Atwood Stadium Race Organizers Building Upon Success Of Inaugural Race

Posted by on Jul 5, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Atwood Stadium Race Organizers Building Upon Success Of Inaugural Race

The success of the first Atwood Stadium Race in 2011 came as a surprise to even the most optimistic among the event’s organizers.

First-time races can be a roll of the dice, even one like Atwood, which was picking up where the popular Tuuri Road Race left off after 31 years on the Flint-area racing calendar.

Another obstacle was the fact that the race committee was playing catch-up, as a decision to move forward with plans for the race wasn’t made until late April. The Tuuri was discontinued the previous November.

The result was an event that had more entrants than any inaugural Flint-area road race since the 1990 Shillelagh four-mile run in Flushing. There were 1,132 total entrants in the 10-kilometer, 5-kilometer and children’s races.

Atwood Kids Touchdown Dash

“It was amazingly well-received,” said Brian Barkey of Flint, one of the Atwood organizers. “The Tuuri was such a known thing. … We started late last year; that really scared us. By the time we finished, we had 1,100 finishers. That was amazing to us.”

One of the secrets to the success of the Atwood race was the “Duo Medal-y” concept. Like the Tuuri before it, Atwood’s schedule enabled runners and walkers to do the 5-kilometer and 10-kilometer races. The 5K started at 7:30 a.m., followed by the 10K at 8:30. There were 224 entrants who registered for both races, compared to only six who took advantage of that option at the final Tuuri in 2010.

Barkey said that most of the early entrants for the 2012 Atwood race, which will be held on July 23 at historic Atwood Stadium, have been by those who want to do the “Duo.” Those who register for the “Duo” pay a reduced fee for the second race.

Kenny Wall of Flushing Sweeps Duo In Inaugural Year

A new twist this year is the addition of overall and masters awards for those who have the best combined times in the 5K and 10K races, Barkey said. Some of the top competitors in the inaugural Atwood Race doubled-up. Kenny Wall of Flushing won both races, taking the 5K in 16:42 and the 10K in 35:42. Shane Logan of Pontiac was second in both races. John Niven of Swartz Creek was the men’s masters winner in both races.

Armed with that type of success, race organizers had more to offer to potential sponsors. Atwood landed a major sponsor when HealthPlus of Michigan came on board this year. HealthPlus is also a major sponsor of the Crim Festival of Races in Flint, the Brooksie Way Half Marathon in Rochester Hills, the Qualifier in mid-Michigan, and the Run for Your Heart Community Races in Saginaw.

“It aligns perfectly with our corporate vision, which is a healthier community, keeping people active,” said Louis Hawkins, Community Relations Administrator for HealthPlus of Michigan. “It promotes their wellness, it promotes their health. There’s this big effort throughout the whole country to keep people active and get rid of that sedentary lifestyle. That’s one of our main attractions to races.”

Hawkins not only works for a company that is a key sponsor of road races, but he is an avid participant. He took second in his age group in the 10K last year.

“I loved it,” Hawkins said. “It’s going to grow and continue to be one of the big races in the city, simply because of the importance of being associated with Atwood and the history of Atwood. How many races do you have people come into the stadium? I’m excited about it, personally.”

10K Women’s Winner Addie May

The entry fees are $20 with a shirt and $15 without for the 10K or 5K through Sunday, July 17.

The early Duo fees are $37 with a shirt and $30 without a shirt. After July 17, the fees are $25 and$20
for the individual races or $42 and $35 for the Duo.

Those using Crim vouchers can get into the Duo for an extra $15.

A training opportunity on the Atwood course is being organized for 8 a.m. Sunday, July 8. Water will be provided, there will be port-a-johns in the Atwood Stadium parking lot, but roads will not be closed. Barkey said that a similar event before last year’s race helped spike interest.

“We were scared to death until we did that,” he said. “We thought we’d go down and 20 people would show up to go for a run. A couple hundred showed up. We were really encouraged by that.”

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