Wheatlake Festival of Races set for Saturday

Susan Wheatlake leads the wellness walk during a previous Wheatlake Festival of Races. This year, the races are set to begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 18. (Courtesy photo)

BIG RAPIDS — Across Mecosta and Osceola counties, community members are breaking out their running shoes in preparation for the annual Wheatlake Festival of Races, set to begin at 8 a.m. this Saturday, May 19.

The races take place on the White Pine Trail, Big Rapids Riverwalk and streets near Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital. The Big Rapids Bandshell, located behind the Big Rapids Middle School, will be the hub of activity for the events.

Race proceeds benefit the Susan P. Wheatlake Cancer and Wellness Fund, which provides resources and materials for patients and families facing cancer in our region. Because of the Wheatlake Festival of Races and other donations, Spectrum Health has been able to give 536 free gas cards, 257 free massages, 702 free acupuncture treatments and many free wigs, quilts, scarves and hats to cancer patients over the past three years.

Currently, there are more than 420 participants pre-registered, a contrast to last year’s 158 runners and walkers pre-registered before the event. Online registration is still open at spectrumhealth.org/wheatlake-races. People also can register at packet pick-up on Friday evening and on the morning of the events. Early packet pick-up is from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, May 18, at the Holiday Inn, located at 1005 Perry Ave., Big Rapids. With registration being open through Saturday morning, officials anticipate more than 450 runners and walkers on the White Pine Trail and Riverwalk routes.

Events include a half marathon, 10K and 5K run, a 5K (or shorter) wellness walk and a kids dash for youngsters age 10 years and less. The half marathon begins at the Reed City Depot, while the 10K begins at Paris Park. The 5K run and wellness walk begin near the Bandshell.

Check-in starts at 6 a.m. on Saturday. The buses depart for Paris Park and Reed City at 6:45 and 7 a.m. The running events all begin at 8 a.m. Saturday morning. The wellness walk steps off at 9:30 a.m., with Susan Wheatlake as the starter, and the kids dash is set for 10:30 a.m. Race day registration starts at 6 a.m. near the Bandshell, where all events finish. Buses to the half marathon and 10K start lines will also leave from the Bandshell area, at 6:45 and 7 a.m.

Parking for the races will be available in the lots behind and in front of the Big Rapids Middle School.

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Posted by Meghan Gunther-Haas

Meghan is the education reporter for the Pioneer and Herald Review. She can be reached at (231) 592-8382 or by email at mhaas@pioneergroup.com.

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