“Race to the Tomb” 5K New Hope Community Church, 4-7-18, Williamsburg

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Race director, Duane Amato, received almost 150 entries for the second annual “Race to the Tomb” 5K at the beautiful fields and orchards surounding the New Hope Community Church, a few miles north of the Grand Traverse Resort on US 31 in Williamsburg. Duane had expected more entries because the Traverse City Track Club had awarded the race the title of “Favorite New Race of 2017”, but due to the cold and ice conditions, entries were lower than expected. Proceeds from the event went to Habitat for Humanity. The Race to the Tomb is held on a beautiful course on paved roads, with a quick jaunt through orchards. At the finish, racers and walkers ended “at the tomb” which is located at the lovely New Hope Community Center, an ideal facility to start and finish a race. Awards were given to the top 3 overall male / female, top 1 masters (50-59) male / female, and top 1 grand masters (60+) male/female. The top 3 finishers (male and female) in each age group also received an award.  Race director, Duane Amato, who took home the grand master’s award, explained to me the reason for the name, “Race to the Tomb”. Church Pastors Craig Treirweiler and Rick Stewart wanted to do a 5K race around the Easter Holiday. They came up with the name “Race to the Tomb”. When Jesus was crucified, his body was placed in a tomb with a huge stone covering the entry. Three days later, the huge stone was discovered removed. When the apostles “raced to the tomb” they found his body gone thus proving his rise.

Special thanks are due to John Pulcifar for allowing the race to proceed through his lovely orchards. Also supporting the race were ­­Running Fit and Bigby Coffee. Results can be found at the following link; Race to the Tomb 2018 Results  . Then click on “All Genders” and “All Categories” to see five year age groups by gender.

Let’s move on to our “winner”. As writer of this article, I am “allowed” to pick my “winner”. My “winner” is not the fastest runner, but the runner who has changed his life most dramatically through running, the runner whose story is most impactful for others reading this article. Today we have two “winners”. Jeff Brown, 49, from Gladwin has been running 43 years. He started when he was 6 years old. Due to an injury, he developed a dangerous blood clot in his leg. Jeff was attempting to run a race in every county in Michigan (a feat he later accomplished). The fact that he was a conditioned runner was one reason he survived the clot and was able to return to running. Jeff recalls one of his more memorable races held at the Bronson Children’s Hospital in Kalamazoo. “Seeing all the ill children as they thanked us for attending the race, was heart-warming and inspirational. As an RN, I have used my experience with my own blood clot with many patients. I can see the value of good health and the dangers of bad health.”

My second “winner” is Tracey Weatherholt, 56, of Traverse City. Tracey says “I am diabetic. I have been running several years. Running helps me use less diabetes medication. I was using 40 units of pumped insulin per day. Now, I am down to 10 units and I assume that will drop even further because I have increased my training as I prepare for a half-marathon with the help of the Traverse City Track Club. I recently had a physical and my doctor says my cholesterol looks great”. Congrats to my two race “winners”. You are both a lesson to us all. Tracey’s friend, Jill Thompson, 36, of Cedar, relieves the stress of four kids by running. “Running is for me and me alone,” says Jill.

Erin Ferguson, 39, of TC, is leaving for Denmark to run a race. Erin is a member of Team USA, and will compete in a global triathlon competition. Erin started running and competing as an adult. She is a paramedic and can attest to the dangers of being out of condition. Randy Stone, 63, of TC, walked the course to support New Hope. His buddy, Steve Orum, 58, from Grand Haven, ran in high school and college. He interrupted his running for over 20 years, and now is back at it. Steve ran his only marathon in 2:58 at the New York Marathon. Steve does not let two knee surgeries slow him down. Steve says “his son is the real running star as he is a current college varsity runner”. Steve LaBonte, 57, of TC, started running with his dad. 15 triathlons and four years later, he is still at it. Mary Beth Sellers, 57, of TC, has been running 27 years. She runs to relieve anxiety. Richard Nicholas, 47, of TC, lost 37 pounds. Angela Clem-Skeans, 49, of TC is the daughter of Gary Clem, my brother, Tom’s, good Central High School buddy. She loves the feeling of staying healthy. Her mom was a race helper who recalls my brother visiting her in the hospital after a serious motorcycle accident during high school.

I was privileged to meet some leaders of the New Hope Church, all of whom are runners. Of course, I need to begin with the man who is an inspiration to us all, Pastor Tim Manzer. Tim suffered a life-threatening motorcycle accident, experienced many broken bones and severe depression. Tim has recovered his health and has become one of the area’s most respected runners and an important church leader. It is always an inspiration to talk with Tim. Pastor Rick Stewart, is a leading pastor of New Hope Church. Rick has been running since he was on the High School track team and two years in college. Rick trains weekly 2-3 times. Bob Felton, 50, is pastor at the New Hope Bellaire campus. Bob has an ambition to be a runner but says he “lacks discipline”. Hopefully, after this, his first 5K race, running will catch on with Bob.

Volunteers were important to the race. Barb Mosher, handed out the technical tee shirts. Many other Habitat for Humanity and New Hope volunteers marshalled the various twists and turns in the route.  Bradley Hahn, a new chiropractor in the TC area, helped on the Habitat for Humanity informational table and marshalled the course. Habitat for Humanity, and executive director, Wendy Irvin, explained to me that HFH covers three area counties. Their mission “Puts God’s love into action by bringing people together to build suitable homes, communities and hope”. HFH volunteers and sponsors are always needed.

Race director, Duane Amato, hopes you will join him for next year’s “Race to the Tomb”. You will enjoy one of the North’s nicest finish line, terrific awards, great snacks and a unique shirt. But remember, before starting an exercise program, consult your doctor.

Your author, Mickey Fivenson, age 75, has lost over 100 pounds and trained over 150,000 miles in 48 years of running. He has completed over 60 marathons and holds one marathon world record with his sons, Zack and Adam. Mickey is the former director of the National Cherry Festival Runs. Mickey’s doctors credit running toward surviving several strokes. He is a rabbi, an Advanced Scuba diver and plays blues harmonica internationally and with area bands. If you’d like Mickey to cover your race, if you need tips on training, email mickey at telecomclassifiedads dot com. Today, Mickey took first place in his age group.



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