own fabulous cheering section of my husband's mom, grandma and aunt. My husband gets being a great spectator naturally.

A photo taken by my cheering section - I am so fast I'm blurry!
Nobody can control the weather, but the weather was PERFECT. You could not ask for more flawless weather on race day - cloudy, high 50s, no rain. It was just fantastic. I had a great run at just 7 seconds off my 10k PR at 57:22 (that's 9:15 miles - pretty good for me).

Clearly happy after the race - check out that medal!
The race ended at Kellogg Park. There was a great medal (everyone loves a medal). The race made good use of the pavilion at the park to house post-race snacks and drinks. I could not be more pleased with the quality of the race.
With 2/3 of my great cheering section

With my awesome MIL who is becoming a veteran spectator!
As for Plymouth, well, we're in love. My husband immediately said, "We can move there" but I think I'd tire of an hour commute pretty quickly. In terms of design the neighborhoods are perfect, and downtown is just awesome. I love it there. Downtown Plymouth also always has something going on - a festival, a street fair, a farmers market. The downtown is so engaging, and it makes residents and visitors alike want to be there. It is a perfect example of what placemaking should create.

Sometimes I am cursing when the alarm goes off so early, but yesterday it was 100% worth it. Anyone who happened to drive by me on the way home on I-96 and saw me dancing in the car to Jay-Z and CeeLo Green, well you know then how happy yesterday morning made me. I'm a simple girl with a simple recipe for happiness: a good run and a good place.   


  1. I love this one, Samantha! I couldn't agree more! The longest race I've run is an 8K, but I'm thinking I'm going to get my feet on some 10K's soon...congrats on the finish; sounds like a perfect day!!

  2. If you've done an 8k you can TOTALLY do a 10k. It would be an easy transition. It's a fun distance too.