Stars, Stripes, and Splatter- a 5K Color Race, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, July 1, 2017

Kids love running through mud puddles. Running through mud puddles brings sounds of joy. Kids and adults of all ages love color runs. The Stars, Stripes, and Splatter- a 5K Color Race, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, July 1, was like a huge fun-filled mud puddle featuring red, white and blue corn starch thrown on runners by smiling volunteers. When we finished the giant fun run, we were covered from head to toe in red, white and blue corn starch, and we loved it. At race finish, we gathered near the finish line and tossed more corn starch all over us and in the air. The corn starch in the air was so thick we could not see our red, white and blue hands in front of us.


Sponsored by Pepsi, Shorts Brewing and The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, DJ Mikey, alias, Mike Valliere, provided music and announcements while Kelly and Mellisa Lose, employees of the resort passed out Shorts beer to finishers over 21. Gary and Karen Provin, were among close to 50 volunteers due to an announcement at their church. There was plenty of good snacks and lots of fun for kids in the inflated obstacle courses.


Kelly Yauk, Race Director and e-marketing manager at Grand Traverse Resort (GTR), and many volunteers from The Habitat for Humanity and area churches and civic groups welcomed over 600 runners including many kids in carts and the elderly, such as your 75-year-old author, to the Jazz Field at GTR. The race was fun, but there was a serious side as the race benefited the Habitat for Humanity. HfH used the proceeds to help build a house for an area veteran. “This is our fourth year hosting the Stars, Stripes, and Splatter 5k and our first working with Habitat for Humanity-Grand Traverse Region. We connected with Habitat GTR over their work building a home for a local veteran and the partnership has been a real game changer for us. This year we hosted 575 registered runners, by far our largest number, and the support of the Habitat for Humanity GTR staff and volunteers played a huge role in making this event a success.”- Co-race director and eMarketing Manager Kelly Yauk



I met many GTR executives and employees as they assisted with registration and race direction. DeAgostino, GTR PR director, rang cowbells and encouraged finishers, Steve Trimmer, Director of GTR Marketing and Kyle Oberstadt, membership manager, helped at registration and other race functions. Habitat for Humanity, (HfH) was well represented. While the final tally is not complete, the Resort will ultimately donate more than $1,000 to HfH. Wendy Irvin, HfH-GTR executive director, joined her entire staff and nearly 50 HfH-GTR volunteers who took time out of their holiday weekend to support the event. “We want to thank the Resort and all of our volunteers. The response from our volunteers was overwhelming. We had a beautiful turnout, with the family friendly nature of the race, entire families came out to volunteer. We are so appreciative of Grand Traverse Resort and Spa’s partnership and donation.”


Did I say the race was FUN? in addition to raising funds for HfH, there were race “winners”, folks whose lives were changed by running. For example, there was Tammy Witkowski, 42, a “winner” by any definition. Tammy lost over 60#, her blood values dropped and her asthma came under control. She was joined by husband, Mike, age 44, and friend Heather Tolfree, 46, a 20# loser. Jake Burden, 38, ran with his kids, Max, 7, and Vaughn, 9. Wife, Jenika, cheered from the sideline. “We are teaching our kids about good health by setting the right example.” Jenika is best friends with my daughter, Gina who is expecting her first child.


My biggest “winner”, is my biggest loser. Cory Grames, 33, from Cadillac, lost enough weight for a complete person. Cory lost 213 pounds! I have never met a 213-pound loser. Cory suffered four heart attacks before he saw the light and started exercising. He also brought his blood counts in line and dropped his blood pressure. He is a two-time weight loss champion of Cadillac and is training to be a member of the Cadillac area weight lifting team. Congratulations to Cory. He’s my biggest loser of all time and a lesson to others who are hesitant to try exercise. Cory’s friend, Margret Widrig, 53, runs because it keeps her healthy. Kathy LaValley, 53, from Buckley, started running one short month ago. Kathy ran hurdles in high school, 35 years ago. She trains about 2 miles a day. This run was the first race for Jennifer Case, 47. Kathy, 25, Andy, 39, Ty,5  and Ari, 3 Santee are from Wayland. Kathy says “We love having a positive influence on our kids! Being healthy can be fun.”


At the end of the race, I bumped into a runner I chatted with, and passed, during the race. Joe Veriha, 44, and his wife Tracy Kellner, 43, of Marinette WI, came across Lake Michigan in a 60’ power boat moored in Elk Rapids and rode bikes from El;k Rapids to the GTR for the race. The big story is not that Joe has severe arthritis in his elbow, not that he broke his ankle twice playing college football and runs on a sore ankle, but that Tracy fractured her back in a trampoline accident, AND she donated a kidney to her sister AND she is a wellness nurse who knows the value of exercise. Congratulations to my “winners” Joe and Tracy. You are welcome to come across Lake Michigan and be in a race any time.


Kelly Yauk and her crew of volunteers want to welcome you to next year’s Stars, Stripes and Splatter- 5K Color Race at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. Or come out any time for good fun. Remember to ask your doctor before starting an exercise program.


Author Mickey Fivenson, 75, is a stroke survivor. Mickey’s doctor credits running to his survival. He is a 100-pound loser and former director of the National Cherry Festival Races. Mickey founded the Cherry Festival Golden Mile and Wheelchair Races. He completed over 60 marathons and holds a marathon world record with sons, Zack and Adam. He has trained 150,000+ miles in 48 years of running.   If you’d like tips on running, on marathons, if you have a story to share how running has impacted your life, or if you would like coverage of your race, contact Mickey at   .

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