Race director Jim Conner expects nearly 2,000 runners to invade Grand Haven on Saturday for the annual Coast Guard Festival Runs.
The popular 5K and 10K runs are easily the area’s most popular road race, in part because of their association with the Coast Guard Festival.
“We’ll be close to 1,800 by the time we get to the run,” said Conner, now in his second year as race director for the event. “The weather’s getting nice. It started out slow, but it’s coming on strong now.”
Participants can sign up for the race all the way up until Saturday morning. The 5K run begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by the 10K at 8:30. A 1-mile Family Fun Run/Walk will follow at 8:45, and a Tot Trot Obstacle Course will be available for youngsters at 9:15. An awards ceremony is planned for 10.
“This is definitely one of the showpieces, the Coast Guard run,” Conner said. “It’s been around for a long time, it’s well-run, and it’s a go-to venue. Being the Coast Guard Festival, it’s another thing to do, a reason for people to come out to the Lakeshore.
“We have a lot of people form other states here on vacation, and also a lot of (Coast) Guard members. It’s fun, a good way to showcase the city.”
Conner said the courses for the races remain unchanged from last year. The 5K (3.1 mile) run begins near the YMCA entrance on Sherman Avenue at Sand Drive. Runners veer right onto Howard before taking Sheldon south to Grand Avenue. Grand takes runners down to the waterfront, where the head north on Harbor Drive, following that around past the boardwalk and up to the finish in front of the YMCA.
The 10K (6.2 mile) course follows the same route, with a jaunt out onto Harbor Island accounting for the additional mileage.
“If you know the course, it’s pretty much the same,” Conner said. “They run on Harbor Island, along the beach, so it’s scenic. If you run a 5K in Grandville, it’s through subdivisions.”
Conner noted that volunteers are still needed for the runs.
“They can be out on the course, work an aid station, help with cleanup or setup, work with the tot trot, just a multitude of things,” Conner said. “The best way to do that is with the Y, go to their website (www.tcfymca.org) and there’s a way to sign up there.”