New schedule, locations slated for 2017
I started running cross-country and track back in high school, and then I continued to run competitively at the collegiate level. After college, a few of my teammates and I decided we would all run one marathon. We signed up and trained for the Chicago Marathon. Twelve years later, 13 marathons, approximately 30 half marathons, a few injuries, and I’m still running.
My most recent marathon was the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. I ran it in three hours and 38 minutes which was almost 10 minutes faster than my previous best time. This was my second time running the Marine Corps and is still my favorite marathon. It was also extra special because I was able to experience this with my friend, Jen, who I also ran with in college.
City Sneakers, Mount Clemens’ running and walking group, was formed about a year ago. I was so excited when I read about the kickoff event because I had been looking for several years for a run group to join close to home. Prior to this, there were no formal running groups on the east side of Macomb County. My dog, Ruger (my running partner), and I attended the kickoff event not knowing anyone. Over a few Tuesdays, I started to talk with several of the other runners, which turned into friendships. City Sneakers has been a great support group for everyone. We are able to bounce ideas off each other, help each other with training plans and provide emotional support after a bad run.
For me, City Sneakers was not just a Tuesday night run group. It has expanded into group runs on the weekend, holiday parties and backyard BBQs and even included a trip to Boston in April. Several members of City Sneakers ran the Boston 5K on Saturday, and others ran in the Boston Marathon on Monday. For me, without City Sneakers, none of this would have been possible.
Over the course of last summer, I was asked to join the planning committee. In September, we met and decided on a scaled-back winter schedule. Starting in February, the committee began meeting again. We added some new members to the committee and started to brainstorm what the Summer 2017 City Sneakers would look like. We looked at when we should kick off the season and decided what restaurants to go to. We redesigned the walking and running routes and started to attain sponsors. After several weeks, City Sneakers went from a small running/walking group to having several businesses and community organizations support and promote our group. These include the Macomb County Health Department, Macomb Community Action, MyCare, Hunch Free, New Balance, YMCA, Mount Clemens DDA and Sash Graphics.
Tuesdays are a great night to run/walk a few miles and then sit back and relax. Each restaurant has food and/or drink specials for us. The restaurants have been more than accommodating to City Sneakers. Since City Sneakers started, the local restaurants have seen a growth in their Tuesday foot traffic and sales. Last year, we averaged around 70-80 runners/walkers each week. For local businesses, this did not stop on Tuesday. Many businesses saw City Sneakers members stopping in on other nights of the week too.
On Tuesday, the City Sneakers group met at Rec Bowl to kick off the summer season. This free, noncompetitive group offers 2-, 4- and 6-mile routes that you can walk or run. With a record-breaking crowd, over 200 people in attendance, the place was full of energy and excitement. Last year’s kickoff had about 125 people. Families, individuals and dogs were all in attendance. There was even a family with five generations who came to walk together.
Guest speakers Lisa Borgacz, Mount Clemens interim city manager, and Bob Smith, Macomb County commissioner, both talked about their excitement for City Sneakers and the benefits it has had on Mount Clemens.
Every Tuesday, City Sneakers meets at a different restaurant. Next week, City Sneakers will be at Orleans Sports Café in downtown Mount Clemens. For a complete summer schedule, check out citysneakersclub.com or facebook.com/citysneakersclub.
Lauri Cowhy is a senior planner in Business Outreach and Communications for the Macomb County Department of Planning & Economic Development and serves on the City Sneakers Planning Committee.