Festival of Races event nears, registration still underway

REED CITY — Only two weeks are left to register for the Wheatlake Festival of Races, which will feature a half marathon, 5K Run, Kids Wellness Dash and a walk.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, May 16, at the Reed City Depot. Previously dubbed the Wheatlake Wellness Walk and 5K, the day will host the four events for participants of all ages and abilities.

"We are feeling excited as the event gets closer," said Megan Biller, event chair and local runner. "Watching the numbers increase each day only makes our smiles bigger. We know that more will sign up and we are working hard to create a wonderful event for everyone involved."

The half marathon registration begins at 6 a.m. in the Big Rapids Middle School gym, and buses for the runners will depart at 6:45 a.m. for the Reed City Depot.

The race starts at 8 a.m. near the Reed City Depot, then follows the White Pine Trail and riverwalk, ending at the band shell behind Big Rapids Middle School. The course closes at 11 a.m. Finishers will receive their medals and awards at 11:05 a.m. at the band shell.

Registration for the event is $85. Already 59 people have signed up, with more expected to participate.

Besides the half marathon, another event is sure to draw groups and individuals who are looking for a more manageable length to run or walk.

The 5K event will begin with registration at 7 a.m. at Hemlock Park in Big Rapids, with the race starting at 8 a.m. Runners will travel along the riverwalk and end at the band shell near Big Rapids Middle School. The registration fee is $25. Walking the course also is allowed. Biller said 42 individuals plan to tackle the course.

The Kids Wellness Dash for children up to 12 years old is slated to begin at 10 a.m., with the runners taking off from the starting line at 10:30 a.m. at the Big Rapids Middle School playground. There is a $1 registration fee, and awards will take place immediately following the event.

For those interested in the walk, registration will begin at 10 a.m. and the walk will start at 11 a.m. The course will begin and end at the band shell near Big Rapids Middle School. The cost to register is $15, and so far it has been the most popular event with 62 pre-registrations.

Hydration stations, resting stops and bathrooms will be available throughout each course.

All participants will receive a t-shirt and goody bag. Proceeds from the Wheatlake Festival of Races will benefit the Susan P. Wheatlake Cancer and Wellness Fund, an endowment of the Spectrum Health Foundation — Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals. Packet pick-up will take place from noon to 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 14, and from noon to 8 p.m. on Friday, May 15, at the Holiday Inn Conference Center. The Sporting News Grill also will be hosting a pasta dinner starting at 5 p.m. on May 15. The cost of dinner is not included in the registration fee.

"Along with participants, we are hoping for even more volunteers and spectators," Biller added. "There is even time to run the 5K and then cheer on the half marathon runners as they finish.

"More than anything, we are excited for an event that promotes health and fitness for the entire family. We love creating an event that everyone looks forward to each year."

Also during the Festival of Races, volunteers at Big Rapids Middle School will offer refreshments, a raffle and silent auction from 8 a.m. to noon. Free skin cancer screenings also will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

For more information, find the event on Facebook or call (231) 592-4327.