Run Clark Lake

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Walt Reed attended his first Run Clark Lake in 2010, and the “Run” put him to work. What follows are his observations of that Saturday, August 1, and good description on how this race comes together each year.

Run Clark Lake 2010

Run Clark Lake 2010

What an event! It took 33 years before I saw my first Run in its 34th year. How could I have missed over 830 people descending on our community for all of these years? My problem could be that I have never been much of a runner; and, since I retired, getting up before 9:00 AM requires a major effort on my part.

In spite of that, I volunteered. If you have been exposed to the charm and dedication of Ann Swain you understand why I was coaxed to join over 800 runners and a dedicated bunch of volunteers early on a Saturday morning. When I arrived I was impressed!

I just had to learn more about this huge community event that brings hundreds of runners from all over the US and often from foreign countries to spend a couple of hours running around Clark Lake.

My source of information is Pat Dwyer. Pat has been involved in the runs at Clark Lake from the beginning. He told me that the reason that Olympic quality runners descend on Clark Lake is three-fold. First is the beauty of the course. Who isn’t impressed with our surroundings?

The second is the hospitality of our community. Again, who isn’t impressed by the hospitality and friendliness of our neighbors?

The third reason that Run Clark Lake draws quality runners is that the race is USA Track and Field certified. Any records set at Run Clark Lake go into the books. Two courses are run almost simultaneously; a 12 kilometer (7.5 miles) and a 5 kilometer (3.1 miles).

For this run and for the first time, the 12 K runners were able to run through the Spirit Trail’s newly created wooded section connecting Jefferson Road to Lakeview.

Pat Dwyer is dedicated to running. As I said, Pat has been involved since 1975 when Louie Ambs started the Clark Lake 7-mile run as a Clark Lake Lions sponsored event. Pat is a member of the Jackson Area Race Directors Association and is involved in every race run in the county. Pat also spent 5 years as “The Voice” of the Michigan State High School Athletic Association annual state cross-country race held at MIS.

Needless to say, Pat is a runner. He and Tom Collins were also close friends and his association with the Collins family led to his deep involvement in the evolution of Run Clark Lake. Pat says that Peggy Collins is the dedicated runner in the Collins family. It was through Tom’s dedication to the Clark Lake community and Peg’s dedication to running that the Run Clark Lake has become the big race that I saw for the first time this year.

Pat promotes Run Clark Lake across the United States. His nationwide involvement in the sport of running gives him the contact with other race promoters and runners that ensure that our community race will be well attended.

As usual in this community, Dotty Karkheck ensures that the necessary flyers and posters are made to support Pat’s promotional activities.

Run Clark Lake 2010

Run Clark Lake 2010

Over 800 runners showed up at the Beach Bar at 8:00 AM on that cool Saturday morning. The Collins family has made the Beach Bar into the headquarters of Run Clark Lake. The runners were met at the Beach Bar by a small army of Clark Lake volunteers.

Peg Collins and Ann Swain coordinated the last minute efforts of community volunteers. Hundreds of runners needed to be registered; numbers handed out, course traffic control assignments made, fruit and water stations set-up, and souvenir T-shirts sold. Meanwhile, Liz Colgrove ensured that the required computers were setup and running, and that all runner information was recorded correctly into the system. It would be easy to lose a runner in the crowd I saw!

But somehow it all came together and the 5 K race and walk began. Five minutes later the 12 K race started. About 15 minutes after the 5 K race started, the lead runners started crossing the finish line. Run three miles in just over 15 minutes. In my dreams!

This year the 5 K winner was a member of the MSU track team. NCAA runners are allowed to run in two events that are not sanctioned by the NCAA. Several of the MSU runners have selected Run Clark Lake as one of their off campus races.

Run Clark Lake Kiddy Race 2010

The cheering at the end of the Kiddy Race was louder than either the 5 K or 12 K race.

Once the 12 K race ended, my favorite event began. The ¾ K Kiddy Run! The course for this short run was from the Beach Bar to the County Park. Even if running is not your favorite spectator sport, I guarantee you would cheer for these runners. Over 130 small children, some dragging dad or mom, ran the course.

Run Clark Lake is a community event. Each year, Pat handles the technical aspects of the race, to include painting the arrows that you see around the lake, and he coordinates the inputs from the business sponsors. Peg and Ann ensure that the registration tables and volunteers are in place as the sun rises. (Have I mentioned that I haven’t seen the sun come up for awhile?)

Without community volunteers Run Clark Lake would not exist.

Monetary prizes are awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishes in age and gender group for the 12 K run. Additional money is awarded to the fastest runners overall and to anyone who sets a new course record.

Proceeds from Run Clark Lake have contributed over $40,000 to build the Tom Collins Spirit Trail. Future runs will continue to contribute to improvement of Clark Lake community facilities and activities.

I am hooked! I expect to make it up before sunrise when it comes to supporting Run Clark Lake. If you want to have one of the most fun times you can have while working, join in!

The Run Clark Lake team can always use more volunteers. You will be amazed at the runners that participate. You might even find yourself participating.

Maybe the 5 K walk to start?