Nonprofits and Sports Business

RunGR keeps pace for Fifth Third River Bank Run

April 16, 2013
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RunGR keeps pace for Fifth Third River Bank Run
A member of the RunGR club runs in the Grand Rapids Marathon. Photo via fb.com

Marathon runners don't give up.  

Perhaps no better modern picture of this reality is being painted for the West Michigan community than in the form of a West Michigan running club, who will sponsor and participate in the upcoming 36th annual Fifth Third River Bank Run on May 11.

Yesterday’s tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon will not stop local runners from participating in the largest 25K race in the country.

RunGR nonprofit

“We’re committed to the River Bank Run,” said Kyle Cutler, marketing director for RunGR, a local running club and sponsor of the River Bank Run. “Obviously, there’ll be increased security. . . . But if we don’t do what we normally do, the terrorist or whoever did this, wins in our mind.”

Cutler himself ran in the Boston Marathon last year as part of a bucket-list promise to himself. He said the Boston crowd supporters were absolutely incredible, something especially important in a runner’s ability to finish a race well.

He hopes the tragedy in Boston will not keep supporters from attending the River Bank Run in a few weeks.

“The spectators are a huge part of it. You need their support,” he said. “The one thing I hope is this wouldn’t decrease the number of people who come out. As a runner, you need them as much as you need your training.”

The RunGR club sponsorship of the River Bank Run is almost more of a partnership, as it doesn't include exchanging cash, Cutler said, but rather involves training runners for the Road Warriors program.

RunGR, founded over 10 years ago by local runners, including Ken Sung, owner of Gazelle Sports, and Fred Bunn, director of East Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation, has a $150 annual membership cost and about 300 members, Cutler said, with about more than half usually running in the River Bank Run.

Road Warriors

The Road Warriors program, a River Bank Run program where ten “average joe” types are trained to run in the marathon, has trained with RunGR for several years, he said.

Today, their training will involve a mile time trial, Cutler said, something no tragedy will scare or prevent them from completing.

“It’s just a mile time trial for runner training. It’s been on our schedule for all year,” he said. “We aren’t changing anything. We are one community.”

Road Warrior in training Adele Garcia recently blogged on the Fifth Third River Bank site about the Boston Marathon bombings.

For Garcia, whose charity partner is the American Cancer Society, yesterday’s attack is a reminder of being wounded by terrorist bombs, while serving in the military.

“I’m not sure what the meaning of yesterday was, or if we will ever know. But what I do know is that I will still run. I will not let any terrorists or evil person make me feel as though I cannot do what I love to do,” Garcia writes.

Mike Dopke, RunGR member and coach for the Road Warriors, also blogged, saying he has twice run in the Boston Marathon, and no terrorist will take away the joy he finds in running.

“We must now remain united as runners. We must band together and keep putting one foot in front of the other in celebration of the sport and our freedom,” he writes. “We must keep racing, we must keep striving, we must keep dreaming and we must chase this senseless individual or individuals to the ends of the earth and bring them to justice. We’re distance runners after all, we can do that.”

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