Friends of Fishtown 5K, July 20, Downtown Leland

Race director, Fred Heslop, and Fishtown Preservation Society executive director, Amanda Holmes, welcomed nearly 760 runners, walkers, babies and doggies to the 11th annual edition of this scenic, exceptional race in Leland, Michigan. Meandering along the lovely Leland River and Lake Michigan, the course was a challenging hilly affair, held in steamy weather starting and ending in the heart of historic Fishtown. The Fishtown 5K website, Fishtown 5k , says; “Our beautiful course winds through Leland’s neighborhoods and along the Leland River, starting and finishing in the heart of Fishtown. Gradual climbs and descents make this an event for the serious runner or the whole family! Rain or Shine—Proceeds help us preserve and maintain the historical integrity of Fishtown, and ensure that it remains publicly accessible.”

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5K race results can be found at the following Link; Fishtown 5K Results . Benefiting the preservation of Fishtown, the race was sponsored by the following: Larkin Group, Auto Owners Insurance, and Northern Building Supply. Additional sponsors were, Two Fish Gallery, Spork Tileart, The Riverside Inn, The Leland Lodge, Van’s Garage, Falling Waters Lodge, Olson, Bzdok & Howard Law Firm, 9 Bean Rows, Leland International Coffee Club, Leland Yacht Club, Leland Merc, and JenTees Logo Gear.

As author of this article, I have the honor to pick the “winners”. These  “winners”  are not necessarily the fastest runners, but the runners who have won the game called “life”, the “winners” who are an inspiration to us all.  Besides the all-important preservation of Fishtown, these folks are the reason this race is so important. For example, Andre Masse, 16, from Leland, attracted my attention because he wore a U of M shirt (U of M is my college, GO BLUE!!!!). Andre likes U of M because they are “the best”. But the reason Andre is a “winner” shocked me. After talking to Andre about his favorite college, I noticed tattooed on his arm was the warning, “I am a type 1 diabetic”. Andre wore an insulin pump under his running gear to correct low blood sugar. In addition to being a runner, Andre plays soccer. “Exercising helps me with my type 1 diabetes by controlling my blood sugar by bringing the sugar measurement down. It is important to stay active to control the diabetes.” Andre discovered his illness five years ago. Andre, you are an inspiration and a true “winner” in the game of life. Another “winner” is Mark Ford, 71, of Montague. Mark was joined by his wife, Karen 70, as they walked the course, holding hands. Mark is a “winner” because he walks to prevent another heart attack. Yes, while most heart attack victims sit on their duffs waiting for the inevitable, Mark is attacking his health history through exercise. Wearing a heart stint, Mark has dropped his blood pressure from 140 to 127. His A1C was 7.2 and has dropped to 7.1. A 1990 former member of the famed Motor City Striders running club, located in the Detroit area, and a finisher of many races, Mark is using exercise to get back in shape. “Walking motivates each of us” says Karen. She should know the value of exercise because she recently broke her back! Amazing!

We have the honor to speak to more “winners”. Larry Taylor, 74, of Tulsa OK, attributes exercise to cutting down on wine consumption and lowering his blood pressure from 160 to 133. For Blayne Kowalewski, 68, of Cedar, wearing his ugly Spartan shirt, (just kidding Blayne), running keeps him in shape for pickle ball. Marnie Sutter, 68, of Cedar, supports the cause of preserving Fishtown and running helps her stay in fit, year round. In the spirit of famous U of M footballers, Braylon Edwards, Anthony Carter, David Terrell, Derrick Alexander, Harry Kipke, Greg McMurtry, Maximillian Egeler, age 2 ½, proudly wore his #1 U of M Jersey as he was pushed along the course in a running stroller, by his mom, Kelly, age 33 of Ypsilanti . Maximillian was born in U of M’s Van Voilander Women’s Hospital located at the U of M in Ann Arbor. As a result of his auspicious birth site, Maximillon has been “inundated”, according to his mom, with U of M gear. He even sings the U of M fight song. Kelly was accompanied in the event by her mom, Fran, age 59, of Dexter, participating in her first 5K.

Jim Mello, 47, of Washington, DC, is generally athletic and likes to exercise. For Jim, “It’s not about the race, it’s more about saving Fishtown”, which is a theme I heard repeatedly as I talked to runners and walkers. John Westol, 74, of Leland and Ocala, FL, runs for the emotional and physical benefits and also for the fellowship. John is a descendent of one of Fishtown’s old fishing families, the Steffens. He has run every Fishtown 5K and volunteered for nearly all of them, too. John grew up in the same neighborhood in Traverse City as my classmate, Pete Strom. John knew the founder of Darrow Park, who lived adjacent to the park on Monroe Street in the same home later owned by Pete. Coincidence! John was accompanied in the race by his running friend of 30 years, Bill Abbey, 71, of Bay City and St Petersberg, Fl.

Our “winner” of the “Runners who came the furthest” award is David Hansen, of Zurich, Switzerland, 56, to lend the race an international flavor. David works for a bank and sits 12 hours each day at a desk. Running gives David a chance to gain needed exercise. David was accompanied by wife Emily, a non-runner, and son, Nicholas, 23, of London, England and nephew Sam Maas, 15.

Last, but far from least is Sarah Behrmann, 61.5 years young from Leland and Huntington Woods. Sarah and I “sprinted” across the finish line but at the last moment, Sarah edged me out proving runners can have a blast even in the middle of the pack. What was interesting, Sarah walked most of the race,,, except when she finished the race by sprinting. We ran together and had a good time for the last 2.2 miles, a good time until she edged me. Next time, Sarah!. Sarah proudly ingests no chemicals into her body. She receives the nutrition she needs from eating healthy. She uses no drugs or stimulants, making for a happy, healthy person. Sarah enjoys beating people half her age! She has been exercising since she was 20 years old. Sarah says, “People have choices. They can ingest chemicals or find a healthy alternative”.

The race could not have existed without the assistance of volunteers. I was fortunate to meet a few important volunteers. Stephanie Duckmann, Anne Watkins and Barbara Burkhardt passed-out tee shirts and the Fishtown 5K goodie bags. Stephanie grew up in Leland and “has loved being here”. She fully supports the activities of the Fishtown Preservation Society. In addition, the race was controlled by effective course marshals, guiding us through the intricate route. The race featured many other important volunteers.

Race director, Fred Heslop and Fishtown Preservation’s executive director, Amanda Holmes, hope you will join them along the gorgeous hidden trails of Leland, along the Leland River and Lake Michigan for the 12th Annual Friends of Fishtown 5K, next year on July 18, 2020. Remember to ask your medical advisor for permission to start an exercise program.

Your author, Mickey Fivenson, age 77, of Traverse City, lost over 100 pounds and has trained 150,000 miles in 48 years of running. He completed 60 marathons (3:01 PR) and holds a marathon world record with his sons, Zack and Adam. Mickey is the former director of the National Cherry Festival Runs, which had been ranked in the top 25 races, nationally. Mickey’s doctors credit running toward surviving several strokes. He is an ordained rabbi, an Advanced Scuba Diver and credits his running fitness and his scuba skills with surviving a fall through the ice in over 600’ of water in middle of West Grand Traverse Bay,,,,,, and saving his dog! A U of M graduate like his kids, (GO BLUE!!), he plays a mean blues harmonica globally and with area bands. Mickey took second place in his age division of the 5K. If you would like Mickey to cover your race, if you need training tips, email

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