As opposed to making this post JUST a race recap, I thought I would make it part race recap, and part travel guide to Grand Haven Michigan.
Let’s start with GH – my in-laws keep a boat in Grand Haven so in addition to Pat spending summers there growing up we now visit there quite a bit in the summer and are really familiar with some of the treasures there!!
Coast Guard is also the town’s “festival” it draws a really big crowd, and goes on for 2 weekends, the first weekend hosts the race, the second weekend gets a lot more rowdy with fireworks. Grand Haven is also home to the “Magical Fountain” which is a light and water show that incorporates, lights and water. It draws a really big crowd, and it is strangely enthralling.
If you’re in the mood for an alternative lunch, breakfast, or afternoon snack – I recommend Pronto Pups. It took me 7 years of visiting GH to get here, because the lines are usually SO FREAKING LONG!!!! No joke, the afternoon before the race my father in law (who was also doing the race) shared “a few”. They are corn dogs, but they use pancake batter; I need to make this very clear – Pronto Pups are delicious.
If you’re in the mood for a more casual dinner pre-race the pizzeria at the Kirby House is an excellent choice, if you want to get a bit fancier you can head to the Grill at the Kirby House, both are great. If you’re wanting pre-race pasta Porto Bello is the way to go, and if you’re wanting some pre-race beers (we did) you can swing into Odd-Side Ales for a pint, or a flight.
Upon completion of a race breakfast is a must (re-fueling is key) head to Dee-Lite for some Benedicts or Michigan Blue Cakes.
Later in the evening if you want to celebrate a pr, or just completion of physical activity head to the The Grand/Theater bar, they make a mean martini, and have great live music.
Ok, onto the running aspect of this, it’s a small race put on the local YMCA, it is pretty cheap (about $30), it starts fairly early which is perfect for end of July. The packet pick is the night before at the Y, and it was very organized, and well laid out. The race actually had a pretty large turnout there were about 400 people who did the 10k, and I think about 1000 who did the 5k.
We really lucked out with weather that weekend, and it was warm, but not ridiculously humid, with that and the early start it made for a reasonably enjoyable 10k. To add to that the course was very nice. It was a point to point course, that really showed off Grand Haven. We started at the Y, and ran along the lake to the marina, then out towards Spring Lake, then back in through the downtown, and into Duncan Woods. You enter Duncan woods at about mile 4.5-5, it get’s a little hilly here, but hang on, because it will hurt but it’s worth it, and what goes up, must come down. As you’re leaving Duncan Woods, you hit a MAJOR downhill and get an amazing view of Lake Michigan, it is truly so beautiful (even if you’re about to puke).
If you’re in the area, or want an excuse to visit Grand Haven, and/or do a 10k this is a great one to add to the list.