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Oktoberfest bringing a festival of races to Spring Lake

Nate Thompson • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:44 AM

“I haven’t really done a lot of shorter races, but all of that was enough,” he said with a laugh.

The thrill of competition and pushing himself to the limit is what drives Losee, but he still finds just as much satisfaction in organizing endurance events, such as Saturday’s seventh-annual Oktoberfest races, which will feature a marathon, half-marathon and 5K race. The start and finish line for each event will be at Old Boys’ Brewhouse in Spring Lake.

Title sponsors for the three races are Shoreline Sport and Spine, Grand Haven Bone and Joint, and Clark Animal Hospital.

Losee and his wife, Diane, also have a hand in overseeing the Spring Lake Heritage Festival 5K Run, as well as the Coast Guard Park Trail Run in Ferrysburg.

“I just love seeing the satisfaction on people’s faces after they do something in which they love,” he said. “And really, running your first 5K can be just as rewarding as finishing a marathon. For myself, I enjoy providing a venue where people can reach their goals.”

Aside from creating spirited competition in their own backyard, there’s a greater ambition for the Losees. The couple said they initially organized the Oktoberfest event as a way to raise funds for the foundation they created, the Faith Marie Losee Fund — named for their daughter who was stillborn in 2006 due to an issue with her umbilical cord. The fund, which at the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, raises funds to provide infant medical equipment to neonatal departments at local hospitals.

“It’s all about trying to promote kids’ health,” Losee said.

Kids’ health has spilled over to the Oktoberfest event, as a kid’s run will be held Friday at Old Boys, beginning at 6:30 p.m. A mile and two-mile run will be available for children of all ages.

Also at the brewery on Friday will be a pre-race expo from 4-8 p.m., where a late registration will be held; competitors can pick up race packets; several vendors will have athletic gear, clothing and other items for sale; and a pasta dinner prepared by Old Boys will be offered for $5.

Late registration will also be available on Saturday until 7:30 a.m, Losee said.

The hand-cyclists will get the main event under way around 7:55 a.m. The starting pistol for the marathon will be held at 8 a.m., followed by the half-marathon at 8:15, and the 5K at 8:30 a.m. The event will provide a scenic course for all three distances. In the marathon, which will cover just over 26 miles, runners will run west down North Shore Road and reach the North Pier in Grand Haven before returning to Ferrysburg, circling around Spring Lake, through Fruitport and ending at Old Boys.Losee said the event is on pace to surpass last year’s total of 715 competitors.

“Last year, I believe we had at least 26 different states represented and three or four countries,” he said.

For more information about the event or to register, visit online at www.oktoberfestmarathon.com.

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