Mesick Mushroom Festival 5K Race/2K Walk May 12, 2018

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Race director, Rhonda Workman, Welcomed runners and walkers to the annual Mesick Mushroom Festival 5K Race/2K Walk, May 12, 2018. Rhonda is not sure how old the race is, other than the race is very old. This year is the third year Rhonda has directed the race. The run might be one of the most beautiful race courses in Northern Michigan as we wound along the rustic Manistee River backwaters, along primitive wooded trails to finish at the backwaters of the Hodenpyle Dam. The setting was an incredibly beautiful course. Lovely four colored medals were awarded the top three men and women, in 10 year age groups. Rhonda took photos of us all for her Facebook page. We were treated to homemade cookies and a fun drawing where additional gifts were provided by sponsors.

The race benefits the Mesick Track Team. Many Mesick track team members were present to help marshal the wooded course and to energetically ring cowbells. (Runners always have a need for more cowbell!!). Sponsors of the race were; Northern Exposures Campground, Mesick Market, Dynamic Physical Therapy, Ellen’s Corner, Mesick Dental Center, Antioch Hills, Northern Pines Health Center, Hilltop Truck Maintenance, Honor Bank, Munson Medical Center and Gaylord Outdoors. The race was further assisted by; Northern Lights Insurance, Finishing by Flatman, Mesick Women’s Club, Harmony Honey Farm, Wilderness Canoe Trips, The Workman Farm, and Evelyn Jakubik.

I met the race “winner” long after the medals were handed out and all prizes were awarded and the crowd was leaving. I saw a couple of runners watching the beautiful view. His “M” hat was intriguing. They looked like “normally” fit runners, but I was in for a surprise. It took several questions and comments before I found out Ann Baca, 57, of South Lyon, wore a pacemaker. Ann says “Running makes my heart stronger.” In 2012, Ann received an implanted cardio defribulator. Ann has Hypertrophic Cardo Myopathy. Her ventricular fribulation or PVC is resolved with the implant and through exercise. Ann also bikes, swims, does elliptical, and performs yoga. With a Prediaketic diet, she lost 35 pounds. Her A1C dropped from 6.2 to 5.9. Because Ann is pre-diabetic, she has been on a diabetic diet eating no more than 45-60 carbs per meal. Her cholesterol is better than ever. As a project manager, Ann also uses exercise as a stress relief. Congratulations to my “winner”, Ann Baca. You weren’t the fastest runner, but you proved that exercise will benefit even a serious condition. Ann’s husband, John Baca, also 57, “accompanied” my “winner”. John wore his U of M hat proudly. John attended UM Dearborn and is a crazy UM fan, like me. One son attended UM Dearborn, one son attended UM, Ann Arbor, and two daughters went to CMU and MSU! Ann, is this your first time as a race “winner”? You make us all very proud.

I had the pleasure of meeting the women members of a book club who ran in matching book club shirts and really did read books. These ladies were having a typical book club blast. All of them are from the Cadillac-McBain area and most are either teachers or health-care workers. Alexandre Dodde, age 30, lost 70 pounds including losing 30 inches in total. Carla Brummer, is 33, Erin Koetje is 36, and lost 30 pounds, Samantha Dekan is 30, Gabrielle Koetje, is 22, Emily Roeifsema is 30, her sister, Kathy Deller, is 33, lost 50 pounds, and reduced her blood pressure from 180/100 to 110/60. These ladies read good books and they are tough on the race course. Emily gave me a good tussle throughout much of the race.

I lost my age group “win” to Gerald Rohn, 72, from Freeland. What is most interesting about Gerald winning, is that he competed te 5K race with two replaced knees,,, and still beat me. Next year, Gerald, you are going down!! Pam Tank, 58, of Mesick, ran for her company, who is a sponsor, Northern Lights Insurance. Pam’s husband, Tim, 59, walked the course wearing a leg brace that stretched from his thigh to mid-calf. The brace helped keep bone from rubbing on bone where cartilage is missing. Stu Davidson, 29, of Midland, ran part of the course with me. Stu was a runner on his high school track team. Stu’s mother’s day gift to his mom was entry into this race. Mom, Mercedes Davidson, 57, meets with her son, Stu, for a Mother’s Day race every year for the last 14 years. Give mom the gift of life!! Helena Risdon, 67 of Alto, MI, near Grand Rapids, has been fast walking for the last 12 years. Helena walked with her daughter, Rosalyn Risdon, 43, from Byron Center. Rosylyn, runs to support causes such as the Susan G. Komen fund in the Gazelle Race. Amanda Kubiak, 29, walked the race with her 3 year old Husky, Meiko. Beautiful dog!! Cory Grimes, from Cadillac, is another “winner”. Cory lost over 200 pounds and lifts weights for a Cadillac area team. Cory continues to lose inches around his middle and keeps the same weight while adding muscle. Jody Baxter, 57, walked the course in spite of having a broken knee suffered in a fall.

The Mesick Track Team was present to marshal us around the wooded, winding trail. Each of the track team members rang cowbells to lighten our spirits as we ran the race. Next year, MORE COWBELLs, please. We need more cowbells!! Micah Vogler, Elizabeth Terry, Austin Liebzeit, Tenzin McGregor, Maddy Weinert, Jorge Lewis, Aiden Brewer, Courtnie Gibbs, Joey Stewert, Alyia Caranhan, Abby Riffle, Jack Malkowski, Frankie Simerson, and Grant Fleis all members of the track team, participated. We could not have finished this race without your help. Coach, Rob McGregor, was in charge of team members.

Race director, Rhonda Workman, hopes you will join her for next year’s Mesick Mushroom Festival 5K and fun run along the beautiful Manistee River. Always ask your doctor before starting an exercise program.  Rhonda, thank you for bringing us this race, having an important impact on many lives. Rhonda is a veteran. Thank you, Rhonda, for your service and for directing this exceptional event!!!


Your author, Mickey Fivenson, age 76, of Traverse City, has lost over 100 pounds and trained over 150,000 miles in 48 years of running. He has completed over 60 marathons (3:01 marathon PR) 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 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 finished second in his age group.


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