Festival of Races slated for May 21

REED CITY — There's still time to register for this year’s Wheatlake Festival of Races, which takes place on Saturday, May 21, at the band shell behind Big Rapids Middle School.

The annual event benefits the Susan P. Wheatlake Cancer and Wellness Fund, an endowment of the Spectrum Health Foundation — Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals, and draws hundreds of individuals of all ages to walk or run in a variety of events including a half marathon, 5K run, Kids Wellness Dash and a walk.

"There's still time to get signed up," said Katelin Grossmeyer, supervisor marketing and public relations for Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City hospitals. "People can come a register the day of the event if they want."

Attendance for this year's Festival of Races is already looking healthy with more than 250 pre-registered participants,Grossmeyer added. Since its inaugural event, the attraction has proved to be popular with area residents and beyond.

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. Finishers will receive their medals and awards at the band shell and awards at 11:05 a.m. at the band shell. The cost to participate is $80.

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. at Hemlock Park, runners will travel along the riverwalk and end at the band shell near Big Rapids Middle School, where awards also will be given. The registration fee is $30. Walking the course also is allowed.

For those looking to participate in a walking-only event, the Wellness Walk will host registration at 10 a.m. and begin at 11 a.m. at the band shell. The event is not timed, so individuals can walk at their own pace. The registration fee is $20.

The Kids Wellness Dash for children up to 10 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.

Hydration stations, resting stops and bathrooms will be available along each course. Volunteer opportunities also are available for those looking to participate in other ways. Individuals are needed filling cups at water stations, creating signs, cheering on the runners and guiding runners as they cross roadways along their track.

"There's an event for every person," Grossmeyer said. "Anytime there's a health and wellness event, especially one like this with so many options and that helps benefit a really good cause, it's a win-win for everyone."

To register for any of the Festival of Races events or for more information, visit spectrumhealth.org/wheatlake-races.