On the second day of February each year, a loveable furry rodent comes out of his hole in Punxsutawney, PA to tell us all what the next six weeks of weather will hold. About that same time each year, another (arguably) even more important Groundhog centered event is held in Grand Rapids, MI….. the Groundhog Marathon. This past weekend, for the 11th consecutive time, I lined up with 335 of my closest friends to run circles around Millennium Park in the middle of winter for no good reason at all.
Unfortunately a minor hamstring injury has kept me from any serious distance training as of late, and consequently I was much slower than the otherwise perfect course conditions this year would have allowed for. So, knowing that I was far from 100% – and the fact this race has a reputation for it’s often miserable conditions – why on earth would I have gone? Because I don’t go there to run fast.
I go there to watch the sun rise over the Grand River as we run nearly a mile alongside its banks. The sound of large ice chunks crashing into one another; incredibly loud, although the water is so flat you’d almost think it isn’t moving. I go there for the chance to see the Bald Eagle on his nest, only a hundred yards or so from the path we run. The pair of swans swimming small circles where the ice has yet to take over completely their pond. Some see the six loops of a 4.4 mile course (an homage to the classic film) as torturous, but I like to think of it as a chance to experience these things many times over. All while meeting new friends of every pace and ability – runners who I would most likely never get to interact with on a “standard” course. Every year is a chance to meet up with old friends, and leave having made new ones. Yes the weather conditions can be tough some years, but we’re all out there in it together, and there’s honestly no where else I’d rather be.
This year I am honored to say that I ran (and finished) the 11th Annual Groundhog Marathon, and in doing so, kept my streak alive as one of 8(?) #PerfectHog runners who haven’t missed one yet. Thank you to Don Kern, TJ, and everyone else on the team who make this event what it is every year ❤
11th Annual Groundhog Marathon
4:28:41 / 10:15 pace
7th Place M40-44
24th Place Overall